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    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 4/28/14

    Philly Throws a Party for Mumia

    Mumia Abu Jamal’s hometown turned out for a day-long celebration of the nation’s best-known political prisoner’s 60th birthday. “This government was hell-bent on killing Mumia” for the 1981 death of a Philadelphia policeman, said Pam Africa, head of International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia. The former Black Panther and radio journalist is alive because “we formulated what was known as Millions for Mumia” that unleashed “bombs of truth.”

    High Court Brings Back Old Jim Crow

    The U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold a Michigan referendum banning affirmative action “reinstitutes a policy of state’s rights that characterized the old Jim Crow,” said Shanta Driver, of Detroit-based By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), who argued the case before the High Court. Worse, the ruling means “that a white majority in any state can create unequal access to the political process and discriminate against Black, Latino and Native American communities.”

    Socialist Alternative Gears Up to Put Wage Hike on Seattle Ballot

    The Socialist Alternative party and its allies plan to collect 50,000 signatures to put a $15 an hour minimum wage proposal on the ballot in Seattle. Kshama Sawant, who won a seat on the local city council last year on a wage hike platform, warned 500 delegates to a national 15 Now conference that Seattle’s mayor is backing a watered down measure that would delay the increase for 3 to 4 years for big businesses and phase in the raise over 5 to 7 years for smaller firms, with no cost-of-living increases until the phase-ins are complete. Sawant recalled a low-wage worker’s response to the phase-ins: “Dear Mayor,” he wrote. “If I phase in my rent over 7 years, will the police not evict me?” Sawant told the crowd: “We have to continue to build a movement, never forgetting that the forces of big business, the forces of the super-wealthy, the forces of capitalism, are going to be relentless.”

    Secret Trade Treaty Aimed at China

    President Obama’s proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade treaty with 11 Asian and Pacific nations “is shrouded in secrecy because the only way they can pass this is if we don’t know what’s in it,” said Kevin Zeese, co-director of It’s Our Economy. Leaks of the treaty’s text “show that there are no protections for the environment” and that “Obama is pushing the most corporate position of any country involved” in the negotiations. Zeese said the pact is linked to a U.S. military encirclement of China.

    Minorities to Lose Under Internet Pay-for-Speed Rules

    The National Hispanic Media Coalition has weighed in against the Federal Communications Commission proposal to allow big corporations to buy faster speed on the Internet. “The Internet has been a democratizing force,” said Jessica Gonzalez, the coalition’s general counsel and executive vice president. “Through the Internet, we’ve been able to tell our stories and to organize for change.” Under the FCC’s new proposal, “where there’s a fast lane, and the rest of us who can’t pay, who aren’t wealthy, have to go into the slow lane, we don’t have the same opportunity.”

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    Supreme Court: White Majorities Über Alles

    by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

    “Black folks have no rights that white majorities are bound to respect.” That’s the message from the U.S. Supreme Court, which declared diversity programs an option that white majorities can legally ban. The High Court also safeguards the right of the rich to dominate elections. This week’s ruling shows that the Roberts Court “knows how to serve both majorities of whites and Big Capital, too.”

    The Field Negroes’ Agenda: Reclamation, Reparations and Repatriation

    by Mark P. Fancher

    The author believes African liberation and the fall of U.S. imperialism can be achieved by triumph of the “Three R’s”: Reclamation, Reparations and Repatriation. In terms of day to day struggle, that translates as “pressuring the U.S. military out of Africa, assisting on the return of Africa’s land and mineral wealth to Africans, and supporting the unity of a truly independent African continent.”

    Public Enemy or Talented Tenth? The War Against Black Children

    by Sikivu Hutchinson

    Blacks are the scapegoats for America’s failure to keep pace in the world. “For a nation brainwashed into believing the U.S. is an exceptionalist beacon, the underachievement of black students has become both shorthand for and explanation of its low standing in academic rankings.” The truth is, America programs Black kids to fail at every level of the education system.

    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 9/18/13

    Obama Still Looking for War Excuse

    The Obama administration is “thrashing everywhere to find a new excuse to rev up another war threat,” said Sara Flounders, of UNAC, the United National Anti-War Coalition. The president’s current willingness to negotiate with the Russians over Syria “is a tactical retreat that gives the anti-war movement more time to organize.”

    American Exceptionalism=White Supremacy

    The American “exceptionalism” that President Obama cited in his Syria speech “is rooted in a notion of unacknowledged white supremacy,” said Ajamu Baraka, associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. For 500 years, European colonists have claimed the privilege “to determine who has the right to sovereignty, who has the right to rule, who should have the authority in certain countries,” said Baraka. “It’s nothing more than the dressed up re-articulation of the White Man’s Burden.”

    Nuclear-Chemical Israel

    Syria admitted possession of chemical weapons at least a year ago, according to Sam Husseini, of the Institute for Public Accuracy, citing a 2012 article from American Interest magazine. “Everything that I’ve been able to find indicates that Israel continues to build up its chemical weapons capacity,” said Husseini. “What is ironic,” however, “is that it is Israel that does not acknowledge its possession of nuclear weapons.”

    When U.S. Presidents Want War, They Get War

    “I can’t think of a time when a president said, ‘I want to begin bombing another country,’ and has not gotten to do it,” said Norman Solomon, co-founder of RootsAction.Org. “By hook or crook, it gets done.” However, this time around, “the militaristic center could not hold,” forcing President Obama into negotiations with the Russians. Actually, the Russians and Syrians did Obama a favor. “He needed a climb-down, somehow,” said Solomon.

    Beware Obama’s Bay of Pigs Moment

    “One of the frightening aspects” of the crisis over Syria, said historian and activist Paul Street, “is that Obama has taken such a black eye, here, he’s been so humiliated, that it has upped the ante of his need to escalate.” Street warns that this could be Obama’s “Bay of Pigs moment,” as when President John Kennedy pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war in 1962 after the humiliating defeat of a CIA invasion of Cuba, the year before. “All of humanity hopes this guy can be restrained,” said Street, author of The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama and the Real World of Power.

    Affirmative Action Again Before High Court

    On October 15, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Michigan’s defense of Proposition 2, which bans affirmative action. “If we lose this case,” said Shanta Driver, the lead attorney for BAMN, By Any Means Necessary, “a white majority will have been able to end affirmative action programs in our state, permanently. That means the beginning of an era of the new Jim Crow.”

    Predatory Banks Prey on Public Sector

    Activists will gather in Detroit, October 5 and 6, for an International People’s Assembly Against Banks and Against Austerity. “We’re asking for a complete cancellation of the debt to the banks, which is strangling the schools, the cities and the states,” said Abayomi Azikiwe, media outreach coordinator for the conference and editor of the Pan-African News Wire. “Detroit was locked into predatory lending at the municipal financing level,” he said. “That’s why they’re claiming that Detroit owes $22 billion to these financial institutions.”

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    Diversity Survives (Barely), But Affirmative Action is Long Dead

    by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

    Diversity” has been given a tentative reprieve by the U.S. Supreme Court, but affirmative action died 35 years ago. “The journey from affirmative action to ‘diversity’ has largely negated African American history as a legal basis for redress. What’s left is the notion that it would really be nice if schools and workplaces looked like the country as a whole” – but you can’t make it happen.

    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of November 26, 2012

     

    Wal-Mart’s War on Workers

    Last week’s job actions at Wal-Mart facilities around the U.S. are largely a response to cuts imposed on employee hours. “Wal-Mart has been experiencing a squeeze at the sales level and, therefore, putting a squeeze on their employees,” said journalist Liza Featherstone, who has covered the world’s biggest corporation for more than a decade. “In recent years, they’ve made it much more difficult for workers to work full time.”

    Fiscal Cliff” is Phony

    It’s a purely manufactured crisis,” said Arun Gupta, co-founder of The Indypendent and The Occupied Wall Street Journal, referring to the so-called “fiscal cliff” of spending cuts and tax increases looming over the U.S. economy. “Both parties are committed to austerity policies,” he said. “The danger with Obama is that he will be able to force through cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare because there is no opposition on his left flank.”

    Mobilization in Defense of Affirmative Action

    Activists plan to mobilize “hundreds of thousands” of young people in support of a recent federal court decision that struck down a ban on affirmative action programs at Michigan public universities. “Black and Latino high school and middle school students will be leading the line of march,” said Monica Smith, a lawyer for Detroit-based BAMN, By Any Means Necessary. “This shows that when you fight, you can win.”

    U.S. Wages War on Congo

    The United States has protected, armed and financed countries complicit in the genocide that has killed at least six million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1996, said Kambale Musavuli, of Friends of Congo. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice “has blocked UN reports” of Rwanda and Uganda’s crimes in Congo, including support for the so-called rebels that captured the provincial capital of Goma, earlier this month. “She has to be doing so with the blessing of the White House,” said Musavuli.

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    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of November 19, 2012

     

    Big Win for Affirmative Action in Education

    Affirmative action advocates believe they have a chance to prevail at the U.S. Supreme Court, following an appeals panel ruling that struck down Michigan’s ban on affirmative action in college admissions. “We will immediately be asking the University of Michigan to reinstate” affirmative action programs, said George Washington, lead attorney for Detroit-based By Any Means Necessary. “There has been a one-third to 50 percent drop” in minority admissions since the ban took effect, he said.

    Stop-and Frisk Protesters Claim Partial Victory

    Four activists charged with serious offenses stemming from a protest at a Queens, New York City police precinct, last year, were acquitted of all but disorderly conduct charges. “We view the results of this trial as a victory, because they were going for convictions” that carry one-year jail sentences, said Stop Stop-and-Frisk organizer Carl Dix. Charges are still pending against nine others arrested in Queens, and another group of demonstrators in Brooklyn. “We are going to make these trials a part of this fight” against police abuse of power, said Dix.

    Obama Can’t Pass Buck on Extra-Judicial Killings of Blacks

    By the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement’s count, more than 140 African Americans have been murdered by police and others under cloak of authority since the start of 2012. President Obama is obligated to deploy the full powers of the federal government to compel law enforcement agencies to “respect the human rights of Black people,” said MXGM. “At the end of the day, they are all still held accountable by the Department of Justice, which, last time I checked, is under [the President’s] direct control,” said spokesman Kali Akuno. “We won’t let him pass the buck.”

    Whose Fiscal Cliff?

    The elevation of deficit reduction “to the be-all and end-all of policy discussion in Washington really is what’s driving some Democrats away” from their traditional defense of Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, said Chris Hellman, of the National Priorities Project. By endorsing the Simpson-Bowles proposals, President Obama has “made it clear that he is at least willing to discuss some changes in those programs.” Obama is more than willing to impose sever austerity, said Kevin Zeese, of Occupy Washington DC. “He’s going to be giving away the store,” said Zeese. “Every constituency that supported Obama is going to lose in this negotiation.”

    Wal-Mart Squeezes Workers

    We have to borrow money from each other just to make it to work,” said Colby Harris, a 3-year Wal-Mart employee from Dallas, Texas. Wal-Mart workers have staged strikes and other actions to protest low wages, poor healthcare benefits, management disrespect and – the latest insult – plans to keep stores open on Thanksgiving. Labor economist and former Bennett College president Julianne Malveaux said “it’s especially egregious when Wal-Mart, the largest and richest company in our country, engages in these activities.” Workers complain they are limited to less than 30-hour weeks, to deprive them of healthcare benefits. “This is an oppressive matrix,” said Malveaux.

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    Wages of White Affirmative Action: Predatory Lending & The Ghetto

     

    by Sikivu Hutchinson

    Whites are “returning” to South Central Los Angeles, the place they left for the suburbs in federally subsidized waves generations ago. The lure: cheap housing in neighborhoods savaged by color-coded lending policies. And so it is that whites whose exit from South Central was smoothed by racial advantage, return in the same way. White dislocation is called a tragedy, while the uprooting of Blacks is dubbed “gentrification.”

    Will Affirmative Action Disappear?

    by Dr. Julianne Malveaux

    Affirmative action’s final fate may soon be decided by a hostile U.S. Supreme Court, yet there are few signs of a major mobilization by those who still support diversity in education. The objective facts of disparity are stark: “While 29 percent of the US population over 25 has a college degree, the number for African Americans is 14 percent.”

    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey - Week of April 9, 2012

     

    Blacks Disappearing From California University Campuses

    Even at African American Studies classes at UC Berkeley, it is now rare that Black students are a majority of the class,” said Yvette Felarca, one of the protesters that briefly occupied the Registrar’s office. African American enrollment has dropped to 3 percent since passage of Proposition 2009, the referendum that outlawed affirmative action in state higher education in 1996. A federal appeals court recently upheld the ban. George Washington, a lawyer for Detroit-based By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), calls the law “a direct attack on the political rights of Black and Latino people. Every other citizen of the state of California can say they want a special admissions program” – except racial and ethnic minorities.

    Look at Dick and Jane. See Their Privileges

    Dick and Jane,” the old picture book primer, taught post-World War Two Americans that lily white suburban lives were the ones “that need to be protected from criminal Others like Trayvon Martin when they enter into gated communities,” said scholar and activist Sikivu Hutchinson. “This whole paradigm was really constructed upon the Othering of African Americans and other families of color.”

    Occupy the Justice Department

    The U.S. criminal justice system will be put on trial, on April 24, when demonstrators “Occupy” the U.S. Justice Department, in Washington. Benjamin Woods, of Students Against Mass Incarceration, hopes to put “prison abolition back on the table, as opposed to just prison ‘reform’ and ‘stop these brutalities.’” The Howard University doctoral candidate said the questions must be posed: “What is an alternative to prison? How can we transform society so that prisons are no longer necessary?”

    California Prisoners Take Torture Case to the UN

    Peter Schey, of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, has filed petitions asking the United Nations to intervene in California’s draconian prison solitary confinement practices. “The majority are placed in solitary confinement” – for years and even decades – “based on mere gang membership or association with gangs,” said Schey. His clients want the UN to issue a report stating that California’s policies “constitute torture in violation of international law.”

    The Rich, and Their Children, Get Richer

    The Senate should pass a bill that would restore taxes on inherited wealth to levels that would raise half a trillion dollars over the next ten years, said Tim Sullivan, of United for a Fair Economy, part of Americans for a Fair Estate Tax. “The concentrated wealth we are seeing right now is at epidemic proportions, the worst it has been since before the Great Depression, and the Estate Tax is near its weakest level since it was put into place 100 years ago,” said Sullivan.

    U.S. Hands Off Mali!

    The Tuareg rebellion that has cut the West African nation of Mali in two is the result of colonial boundaries and decisions that “left out a nomadic people without any kind of land base of their own,” said Anna Edwards, of Defenders of Freedom, Justice and Equality, in Richmond, Virginia. The “destabilization of Libya” by the U.S. and NATO left thousands of Malian Tuaregs jobless. Peace activists should demand that the U.S. not intervene in the conflict, said Ms. Edwards, who has visited Mali several times. “The bulk of U.S. aid to Mali is implemented through AFRICOM, and the desire to find a base on African soil.”

    Cholera Deaths Up in Haiti

    The return of the rainy season has brought an increase in deaths from cholera, which has killed 7,000 Haitians and sickened half a million since its introduction by MINUSTAH, the United Nations military occupation force. The UN has the responsibility to commit the resources to control the disease “because they brought it there, but they’re still denying it,” said Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington. “This is the rainy season, and once again they’re not prepared for it. I think they just don’t care enough.”

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    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of March 12, 2012

     

    Civil Rights Groups “Dropped the Ball” on Affirmative Action

    In their zeal to help the Democratic Party, mainline civil rights organizations have “dropped the ball” on affirmative action, said Donna Stern, of By Any Means Necessary. “They are very much responsible, in terms of their inactions, for the loss of rights that were gained during the civil rights movement. Their deep ties to the Democratic Party” means not talking about race, if they can avoid it,” said Stern. Detroit-based By Any Means Necessary mounted student demonstrations outside federal district court in Cincinnati, where lawyers argued that referendums on affirmative action be outlawed. “A white majority does not have the right to vote up or down whether minorities have equal rights,” said Stern.

    Obama: The Assassination President

    When the history books are written, Obama is going to be known as the assassinations president,” said Kevin Alexander Gray, the Columbia, South Carolina-based writer and political activist. “Everything that he has done in regards to the Constitution and transparency and protecting human rights and the due process rights of all people, regardless of nationality, has been a failure.” Attorney General Eric Holder’s narrow definition of “due process” of law is really “the due process of the star chamber. Traditional civil rights organizations have not moved to “checked” Obama because “they are all in the tank for the administration,” said Gray.

    Call to Support May 1 General Strike

    In an Open Letter to Occupy Wall Street and the movement’s supporters, OWS activist Dennis Trainor called a proposed May 1 general strike “one of the biggest opportunities to demonstrate our power, and that we have not gone away.” Organized labor cannot be expected to be central to the action, because “the right to strike, for unions, has been all but taken away.” Rather, the strike would mobilize student and community groups in targeted cities. Trainor’s latest documentary, “Which Side Are You On?” is scheduled for release at the end of April.

    Bring Me the Head of Ed DeMarco!

    President Obama must fire Federal Housing Finance Agency acting director Ed DeMarco because he “has flatly refused to do any kind of principal reduction for the millions of ‘underwater’ homeowners that are suffering, that are drowning in debt because of how the banks crashed the economy,” said Tracy Van Slyke, co-director of New Bottom Line. The coalition of faith-based and community organizations demand a “minimum of $300 billion in principal reduction.” Van Slyke claims New Bottom Line and other Occupy Wall Street-related efforts have “moved the administration far along from where they were. We have moved the dial.”

    Obama and Wall Street Money

    Scholar and activist Paul Street finds it curious that at study of 68 most influential Wall Street firms shows the fat cats giving Mitt Romney 12 times as much money as Obama. “The real test will come when Obama and Romney go up against each other,” said Street, author of The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama and the Real World of Power. He notes that Obama has held a record 191 fundraisers in the last year. “It would be pretty ironic” if Wall Street abandoned Obama, said Street, “because he has given them everything they wanted.”

    UNAC Conference March 23-25

    The United National Anti-War Coalition’s conference, in Stamford, Connecticut, “is THE antiwar conference and, perhaps, the main conference on the left, this year,” said UNAC spokesperson Joe Lombardo. The Obama administration plans new aggressions, at home and abroad, which is why they are narrowing the definition of “due process” of law. “What they’re really doing,” said Lombardo, “is preparing for increased military and economic attacks, and they don’t want to see an opposition and a protest movement built up.”

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    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of March 5, 2012

     

    Rally for Affirmative Action in Education

    We’ve got to rebuild a movement for affirmative action,” said George Washington, an attorney for United for Equality and Affirmative Action Legal Defense Fund. “The established civil rights movement has just let the ball drop. A new form of separate and unequal is being erected right before our eyes,” as universities become whiter and, in some cases, more Asian. Atty. Washington and his team appear in federal court on March 7, to argue against allowing voter referendums to ban affirmative action.

    Charter School Profiteers

    School privatizers “are looking at a $500 billion education industry” and looking to make “fantastic profits,” said lawyer and education writer Danny Weil. Charter schools are the “perfect Trojan Horse” for the Right.

    High Stakes Testing Causes Cheating

    The administration thinks it can improve the quality of education for all “simply by raising the bar and yelling, ‘Jump higher’ and promising punishment for those who don’t get over the high bar,” said Bob Schaeffer, of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing. Educators are “pressured to cheat, in order to get the test scores that are all that matter in the educational system, today.”

    Workers Saved the Auto Industry

    It’s wrong to claim, as Republicans do, that union autoworkers were “bailed out” by the federal government, said Al Benchich, a former United Auto Workers Union local president. “The auto industry got loans, the banks received the bailout,” while new employees now make only $14 an hour, said Benchich. “GM just posted their largest profit in history, which is indicative of what has been given up” by workers.

    Robin Hood Tax Needed

    The National Nurses United (NNU) union is “challenging austerity, worldwide,” with demands for a small tax on every financial distraction.” NNU president Deborah Burger said the so-called “Robin Hood tax” cold raise $350 billion per year, to be spent on “creating jobs, investing in education, health care and housing.” Great Britain already has such a tax, said Burger, Germany and France are considering one.

    Human Rights D-Graded in DC

    The local Washington, DC government earned only Ds in the subjects of public education, criminal law enforcement, and racial and gender discrimination, according to a report card compiled by the DC Human Rights People’s Movement. Report card co-editor David Schwartzman said the federal government rated an “F” for failing to give statehood to DC.

    White House Wants More Money for Cops and Prisons

    Despite historical declines in crime, the Obama administration’s budget calls for more than $27 billion for more prisons and police. “Let’s back off the prisons, let’s back off the police, and put the money into long term jobs that actually benefit people,” said Amanda Petteruti, of the Justice Policy Institute.

    Lynn Stewart’s Appeal

    Attorneys for movement lawyer Lynn Stewart asked a federal panel of judges to roll back her 10-year prison sentence on charges of assisting terrorists. Said her husband and comrade, Ralph Poynter: “When Lynn tries to ‘defeat the law’ on behalf of her clients – the poor or people the government doesn’t like – then she becomes the bad girl.” Stewart supporters hope for “time served, or bail pending appeal.”

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