by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon At the Nobel announcement of this year's peace prize a reporter asked the Nobel spokesman “why”, since the man had only been in office less than a year, and had done so little to merit the honor. The spokesman replied that the prize had been given not so much for anything Obama had done, but in the spirit of hope and encouragement, for what he might do. Maybe.
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
Strange things happen when members of the oppressed and despised group rise to power and fame. Their backgrounds are magnified, yet still remain one-dimensional in the larger society's eyes. In failing to respect Michelle Obama's ancestors, whose story is common to most Black lineages, the New York Times disrespects the First Lady, as well.
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“When Barack Obama declares he is presiding over 'necessary' wars, then those who seek peace must organize the necessary resistance to his wars.” That responsibility weighs even more heavily on Black activists, who must “reignite a Black-led movement to confront this administration's war policies, at home and abroad.” The date is November 7th. The place is Washington, DC.
Charges of genocide against four administrations in Washington and London document the continuity of U.S. and British crimes against Iraq. For nearly a generation, the U.S. and U.K. have collaborated in the attempted murder of a nation. It remains a crime in progress.
A successful movement for change needs more than energy and commitment – it also requires “people feverishly working to redefine for all who want to be active...just what the prize is.” When a war-expanding president is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, peace itself is in need of redefinition. Only the forces of death prosper when “people believe that war is peace, slavery is freedom, ignorance is strength, and lies are truth.”
“Nobel Prizes are offered by the royalists, the status quo upholders, the deniers of class society.” Such people don't want peace, but stability for the existing order. The Nobel Committee prizes continuity above all else. That's why they gave Barack Obama their vote of confidence in his bid to maintain U.S. global domination while shouting less and smiling more. “Barack Obama’s win is the most natural continuation of Nobel Peace Prize tradition.”
The White House kicked off its national initiative against youth violence in Chicago, but community activists charge Administration school policies have exacerbated the mayhem on the streets. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan set off a spiral of violence when he closed down Black neighborhood schools as head Chicago's system. Duncan's shutdowns forced students to cross gang lines to get to and from school every day – a sometimes fatal journey that students across the country will travel more often under President Obama's education plan.
Wall Street's subprime mortgage assault on Black America threatens to wipe out a generation of African American equity, but it's not the first time. The FHA-HUD scandals of the 1970s laid waste to Black neighborhoods in cities across the nation, causing far more damage and urban instability than the “riots” of the previous decade. It appears that few things are more destructive than felonious capital.
The U.S. and Israel, the “most aggressive” nations in the world, routinely commit crimes against international law and civilized norms. Yet they feel quite comfortable in claiming moral authority in the community of nations. Meanwhile, “freedom fighters are branded as terrorists,” and “resistance to oppression is deemed divisive and futile.” Black America understands U.S. barbarity from direct experience. “For the African-American people, the battle cry must be: No War on Iran!”
* Refuse it, like Vietnam's Le Duc Tho did in 1973, because nothing like peace is even on the horizon
* Take it and laugh, like Henry Kissinger also in 1973, less than a year after his Christmas bombing of Hanoi
* Donate the money to Palestinian children maimed by US ordnance in Gaza last year
* Convene another beer summit with Bibi Netenyahu and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (he can drink O'Douls)
On October 8, seven demonstrators were arrested at the Chicago offices of Cigna Insurance. The protests are part of a series begun in New York last week and slated to spread to at least ten cities next week including Washington DC.
"Single payer is inevitable; it’s going to happen," said Kevin Zeese of Prosperity Agenda, one of the nationwide initiators of the campaign. "The question is when." Those who want to make it happen, he added, can sign up at www.mobilizeforhealthcare.com. Just under 700 have already volunteered to risk arrest to make Medicare For All, the only workable plan for universal health care, a near-term reality.
Last week 17 people were arrested in the New York offices of Aetna Insurance, demanding Medicare For All. This week the wave of sit-ins will hit insurance companies in Chicago.
Next week, say organizers, as many as 15 cities will see civilly disobedient actions demanding the kind of everybody-in-nobody-out kind of health care that polling shows two thirds of Americans want, but Washington seems unable to deliver.
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
The first Black president, having just smacked down New York state's first Black governor, refuses to endorse the Democrat who would be New York City's second Black mayor. Is there a pattern here? And where is that “newly energized, enlightened and involved citizenry” that Barack Obama had called forth. Black voters appear to have returned to the apathy from whence they came.
The gentry-pursued Black and poor population of Chicago got a reprieve from the Olympic committee last week. Now it's Rio de Janeiro's turn to invent clever ways to clear out the shantytowns so the games may begin without the distractions of poverty. Walls are already going up around the favelas, to keep the dark hordes from spoiling the sports.
A new study shows the corporate news media behave as if their primary audience is comprised of the rich and powerful. Issues dear to the hearts (sic) of bankers in New York and Washington insiders dominate the “news,” while stories about jobs, housing and consumer prices are few and far between. In the Great Recession, “the rich use their media monopoly to starve the public of the fundamental facts of national economic life.”
Supporters of African independence are generally pleased that the U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM, has not yet established an official headquarters on the continent, for fear of igniting anti-imperialist passions. But AFRICOM does have a major base on the continent, and more than half the militaries of Africa are at this moment being trained by AFRICOM units.
In a nation of 300 million that's half-female, only a select group is entitled to rank among the high-profile “missing,” should they disappear. “In the national 'victim-ocracy,' small town, suburban and/or university affiliated white women get the most play as valued human interest subjects and cultural possessions.” Skin and class privilege are highly relevant, even if (or especially if) you've vanished from sight.
Eight years ago this week California's Rep. Barbara Lee was the only member of the US House of Representatives with the courage and integrity to vote against the president's invasion of Afghanistan. Currently the sponsor of another resolution to prevent President Obama from escalating this futile and unjust war, Rep. Lee is interviewed by Juan Gonzalez on Democracy Now.
For 30 years, it bothered the U.S. government not one bit that film director Roman Polanski lived free and well in Europe, a fugitive from a 1977 charge of drugging a minor to have sex with her. What a contrast with the elephant-like memory and unrelenting viciousness of U.S. lawmen when it comes to Black Panthers and other radicals accused of ancient (alleged) crimes.
The U.S. wants film director Roman Polanski extradited from Switzerland to face the music for his sexual encounter with a 13-year-old girl, 30 years ago. Meanwhile, the U.S. harbors the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, wanted for numerous crimes over a long and murderous career, including blowing up an airliner in flight. Ain't American “values” wonderful?
President Obama attempts to depict proponents of Medicare for all as lefty health care “extremists.” But that’s precisely the kind of “robust” public plan favored by two-thirds of Americans, according to a recent poll. Obama is to the Right of the people, and the GOP is off the map.
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
The youthful Barack Obama was a strange variety of “community organizer” - he didn't like protests. Obama's feelings haven't changed in the interim. The president believes protesters like those that showed up for the G20 summit, in Pittsburgh, are obsessed with some “generic” version of capitalism that throws people out of work and creates wars. But that's all in their heads. The First Black President said so.
Teachers in a small school district in the Puget Sound region of Washington went on strike against the corporate “reform” juggernaut – and survived the experience. “For 17 days, Kent teachers held the line against the usual Dickensian shopkeeper horse manure that dominates the public education debate in the United States.” The community stood with them.
If you managed to attend the annual DC gathering of the Congressional Black Caucus last week you know it was more the "Corporate Black Caucus" that was on display. Goodie bags from Coca-cola, a health care summit sponsored by Pfizer, and the logos from Wal-Mart, Lockheed and Boeing were everywhere to tell you who paid the bills and called the shots at this annual celebration of supposed black political empowerment. In the midst of this den of corporate iniquity, Russell Moniker from Single Payer Action cornered Rep. Conyers to inquire on the status of single payer.
Hyatt Hotels pounced on their Boston housekeepers like a great predator, firing the staff without notice and attempting to replace them at half the wages. A governor and a union stepped up in solidarity with the workers, who had been subjected to cruel, but not unusual, treatment in this late stage of capitalism.
If all the talk of economic “recovery” sound insane to the growing ranks of the unemployed and dispossessed, they're right. “The great investment banks are through, dead and gone, no longer willing or able to gather trillions in capital for any enterprise vaguely resembling national economic development.” All that's left is The Casino.
When the people who preside over the largest economies on the planet come to visit, the town goes on lockdown. This year, in Pittsburgh, strange and painful sounds pierced the air, weapons of mass control similar to “devices that have been used in Fallujah, Mosul and Basra Iraq.”
“People who habitually describe other people as 'human resources' scare me,” writes the author. Disrespect for Jamaica's people – by the people's own government – has contributed to the flight of 80 percent of the island's graduates. A civil service exodus may be next. “We are being asked to beat up civil servants while allowing the wealthy to behave like 18th century plantation owners and slave-masters.”
The generous, expansive public option on the lips of Congressional progressives, which would be open to all and compete to lower insurance prices is largely imaginary, while the president's stingy, divisive and means-tested version is all too real. But what about the third version of the public option? What is the Congressional Progressive Caucus doing to promote it, and to allow states to pursue single payer on their own?
(an unedited draft of this story was erroneously posted yesterday, this is the corrected version.)
People who remember the days when Black elected officials were scarce and low-ranked, might conclude that last week's spectacle is a good problem to have: A Black president carrying out the “political execution” of a Black state governor. But what does this episode say about Black voting strategies and the value of role models?
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