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.
Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Tuesday at 4:00pm ET on PRN. Length: One hour.
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U.S. Pursues War, Chaos in Middle East and North Africa “If there is a substantial military strike on Iran, it is going to create mayhem in the region,” said Dr. Vijay Preshad, director of International Studies at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut. “And that is precisely what the Gulf Arabs and the United States would like to see. The last thing they want is a proper Arab Spring germinate into new, democratic regimes in North Africa and Est Asia.”
McKinney: America Guilty of “Sociocide” The U.S. is engaged in “sociocide” – the “wholesale destruction of entire societies,” said Cynthia McKinney, the former Georgia congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate. “One can honestly say that sociocide has occurred in Iraq and Libya,” she said. “This is purposeful behavior, to go into these countries and destroy all aspects of the infrastructure.”
Obama Outdoes Bush in Power-Grab “Obama has claimed vastly more power than Bush did,” said peace activist David Swanson, publisher of the influential web site WarIsACrime.org. “He has gone to great lengths to protect and cover up and provide immunity to his predecessors and, in doing so, claimed greater powers of secrecy than his predecessor ever claimed.” Of 35 article of impeachment drawn up by Rep. Dennis Kucinich against President George Bush, in 2008, 27 would also apply to Obama, said Swanson. “Many of these are offenses that a great many people would be outraged about – if Obama were a Republican.”
DemoPublicans Speak with Forked Tongue Organizers of the Occupy encampment at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, expect large numbers of protesters to gather for month-long activities in April, including direct actions. In addition to protests, said Dr. Margaret Flowers, “we also need to build something that will replace the power structure.” The Democratic and Republican electoral rhetoric amounts to “a false conversation that’s limited by their corporate funders. The real conversation will be happening in the Occupy movement.”
Stop Stop-and-Frisk “Spying on communities has got to go, stop-and-frisk has got to go,” shouted Kalfani Nkrumah, leading the chants at a Bronx, New York, demonstration by Stop Stop-and-Frisk. “If our elected officials refuse to stand up for us, then they have to go to, too.”
Michelle Authenticates Obama Attendees at a recent conference on “African Identities in the Age of Obama,” at Virginia’s George Mason University, “were outright frank about why they voted for Obama, in 2008: “because he was married to a ‘sister.’” Conference organizer and professor of history Benedict Carton said President Obama “didn’t come from a historical trajectory of slavery in Ameriva and post-slavery dynamics.” African Americans “needed to root him through his wife.”
In the Spirit of Lumumba The election of Patrice Lumumba as prime minister of newly independent Congo, in 1960, was that country’s first and last free election, said Luwezi Kinshasa, secretary general of the African Socialist International and a Congolese. In the spirit of Lumumba, Africans must “struggle to overturn all compromises made with imperialism,” and take ownership of the continent’s resources.
Lynn Stewart’s Appeal On February 29, imprisoned movement lawyer Lynn Stewart appeals her 10 year sentence on charges of aiding “terrorists” – in her defense of “blind sheik” Obama Abdel Rahman, convicted in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. “If there were the rule of law” in the United States,” said Stewart’s husband, Ralph Poynter, “Lynn would not be in jail.”
U.S. Pursues War, Chaos in Middle East and North Africa
“If there is a substantial military strike on Iran, it is going to create mayhem in the region,” said Dr. Vijay Preshad, director of International Studies at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut. “And that is precisely what the Gulf Arabs and the United States would like to see. The last thing they want is a proper Arab Spring germinate into new, democratic regimes in North Africa and Est Asia.”
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Obama to Face Increased Black Criticism
“I think we are going to hear more voices of opposition coming from all sectors of Black leadership, and certainly from the most hard pressed sections of the Black population,” said Dr. Tony Monteiro, professor of African American Studies at Temple University, in Philadelphia. “The decline and disappearance of the Black middle class is not going to go unnoticed.” Seventy-four percent of Blacks see the split between rich and poor as “a manifestation of a deep class conflict in society,” said Dr. Monteiro, citing recent studies by the Pew Center for Research. “You’ve got this residual radicalism, from the period of mass struggle, civil rights and anti-war activism that is manifested in Black identification with socialism. But then when it comes to Obama, everything gets irrational.” Fifty-five percent of African Americans have a positive attitude towards the word “socialism.”
Black Unemployed In Worse Shape Than When Recession ‘Ended’
Black joblessness is higher today than it was in June 2009, the month when the recession was officially declared over, said Dr. Steven Pitts, of the University of California at Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. Black unemployment was 15.8 percent in December, 2011, compared to 14.9 percent in June, 2009. The Center’s annual report on Black unemployment showed virtually “no movement” in 2011, standing at 15.7 percent at the beginning of the year and ending at 15.8. However, “the Black female rate rose and the Black male rate fell.”
Rulers Will Use Race to Exploit Crisis
Author and labor activist Jeffrey Perry, writing in Cultural Logic magazine, said “we are moving into a very deep and serious crisis” in which ruling circles in U.S. society can be expected to turn increasingly to white supremacist appeals. “Reliance on white supremacy has been the key to social control for the U.S. ruling class,” said Perry. “Newt Gingrich is the most outspoken.” Perry’s article focuses on the views of Hubert Harrison, a Harlem Black nationalist and socialist of the early 20th century, and Theodore W. Allen, famous for his book The Invention of the White Race.
Food Stamps Enjoy Wide Support
“Until now,” said Timothy Casey, senior counsel of Legal Momentum, “food stamps have enjoyed strong, bipartisan support.” However, recent attacks by Newt Gingrich and “calls in the House by some Republican leaders to ‘reform’ food stamps” by turning them into block grants “could lead to a sharp reduction in the benefits people receive,” said Casey.
Amnesty International: Blacks Killed, Tortured in Libya
Sanjeev Bery, Amnesty International USA’s Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said Black people have been subjected to “abductions, torture, unfair detention” and extrajudicial killings by U.S.-backed militias in Libya. The abuses stem from “wildly exaggerated rumors” that former Libyan leader Gaddafi employed large numbers of Black mercenaries, said Bery. Those rumors “intersected with pre-existing racism and xenophobia to make many dark-skinned Libyans, as well as sub-Saharan African” into targets of local gunmen. Bery was interviewed by Robert Knight, of Pacifica radio station WBAI, in New York.
Panther Baby, Dr. Jamal Joseph’s memoir on coming of age in the Black Panther Party, debuts in February. Dr. Joseph, an associate professor at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, was the youngest member of the New York 21, Panther Party members who were charged in 1969 – and later acquitted – of plotting to bomb public places.
Obama Would Prefer To Face Most Virulent Right-Wing Opponent
President Obama would prefer that Republicans nominate one of their most right-wing hopefuls “so that the Democrats can move further and further to the right and become completely indistinguishable from the Republican Party,” said political analyst Paul Street. “The further right the enemy they have in the general election, the more they can scare their liberal base.” Street is author of The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama and the Real World of Power.
Both Parties in Flight from Poor People’s Issues
“There has been a bipartisan flight from working people and from poverty,” said Chicago-based labor activist and writer James Thindwa. “The words ‘poor people’ don’t even feature in the political discourse. Both parties are captive to corporate interests. There may be some variance here and there but, fundamentally, they are here to serve capital.” Thindwa is author of the recent In These Times article, “Why Conservatives Can’t Fix Poverty.”
Obama Military Cuts Don’t Lessen War Costs
The administration’s plans to create a leaner military “simply take us back to the very inflated level of 2008 – and that’s not really very much of an achievement,” said Catherine Lutz, editor of The Bases of Power: The Struggle Against U.S. Military Posts. The proposed cuts affect only the “base,” or basic military infrastructure budget. “The war budgets,” such as “the additional trillion dollars allocated for the wars in Iraq in Afghanistan, are not even included in these numbers. Those are off the table for the purposes of these discussions,” said Lutz. “With all the threatening words being exchanged about Iran and the articulated fears about China, we have to worry that there will be a new theater of war before we know it, and then that money will be added on top of” the base military budget.
Drone Warfare Will Lead to Blowback Against U.S.
“We’ve opened up this Pandora’s Box of bombing people all over the world and it’s definitely going to come back on us – blowback,” said Alice Slater, New York director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. “We’re bombing seven countries right now with drones – totally unauthorized by Congress.” The U.S. also pursues policies that discourage nuclear non-proliferation. “If Gaddafi had nuclear weapons, we wouldn’t have bombed Libya. It’s a signal to people on the other end of our aggressive power that they have to protect themselves as best they can.”
New Student Group Against Mass Imprisonment
Students Against Mass Incarceration (SAMI), created early last year at Washington DC’s Howard University, has since expanded to Morgan State University in Baltimore, western Massachusetts, and Columbia University, according to SAMI founder Benjamin Woods. “The prison-industrial complex is a direct outgrowth of the capitalist system,” said Woods, a doctoral candidate. “We want to see people who are most affected” by the repressive apparatus of the state, including political prisoners, providing leadership in the Black community.
P.O.P. Passes Halfway Mark in Newark Protest Marathon
The People’s Organization for Progress (P.O.P.) this week passed the 190-day mark in its daily demonstrations in Newark, New Jersey. “We understood more than a year ago that sporadic protests were not enough,” said P.O.P. chairman Larry Hamm. The grassroots community group has vowed to continue daily demonstrations for at least 381 days, the duration of the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott. P.O.P.’s seven core demands include a federal jobs program, an end to U.S. wars abroad, protection of workers’ rights to unionize and bargain, a moratorium on home foreclosures, universal health care, and programs to preserve public education and make college affordable to all.
U.S. Waging Two-Prong War of Repression
With the signing of preventive detention legislation, Washington is “upping the stakes, where the United States homeland is now part of this so-called global war on terror,” said Tony Monteiro, professor of African American Studies at Temple University, in Philadelphia. “All of us who are in one way or another in solidarity with the Cuban revolution, with 21st Century socialism in Venezuela, are now at the top of a hit list of ‘terrorist supporters’ who could be arrested an detained indefinitely.” He expects the emergence of a “great global movement that has to oppose this international thrust of finance capital and the Obama administration and the other NATO countries. They have to crush the rising class conflict in the United States and in other western capitalist countries,” said Prof. Monteiro. “So you have this two-sided project What they are proposing is a regime of domestic and global repression, of fascism.”
Blacks Will Vote for Obama, But Without Enthusiasm
Most Blacks will still vote for President Obama this year, “but it will be different, this time,” said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. “Before, people thought they had a real champion who was going to make a difference in the lives of Black people, but it didn’t happen. We’re not going to see the same kind of enthusiasm for Obama this time around.” In 2008, “we heard many of our Black leftist friends and many nationalists who were predicting that if Obama didn’t get elected, we would see a police state – but people have experienced that with Obama. We were told there would be economic catastrophe, but that has occurred even with Obama there.” In a lot of ways, said the Black Is Back chairman, “Obama has outdone Bush,” including “the declaration of the right to kill even U.S. citizens any time he wants to.”
UNAC Conference Against Preventive Detention
Preventive detention without trial “is the most serious blow to the Bill of Rights that we have experienced, and it’s no accident that it is occurring while” the U.S. is ”expanding military adventures abroad,” said Chris Gavreau, a spokesperson for UNAC, the United National Anti-War Coalition. “The language is so broad, they will use these laws against anyone that they seriously think is a threat to their ability to implement foreign policy.” UNAC will hold a conference March 23-25 in Stanford, Connecticut, to plan “a broad campaign to fight around indefinite detention” and other civil liberties violations.
For Whom The Whistle Blows
“While there is still a myth of freedom of speech, journalists’ voices worldwide are being drowned out” by imprisonment of those “that speak truth to power,” said veteran whistleblower Marsha Coleman-Adebayo. “We have a state-run media in this country – what we call the corporate media – that is influenced more by corporate pressures and by money and politics, than by a search for truth,” said the former Environmental Protection Agency official whose battle with the agency led to landmark protections for federal employees that speak out. “Journalists as whistleblowers, whistleblowers as journalists – at some point it would be lovely to see those communities merge.”
UN Force Should Leave Haiti
The United Nations has failed to acknowledge its responsibility for the cholera deaths of 6,000 Haitians and the sickening a half a million others, despite the fact that the world body’s “own report is the most persuasive evidence of the UN’s culpability,” said Fran Quigley, director of the Health and Human Rights Clinic at the University of Indiana Law School. Quigley recently returned from a fact-find trip to Haiti, where “a lot of people think its long past time for the peacekeepers to leave, even before this deadly cholera outbreak.” Haitians should have their rights protected, including from the United Nations,” said the law professor.
Preventive Detention Threatens Occupiers, All Dissidents
The recently passed preventive detention measure poses a direct threat to the Occupation movement, said Dr. Margaret Flowers, an organizer with the encampment at Washington DC’s Freedom Plaza. People in power would like to paint dissenters as allies of terrorism. “Occupy London was actually determined by London police to be a terrorist organization,” said Flowers. Had she even imagined, back in 2008, that Barack Obama would be leading the preventive detention charge? “It doesn’t matter who is put into the system, it only works for the top one percent,” she said.
The Democrats’ “Killing Embrace”
The Occupy movement is constantly “being invited into the killing embrace of the Democratic Party,” which is ”just another face of the enemy,” said Carl Dix, of the Revolutionary Communist Party. Dix, a founder of “Stop Stop-and-Frisk,” harkened back to 2008, when virtually the entire Left “got swept up in Obamamania.” “The guy who says he is the best leader for the empire isn’t going to represent your interests,” he said. NATO Committed War Crimes Against Libyan Civilians
NATO’s refusal to investigate civilian deaths in its seven-month bombing campaign against Libya is in violation of Article 15 of the Geneva Convention on the Wounded and Sick, Francis Boyle, the world-renowned University of Illinois professor of international law. The Article states that combatants are obligated “to go out and search for the wounded and sick, also the dead,” said Boyle, “but it doesn’t look like NATO really cares.” In fact, NATO policy was not to investigate civilian deaths in Libya – a practice that guaranteed the official death toll would be zero. “To violate the Geneva Conventions is a war crime, there is no doubt about it,” said Boyle.
Christmas in Newark is for Demonstrations
For the People’s Organization for Progress (POP), Christmas was simply day-182 of its marathon of demonstrations for jobs, housing, education, justice and peace. POP and its many allies spent the holiday at their usual places of protest in downtown Newark, New Jersey, keeping a promise to demonstrate for 381 consecutive days – the duration of the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott. Min. Thomas Ellis, of the anti-violence Enough is Enough Coalition, said “fighting for jobs for people in the community is one of the issues that we stand with POP on…. POP stood up against the war before the war started in Iraq, and the Enough is Enough Coalition stood with them on the corners of Broad and Market Streets, in March, 2003.”
American Revolution was a Racist Revolt
Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston, said, the American revolt of 1776 against British rule “was basically a successful revolt of racist settlers. It was akin to Rhodesia, in 1965, assuming that Ian Smith and his cabal had triumphed. It was akin to the revolt of the French settlers in Algeria, in the 1950s and 1960s, assuming those French settlers had triumphed.” Dr. Horne explores the racist roots on the American Revolution in his new book, Negroes of the Crown. “It was very difficult to construct a progressive republic in North America after what was basically a racist revolt,” said Horne. “The revolt was motivated in no small part by the fact that abolitionism was growing in London…. This is one of the many reasons more Africans by an order of magnitude fought against the rebels in 1776, than fought alongside them.”
Black Ministers Form “Occupy The Dream” in “Lock-Stop” with OWS
“The Black church cannot afford to sit on the sidelines, but must be on the front lines of this fight for justice,” said Rev. Jamal Bryant, of the newly-formed Occupy the Dream movement. Bryant, who was joined at a Washington press conference by former NAACP executive director Dr. Benjamin Chavis and Occupy Wall Street activist David DeGraw, said African American clergy will demand an immediate moratorium on housing foreclosures, strengthening of rights to Pell Grants for college education, and $100 billion from Wall Street for economic development. “These companies owe a debt to the citizens that made them the wealthy entities that they are,” said Rev. Bryant, calling the sum a “drop in the bucket.” Occupy the Dream will target Federal Reserve sites in various cities on January 16, Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, depositing crutches, walkers and wheelchairs at the scene to symbolize how the economy has been crippled by the quasi-public agency’s policies.
“We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the African American community in this campaign for economic fairness and justice, said David DeGraw, reading a statement written by “about 30” Occupy Wall Street organizers.” Rev. Chavis, now a co-chair, along with media mogul Russell Simmons, of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network, said, “It is in our interest to build coalitions beyond ourselves.” Black people must “participate in our own resurrection, our own empowerment.”
Black Church Not the “Lynchpin” of Rights Fight
“Black American thinkers running the gamut from liberal, progressive to radical espoused secular humanist views on white supremacy, economic capitalist exploitation, women’s rights, on imperialism, all of the issues that affect contemporary African Americans,” said activist and scholar Sikivu Hutchinson, author of Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars. Even Dr. Martin Luther King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference “were actively disavowed and demonized by the mainstream Black church organizations for their radicalism, particularly Dr. King during the latter part of his life,” said Hutchinson. “This idea that Black theological traditions are the lynchpin of Black human rights thought and civil rights resistance and political organizing, is extremely egregious.”
People’s Organization for Progress to Rally for Voting Rights, Economic Justice
“The issues that P.O.P. is fighting about are issues of working people,” said Adrienne Taylor, an activist with the Communications Workers of America, Local 1040, in Newark, New Jersey. P.O.P marks day 176 of its planned 381-day marathon of daily demonstrations for jobs, education, housing, justice and peace, with a major rally for economic justice and voting rights set for January 15. Protesters will be on the streets of Newark on Christmas and New Years, said P.O.P. president Larry Hamm.
Congress Doesn’t Care if DC Residents “Live or Die”
Government-funded abortions and free needle programs have once again been made illegal in Washington, DC. The U.S. Congress, which under the Constitution has exclusive control over the nation’s capital, “is riding our backs into the grave,” said Anise Jenkins, of the Stand Up for Democracy in DC Coalition. “They don’t care if we live or die.” President Obama “was willing, as he was in April, to sell us out,” despite having gotten “over 90 percent of our vote” in the 2008 election, said Jenkins. “Does he expect us to continue to vote for him, because he thinks we have no alternative?” She urged support for legislation that would make Washington, DC, a state. “We’re the only jurisdiction in the country that has to suffer this oppression” of rule by Congress. Most Blacks, and Nearly Half of Americans, Are Economically Insecure
A study shows 62 percent of African American households and 45 percent of all American families live with economic insecurity. Donna Addkison, president of Wider Opportunities for Women, which commissioned the study, found that 80 percent of single Black mothers “working the equivalent of full time still are not earning enough to get” beyond economic insecurity. “We’re talking about a baseline, we’re not talking about even cable television or cell phones,” but the costs of housing, food, transportation, health care and child care, “basic needs,” said Addkison. “Economic issues are women’s issues.”
Political Prisoners Central to Black Movement
Movement-building “must deeply involve the plight of political prisoners,” said Dr. Jared Ball, editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report and professor of communications at Morgan State University, in Baltimore. Political prisoners should be valued for their experience, their analysis, “and the standard they set for the rest of us,” said Ball. The movement “wouldn’t do half bad by replacing some of the Dysons, Simmons and Sharptons with folks like Ashanti Alston, Mutulu Shakur and Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoats.” Buju Banton Appeals 10-Year Sentence
Lawyers for Jamaican Reggae and Dance Hall artist Buju Banton have appealed his ten-year conviction on cocaine charges in a trap set by the Drug Enforcement Agency. “Buju Banton has a voice that many in conservative positions and in power would rather see silenced,” said Aula Sumbry, of the Buju Banton Defense Support Committee. The singer is currently incarcerated in a prison near Miami.
Congolese Election A Fraud
“The results of the elections are clearly showing that there was fraud, a staged kind of fraud,” said Bahati Jacques, of the African Faith and Justice Network. Jacques, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, suggests a negotiated solution that would impose a runoff election between President Joseph Kabila and the official second-place candidate, Etienne Tshisekedi. Or, Tshisekedi could be proclaimed president, on the basis that the party that engaged “in fraud deserves no trust at all.”
Mumia Being Set Up for Assassination
Pennsylvania authorities intend to have Mumia Abu Jamal killed if he is transferred to the general inmate population, said Pam Africa, of International Family and Friends of Mumia Abu Jamal. The Philadelphia District Attorney agreed last week to no longer pursue the death penalty in the killing of a police officer, 30 years ago. “This is a devious trick of theirs,” said Ms. Africa. “This is the same government that attempted to assassinate [American Indian Movement activist] Leonard Peltier, this is the same government that murdered [San Quentin inmate and Black Panther] George Jackson, and the list goes on.”
McKinney: Preventive Detention to Quell Dissent
Former Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney denounced congressional moves to establish indefinite preventive detention for so-called terrorism suspects, including U.S. citizens. “What happens to a group of people who want to go to Libya and report the truth?” asked the former Georgia congresswoman, who led several fact-finding delegations to Libya before and during the NATO assault on that country. “Who will they put on the terrorist list, to be detained? It could be you, it could be me, it could be the young people of Occupy, it could be anyone who dares to dissent.”
Blacks Must Return to Grass Roots Organizing
“The idea that protest politics is played out, or that it doesn’t garner results, is completely ahistorical,” said Newark city councilman Ras Baraka, a speaker at a People’s Organization for Progress (POP) rally, last week. “Everything we have been able to do in this community and this country has always centered around our ability to organize to protest, to march, to sit in, to speak out,” said Councilman Baraka, a school principle whose father is the poet and activist Amiri Baraka. Since June, POP has held daily demonstrations for jobs, housing, adequate education, social justice and peace, and vows to continue for 381 days, to match the duration of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Actions on Foreclosures
Organizations associated with the Occupy movement and The New Bottom Line launched campaigns against home foreclosures in dozens of cities. New York Communities for Change targeted properties abandoned by banks and “severely over-leveraged buildings that are not getting any repairs done,” said NYCC legal and political director Amelia Adams. In Minneapolis, Neighborhoods for Change joined with OWS to send teams to live with families in two foreclosed properties. Out-of-work householder Monique White said she believed, mistakenly, that “the Obama [home foreclosure] program was for people like myself,” while Vietnam-ear veteran Bobby Hull reported that when he tried to join the program with Bank of America, “they could never find my information, and then didn’t converse with me.”
Give the Broadcast Spectrum to the People
Members of the Georgia Green Party, local Occupiers and Atlanta community radio station WRFG demanded that the Federal Communications Commission halt auctions of the broadcast spectrum to private parties and make commercial media pay the cost of community broadcasting. “The FCC ought to give these frequencies back to the public, back to not-for-profit community broadcasters, who will be glad to provide access to local voices, local news coverage and public service that commercial broadcasters have refused to provide us,” said Bruce Dixon, a Green Party activist and managing editor of Black Agenda Report.
Congo Elections Rigged
Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila engineered his own reelection by pushing through constitutional changes that eliminated a runoff vote and by appointing his own supporters as judges and elections officials, said Kambale Musavuli, of Friends of the Congo. “Kabila is supported by the United States,” he said. Despite the election theft, “We Congolese can organize to make sure that we really achieve the independence that Patrice Lumumba dreamed of in 1960.”
Jared Ball: J Edgar a “Horror Film”
In Clint Eastwood’s new film J Edgar, the infamous “Hoover returns, even in death, to remind the liberal, the affluent, the white, that their place atop the social pyramid is legitimate and must be protected by any means necessary,” says BAR columnist Jared Ball. “Black activists don’t even appear…. We get nothing of his concern over the Black Panther Party, or the surveillance and deportation of people like Claudia Jones and CLR James, or culpability in the killings of Malcolm X and Fred Hampton, to name a few.” Download this episode (right click and save)
Obama’s Civil Liberties Record “Very, Very Bad”
Under President Obama, the state of civil liberties in the U.S. has become “very, very bad” and is “actually worse” than under the Bush administration, said Bill Quigley, Loyola University professor of law and associate legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. One reason for the decline is that “so many of us were beguiled by the beautiful rhetoric and speaking voice of President Obama,” said Quigley, author of a recent article titled “Twenty Examples of the Obama Administration Assault on Domestic Civil Liberties.” Had President Bush or a President McCain undermined civil liberties to the extent that Obama has, “people would have protested, would have organized, would have educated and would have challenged” the Republican in the White House.
Ejected Occupiers Should “Come on Down” to DC
As Occupy sites are shut down one by one across the country, dislodged activists should relocate to the Occupy Washington DC encampment at Freedom Plaza, said David Swanson, activist and publisher of the influential web site War Is A Crime. The Occupy Movement needs to target the political servants of Wall Street in Washington, as well as the finance capitalists in Manhattan. “We have to go after both the people who are funding the campaigns and asking for the corruption, and those [politicians] who are soliciting and accepting the money.”
Poverty, Not OWS, is a Public Health and Safety Hazard
It is the height of hypocrisy for big city mayors to close down Occupation sites on the “pretext” of public health and safety, when Black neighborhoods face jobless rates of 30-35 percent, representing huge threats to life and limb. Activist and author Paul Street said Black communities are “plagued by a host of incredible public health and safety issues,” with boarded up homes, no place to buy fresh vegetables, and an absence of doctors. Street wrote the article “Urban Neoliberal Racism, Mass Poverty, and the Repression of Occupy Wall Street.”
Occupation Movement Can’t Substantiate Its Claims
“It’s a positive thing that large numbers of white youth have become somewhat socially engaged and been willing to try to step out and put themselves on the forefront of some aspects of the social struggle,” said Kali Akuno, of the U.S. Human Rights Network. “The negative piece, however, is making claims that can’t be substantiated, because they haven’t organized the 99%.” Black communities have “started to step out and say, Hey, we like some of what we see” in OWS, “but we object to folks speaking in our name and trying to articulate our interests without our input.” Akuno reserved particular criticism for the Occupy effort in Atlanta, where he is based.
NYC Top Cop Gets Bull Connor Award
New York City police commissioner Raymond Kelly is the winner of the Bull Connor Award, named for the Birmingham, Alabama, public safety commissioner who set dogs on Black children in 1963. Kelly oversees a stop-and-frisk policy that is on track to accost and humiliate 700,000 people, this year, the vast majority of them Black and Latino. Kelly has proven himself, like Connor, to be unrelenting “in hounding Blacks and Latinos, persecuting Freedom Fighters, and keeping the city safe for upper class white men. ” Newark’s People’s Organization for Progress Adds Allies
“I think it is really important that union people and progressive groups support each other,” said Pat Fahy, of Newark, New Jersey’s IBEW Local 827, who had just addressed a rally of POP, People’s Organization for Progress. POP has been holding daily demonstrations since June for jobs, social justice, adequate housing, education and peace, and has so far been joined by over 110 community, church, student and labor groups. Employers Steal Workers Blind. Employer theft of worker wages is rampant in the U.S., said Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice and author of “Wage Theft: Why Millions of Americans Are Not Getting Paid and What They Can Do About It.” One out of four low wage workers isn’t paid the minimum wage and three-quarters of low wage workers are not paid overtime, said Bobo. She blames much of the problem on declining union strength and “ridiculously weak” federal enforcement of workers’ rights.
Cornel West: OWS Has Changed Public Discourse
“There’s been a shift in public discourse towards truth and justice,” said Black public intellectual Cornel West, “the truth about corporate greed, the truth of escalating poverty, the truth about obscene levels of unemployment and, we hope, the truth about arbitrary military power abroad and arbitrary police power at home.” Dr. West, who recently relocated from Princeton University to New York’s Union Theological Seminary, lamented unquestioning African American allegiance to Barack Obama, despite the First Black President’s pro-corporate policies. “Our precious Black brothers and sisters are so desperate, so scared,” he said. “We’ve got lackluster, milquetoast leadership that doesn’t want to tell the people the truth.”
Stop-and-Frisk Action in Sean Bell Precinct
Twenty people were arrest at the Queens, New York precinct in the neighborhood where Sean Bell was killed in a fusillade of police bullets, five years ago. About 200 people took part in the demonstrations, according to “Stop Stop-and-Frisk” leader Carl Dix. “What’s been needed is mass resistance,” said Dix. “The New Jim Crow is meeting some new freedom fighters.” The group holds a citywide Day of Student Action Against Stop-and-Frisk on December 2, spearheaded by a contingent from Columbia University.
Uhuru Joins POP in Newark
The International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement sent delegations from Philadelphia and Washington, DC, to join demonstrations for jobs, peace, equality and justice organized by the People’s Organization for Progress – or POP – in Newark, New Jersey. Uhuru Movement leader Diop Olugbala said the same tyranny of corporations and banks that exists in Newark also prevails in Philadelphia, Washington and every other major U.S. city. POP has been holding daily protests for five months.
Mass Demonstrations Planned for Chicago
The United National Anti-War Coalition, UNAC, is determined to hold mass demonstrations in May against meetings of NATO and the wealthy G-8 nations, in Chicago, despite government plans to put severe limitations on protests. UNAC spokesperson Chris Gavreau says the feds are categorizing the meetings as “National Security Events.” “I believe that means they are declaring the rules on civil liberties and the right to protest are off the table,” she said. UNAC demands the right to protest the G-8’s “austerity cutbacks and other horrors” and NATO’s “bombing of Libya, the occupation of Afghanistan and new outrages all over the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.”
Every Armed American Must Leave Iraq
Despite the Obama administration’s claims that U.S. withdrawal from Iraq will be complete by the end of the year, “the State Department seems to be planning to leave 16,000 personnel in Iraq,” including “8,000 armed military contractors, or mercenaries,” said Raed Jarrar, a Washington-base Iraqi-American journalist and political analyst. He points out that 16,000 men is the equivalent of an Army division. “There are no other examples of an embassy this size anywhere in the world.”
U.S. Public Opinion Counts for Nothing
All that the so-called congressional SuperCommittee had to do, if it really wanted to cut the deficit properly, according to University of Massachusetts political scientist Thomas Ferguson, “was listen to public opinion.” Polls show “by over 2 to 1, Americans want higher taxes on the rich, and they don’t want cuts in Social Security and Medicare.” So, what did the Democrats do? “They begin by offering cuts in Social Security and Medicare,” said Prof. Ferguson. “Popular opinion plays almost no role in what these guys decide to do.” By elevating deficits over job-creation, U.S. politicians “are discrediting the whole political system.”
California Prison Strikers Said to Commit Suicide
Three inmates who took part in hunger strikes against California’s high security confinement practices were found dead, apparent suicides. Isaac Ontiveros, of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, said the deaths point out the need to “call solitary confinement what it is: torture.” Classically, said Ontiveos “torture is used to cause despair…to create a climate of profound and disorienting uncertainty.” Download this episode (right click and save)
Derivatives at Root of Banking Problem
The very existence of $600 trillion-plus in derivatives, most of them held by “about six banks,” represents a grave threat to the global financial system, said Karanja Gacuca, a member of the People of Color Working Group of the Occupy Wall Street movement, in New York City. Banks are hoarding money, refusing to make job-producing investments, because “if any of these six banks defaulted, the effects to the economy would be catastrophic,” said Gacuca, whose background is in finance. The entire world’s gross annual product is only about $64 trillion. “Some of those banks have to fail. I really don’t see how we get out of this.”
Occupy Movement is Making Clear Demands
“I’ve been to 16 occupations and at every one I’ve heard the same thing: get money out of politics,” said Arun Gupta, who helped found The Occupy Wall Street Journal and is covering the national occupation story for Salon and Alternet. “It is a message about extreme concentration of wealth and power, and that wealth is used to dominate the political system. There is a very clear demand of what people do want.” Gupta concedes that many Occupiers still think in “moralistic terms, like greed,” despite the fact that “the laws of capitalism impel the corporations towards buying the system…. It’s probably the greatest return on investment you can get.”
Wealth, Not Deficit, is the Problem
“The truth is, we don’t have a deficit problem,” said Dr. Margaret Flowers, an organizer with Occupy DC, encamped at Washington’s Freedom Plaza. “We have the wealth in this country to meet our needs, but our government is not willing to take that revenue from the rich and major corporations.” Occupy DC HYPERLINK "http://october2011.org/blogs/kevin-zeese/99-s-deficit-proposal-how-create-jobs-reduce-wealth-divide-and-control-spending"held hearings on the so-called congressional SuperCommittee’s mandate to make vast cuts in federal spending. Of the ten biggest contributors to the 12 senators and representatives on the panel, six are mega-banks, one is Microsoft, and the other is the huge corporate law firm Skadden, Arps.
Black Chicago Gears Up for Housing Push and NATO/G-8 Meetings
Under the umbrella of Occupy the Hood, Chicago Black activists are “focusing on tasks in our communities that have been neglected for so long,” said veteran organizer Pat Hill. She acknowledged that, these days, corporate media tend to pay more attention to Black activism when the “Occupy” label is attached. The next community offensive is called “Homes for the Holidays,” to tackle the housing crisis in Black neighborhoods. Then, in the spring, local activists will join with national organizations to confront simultaneous Chicago meetings of NATO and G-8, the organization of the world’s wealthiest nations. “We are actively involved in that, and intend to exercise our First Amendment rights” in the face of heavy security measures.
The Hood and Occupy Boston Didn’t Mix Well
Some Black activists who attempted to collaborate with Boston’s OWS outfit came away less than satisfied. Jamal Crawford, of the city’s Occupy The Hood umbrella, cited the Boston OWS’s “leaderless structure,” “lack of foundational principles,” and “lack of organization” – as well as “abundant” white privilege and instances of racism – for failure to forge a working relationship. “The question has never been, Can Black people navigate in a white world, because that’s something we’ve been doing,” said Crawford. “The real question has been, Can white people navigate in a Black world – and that remains to be seen.” Crawford, however, credits OWS headquarters in New York with having been “very supportive of Occupy The Hood.”
Occupation Has Energized Oakland Black and Brown Movement
“This current moment has opened up a lot of opportunities for us to get more resources, in terms of new people who are really motivated,” said Robbie Clark, a housing activist with the Oakland-based non-profit Just Cause. “A lot of organizations are willing to come together about how to win some concrete demands, especially around bank accountability, workers rights and immigrant rights.” Clark said “people are learning from how the Occupiers have been able to engage masses of people” – even if those masses are not necessarily Black and brown. The Occupiers have also learned from local activists of color, said Clark. “This movement around economic equality can be traced back to Reconstruction: 40 acres and a mule.”
Under Obama, Rule of Law Crumbles
“The president can commit murder whenever he wants,” said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, citing the string of U.S. and allied assassinations that have marked the past year of Barack Obama’s presidency. “This is the man who won the Nobel Peace Prize, and now he believes he can launch drones all over the world,” said Ratner. “This [Libya] is about the sixth war that Obama is involved in, and it looks like he is more of a warlike president than almost anybody we’ve ever had.” In the current era, all U.S. ware are waged in pursuit of global hegemony – and, specifically, to corner oil supplies. “We have to end our support for militarism, just as Dr. (Martin Luther] King said.”
BAR’s Dr. Jared Ball explores the cooptation of Hip Hop, not just by media moguls and commercial marketers, but by the U.S. State Department – “a situation where hip-hop is turned against itself and, indeed, the world.”