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Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 4/9/14

Cornel West: Integrity is Key to Liberation

“They are closing our schools, they’re foreclosing our homes, closing our libraries, closing the factories, closing the post office,” said Larry Hamm, president of the Newark-based People’s Organization for Progress. “They continue to do it, because they have not yet met the countervailing force that can stop them from doing,” he told the Bethany Baptist Church crowd. Hamm then directed the question to the evening’s speaker, noted public intellectual Dr. Cornel West, of New York’s Union Theological Seminary. “How do we build this countervailing force?”

Organizing for liberation requires “three things,” said Dr. West. “Your vision, and the courage behind your vision. Your analysis; Do you really understand what you’re up against? And then, the organizing and mobilizing that has to take place.” Integrity is key. “When you confront a system that either buys off your leaders, lies on your leaders, or kills them, the freest persons are always those who have an absolute commitment to integrity and decency, and are willing to go under.”

Pressure Mounts on Temple University in Monteiro Firing

Students and community organizations plan a series of actions to protest Temple University’s firing of African American Studies professor Dr. Anthony Monteiro. A student walkout is set for this Wednesday and, next week, Philadelphia community groups will march on the campus seeking justice for Monteiro, a fair contract for university employees, and against gentrification of the Black neighborhoods that surround Temple. People recognize that “injustice to the community has gone hand in hand with this injustice to me,” said Monteiro. African American Studies chairman Dr. Molefi Asante has resorted to red-baiting to defend his complicity in Monteiro’s firing. Asante argues “that I am a radical, that I’m a Marxist, that I’m a socialist and, therefore, I don’t fit into his view of African American Studies at Temple,” said Monteiro.

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Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 1/13/14

The Friends and Foes of Amiri Baraka

Larry Hamm, chairman of the Newark, New Jersey-based People’s Organization for Progress, wants there to be no mistake: His friend and mentor Amiri Baraka, the activist/poet/public intellectual who died last week at age 79, “was a revolutionary. In the days ahead, until he’s buried, everybody is going to look back upon him with fond remembrances. But, for some of those people, if Amiri Baraka was coming down the street, they would cross to the other side.” Baraka’s funeral will be held on Saturday, in Newark.

War on Poverty was Underfunded and Restrained

From the very beginning of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, launched 50 years ago, “there was a push to keep the lid on new spending on anti-poverty programs – and that only got worse with the funneling of money to Vietnam,” said Alice O’Connor, professor of history at the University of California at Santa Barbara and author of Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy and the Poor in Twentieth Century U.S. History. Although newly created federal agencies were mandated to give the poor a voice in anti-poverty efforts, “there was pressure from the localities to keep that money out of the hands of groups that were going to challenge the status quo,” said O’Connor.

From Many Struggles, One

Progressive forces can achieve victory by building a “movement of movements,” said Margaret Flowers, co-author with Kevin Zeese of the article “Task of a People-Powered Movement for 2014.” Flowers and Zeese, directors of It’s Our Economy, have identified ten “fronts of struggle,” ranging from health care to jobs to peace. “Our task is to help connect these individual struggles to the broader struggle,” said Flowers.

Worthless Democrats

President Obama’s recent promises about combating economic inequality are meaningless rhetoric,” said Doug Henwood, editor of the Left Business Observer. “The problem is, the Democrats are now so thoroughly a Wall Street party, that they can’t do anything serious” to help poor and working people. “I expect nothing out of the Democratic Party, nationally or locally.” Real social progress will require grassroots mobilization, said Henwood.

The Washington Post as a CIA Asset

RootsAction.Org co-founder Norman Solomon will this week present a petition to editors of the Washington Post, demanding the newspaper inform its readers of owner Jeff Bezos’ intimate business relationship with the CIA. Bezos is also the billionaire owner of Amazon, which last year concluded a $600 million contract with the CIA. “The responsibility of the CIA is to keep secrets, and the responsibility of journalism is to expose secrets,” said Solomon. Post journalists should be worried that it become commonly known as “being in bed with the CIA.”

Tutu Wrong About ICC, Says Herman

Edward Herman, professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, takes issue with former South African archbishop Desmond Tutu’s contention that the International Criminal Court is a force for justice in Africa. The ICC only indicts Africans, and only those Africans that are not allied with the United States, said Herman, co-author of The Politics of Genocide. “The bias has been blatant.” U.S. allies Uganda and Rwanda invaded the Democratic Republic of Congo and “killed literally millions of people,” with no response from the ICC, said Herman.

Mumia: Support the Dallas Five

On January 21, trial begins for five Pennsylvania inmates charged with riot and incitement stemming from a 2010 protest against violence by guards at a prison in the town of Dallas. The Dallas Five “are fighting for their lives,” said political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, reporting for Prison Radio.

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Listen to Black Agenda Radio... Our Program For December 31, 2013

Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 12/30/13

Racial Hatred in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic’s efforts to deny citizenship to hundreds of thousands of residents of Haitian descent is rooted in the racism of an “elite that has never wanted to have anything to do with Black people,” said Dr. Jemima Pierre, a professor of African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University. “They’re trying to establish rules that will also effectively get rid of dark-skinned people who don’t have Haitian ancestry. What about the poor Dominican woman who doesn’t have any papers and can’t prove she isn’t Haitian?” asked Pierre, who is also an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report.

The Uncounted Homeless

The Obama administration’s claim that homelessness declined last year is based on “incomplete” data, said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. The government’s methodology mainly counts “who is in a shelter, which really just measures the capacity of shelters – and we know that shelters turn people away every night,” while failing to adequately measure the number of people those who are living on the street or have crowded into unsustainable quarters with friends and relatives, said Foscarinis.

Nationalize the Banks

In the face of unremitting criminality by the biggest American banks, “any reasonable person would say that leaving banking in the hands of these banksters is unwise public policy, and terribly costly for everyone else,” said Dr. Richard Wolff, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Big Finance must be nationalized, not just broken up into smaller pieces – as would be obvious to most Americans “if we weren’t drowning in a fog of ideology,” said Wolff.

U.S. Spreads Chaos in World

“The one thing that’s become clearer than at any time in the past is that U.S. intervention creates spreading destabilization and chaos,” said Sara Flounders, of the United National Anti-War Coalition. “It’s designed to do that. We can see the immediate results in South Sudan, a country that came into existence under U.S. protection in order to put this oil-rich region directly under the control of U.S. and U.S.-led forces,” said Flounders. “A quarter of all the oil that is consumed in the U.S. comes from Africa. Washington has no interest at all in democracy, development and freedom” – only in power and profits.

Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN.

Length: One hour.

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Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 12/16/13

Newark Rallies for Mandela

“We marched because we wanted to highlight the revolutionary dimension of his personality, rather than an anemic and eviscerated Mandela,” said Larry Hamm, chairman of POP, the People’s Organization for Progress, following a demonstration in downtown Newark, New Jersey, last week, in honor of the deceased South African leader. “Believe it or not,” said Hamm, “there are still people who don’t know about Mandela.” Founded in 1983, POP’s first buttons demanded “Free Nelson Mandela!”

America’s Mostly War Budget

Peace and social justice activists gathered on Capitol Hill to mark International Human Rights Day and demand that Congress reject a budget that allocates more than 50 percent of resources to war-making. David Swanson, publisher of the influential website WarIsACrime.Org, noted that some lawmakers were away in South Africa. “You can’t celebrate nonviolence and then come back and dump over 50 percent of your money into so-called ‘defense,’” said Swanson. “It’s offensive, in every sense of the word.”

De Blasio Picks Giuliani “Retread” for Top Cop

According to Stop Stop-and-Frisk activist Carl Dix, New York City mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s choice of William Bratton as his police commissioner is designed to send a message: “Guess what? There will still be two cities, and the city that I represent, the city of the power brokers, of the elite, of the capitalist class, will continue to clamp down on the rest of you.” Bratton deployed the much-feared street crime units under law and order mayor Rudy Giuliani in the mid-Nineties.

Slavery + Genocide + Vast Theft = Capitalist Genesis

“The capitalist state was an imperialist state from its inception,” said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party, at the party’s 6th Congress in St. Petersburg, Florida. The wealth necessary to launch capitalism was accumulated through slavery, extermination and land theft. “Our material condition has its origin in the attack on Africa,” said Yeshitela.

Obama Mouth Runs Amok with Double-Talk

Rhetorically speaking, President Obama has once again positioned himself as a “populist,” declaring that income inequality is “the defining challenge of our time.” “Obama is quite practiced in double-talk,” said Paul Street, historian and author of The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama and the Real World of Power. “As if he hasn’t been attacking Social Security and Medicare; as if he hasn’t pushed deficit reduction, in some ways, even more dramatically than the Republicans have.”

Lynne Stewart “Home for the Holidays” Campaign

Federal prison officials pretend that people’s lawyer and political prisoner Lynne Stewart, who suffers from Stage Four breast cancer, “is getting better, but she is not,” said her husband and fellow activist Ralph Poynter. Supporters should sign a petition asking the Bureau of Prisons, President Obama and Attorney General Holder to grant Stewart compassionate release from prison in time for the holidays. The administration is “stalling and stonewalling, and the clock is running out,” said Poynter.

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Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 12/2/13

LA Schools Overrun by Cops

The Los Angeles Unified School District is among the most heavily policed in the nation, with Black students 29 times more likely than white students to be charged with disturbing the peace. “Are they trying to set students up for success and education, or are they trying to set them up to go to prison?” asked Ashley Franklin, an organizer with the Labor Community Strategy Center and one of the authors of a report titled “Black, Brown and Over-Policed in LA Schools.” Despite the heavy hand of the law, students have organized throughout the district. “Our youth have read their history and they’re fighting back,” said Franklin.

Charter Schools Increase Segregation

Studies show the spread of charter schools exacerbates economic and racial segregation, said Stan Karp, of New Jersey’s Education Law Center. “Systematically, if you look at the demographics of the charter experiment, this is where you’re finding the increase in segregation, higher attrition rates, and the different populations that are being served,” said Karp, author of the recent Rethinking Schools article “How Charter Schools are Undermining Public Education.” The privatizers are deceiving inner city parents. “Investors and business interests have been able to attach their agenda for market reform in education to the urgent needs of communities that have not been well served by the existing system.”

African People’s Socialist Party Holds 6th Congress

The struggles – and defeats – of the Sixties must be put in context in order to chart a course towards liberation in the future, said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party, which holds its 6th Congress in St. Petersburg, Florida, December 7 – 11. “We had a movement that was crushed” by state repression and assassinations, and “we’re seeing the consequences of that defeat” in the corrupt Black leadership that has emerged over the past 40-plus years. “Occasional spontaneous outbreaks” of protest after incidents like the Trayvon Martin killing cannot “substitute for real revolutionary work,” said Yeshitela.

Mumia: Where is Justice for the Living?

Mumia Abu Jamal, the nation’s best known political prisoner, who is serving a life term in the 1981 death of a Philadelphia policeman, noted that the State of Alabama recently granted posthumous pardons to the 9 Scottsboro Boys, convicted in a 1931 “rape that never happened.” Meanwhile, the four Black women and five men of the Move 9 are in the 35th year of prison sentences in the death of a Philadelphia policeman. “In 2058, will a future governor declare them pardoned, and grant them symbolic justice?” asked Abu Jamal, with deep sarcasm. “Justice delayed is still justice denied.”

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Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 10/28/13

Bankers and State Owe Detroit

Instead of figuring out ways to strip Detroit of its assets to pay banks, the courts should force bankers and the state to repay the city hundreds of millions owed. “Some of the main creditors have been bogus, complicated interest rate swaps by banks who overcharged hundreds of millions of dollars of interest,” said community activist Debra Taylor. “If anything, that needs to be renegotiated.” Taylor said the city was also denied $224 million in revenue sharing funds when the state arbitrarily changed the payment formula.

Obama Schemes to Cut Social Security

President Obama has “enabled” the assault on Social Security and other entitlement programs since his first days in office, said independent journalist Arun Gupta, a co-founder of the Occupied Wall Street Journal. The president has long sought an austerity “Grand Bargain” with Republicans, but has been stymied by GOP reluctance to cut a deal. “The U.S. has become so dysfunctional, in terms of its political system,” said Gupta, “it seems the most you can hope for is gridlock.”

Who Stopped Stop-and-Frisk?

Opposition to stop-and-frisk is now all but mandatory among New York City Democrats. But, that wasn’t the case two years ago, when Carl Dix and others began a civil disobedience campaign under the Stop Stop-and-Frisk banner. “Things like stop-and-frisk were not front-burner issues” back then, said Dix. “The question of torture in prison was something hardly anyone knew anything about. We thought that waging a mass resistance movement was a key way to bring these issue front and center.”

Hi-Tech Corporations Behind National Surveillance State

A new study shows the high-tech industrial sector uses its campaign contributions to bolster congressional and White House support for the national surveillance state. “It’s really a giant interest-group issue,” said Dr. Thomas Ferguson, professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, at Boston, and an author of the report. “These are industries that we’d already identified as uniquely friendly to Obama,” based on campaign contributions.

U.S. Facilitates Congo Genocide

Six million Congolese have died since neighboring Rwanda and Uganda invaded the country in 1996, said Maurice Carney, director of Friends of Congo. Speaking at the 7th anniversary celebration of Black Agenda Report, at New York City’s historic Riverside Church, Carney said “these crimes could not be committed without the backing of the United States and the protection of its allies, Uganda and Rwanda.” How could Washington call for military action in Syria and Libya, where thousands were at risk, Carney asked, “when you’re not even willing to take diplomatic action in Congo, where we’re talking about millions?” It all depends on whether “one values Black life, or not.”

Organize!” says Danny Glover

Actor and political activist Danny Glover called for a “reinvigoration of the idea of democracy.” Speaking at a fundraiser for Benton Harbor, Michigan’s Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO), the TransAfrica Forum chairman said: “It is important that people are active in the process. We need to organize!”

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Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 9/23/13

Lynne Stewart Imprisonment Meant to “Chill” Defense Lawyers

New Justice Department guidelines on compassionate release from prison should, by all rights, apply to people’s lawyer Lynne Stewart, serving a 10-year sentence for zealously defending her client, said David Gespass, former president of the National Lawyers Guild. Stewart suffers from Stage 4 breast cancer. “The only possible reason not to release her would be just pure vindictiveness,” said Gespass, an attorney practicing in Birmingham, Alabama. “I think her prosecution was a warning to defense lawyers that they should not do their jobs as vigorously as they are required constitutionally to do, particularly in cases involving allegations of so-called terrorism.”

October 22 Day of Protest Against Police Atrocities

The Stop Mass Incarceration Network will hold the 18th annual National Day of Protest to stop police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation, said Carl Dix, a co-founder of the event. “If anything, it is even more relevant, today.” The acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin killing “takes us back 150 years and more, to the Dred Scott Decision, when Black people were ruled to have no rights that white people are bound to respect,” said Dix.

October 24 is “Workers Demand a Raise Day”

The Baltimore Workers Assembly will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the federal minimum wage with demands that today’s minimum be raised to $15 an hour. “If wages had kept up with the cost of living since the first minimum wage was enacted, it would now be $15.23,” said organizer Karen Black. President Obama and other politicians have not been helpful in increasing workers’ paychecks. “That’s in part why we formed a workers assembly that can get a movement going to force these issues,” said Black.

Obamacare Would Still Leave U.S. Last in Developed World

Forty-eight million Americans are still without health insurance, and 48,000 of them die every year due to inadequate care, said Dr. David Himmelstein, of Physicians for a National Health Plan. “Billions and billions are drained out of the health care system by greedy insurance companies whose interest is in denying people care,” said Himmelstein, whose organization favors a Medicaid-for-All system. “Even if Obamacare works as planned, we’re still going to have 31 million people who won’t have coverage,” which means the U.S. health care system will remain “the worst in the developed world.”

The Incredibly Shrinking Welfare State

The remnants of the federal welfare program, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, “needs to be made more accessible,” said Timothy Casey, senior attorney for Legal Momentum. “Right now, two out of three families and children who are eligible don’t get any benefits.” Moreover, “benefits in every state are far below the official poverty level – typically less than half,” said Casey. Legal Momentum was formerly known as the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund.

U.S. Protects Purveyors of Genocide in Congo

Washington refuses to bring real pressures on Rwanda to halt its 17-year war and occupation of the eastern Congo, the “deadliest conflict in the world since World War Two, in which millions of Congolese have lost their lives,” said Maurice Carney, executive director of Friends of Congo. “When you compare it to the way the U.S. has acted against Zimbabwe, or the way it’s been beating the war drums against Syria, the U.S. hasn’t brought substantial weight, whatsoever,” against its ally, Rwanda, said Carney.

Kenyans Say No to International Criminal Court

Both houses of Kenya’s parliament voted to sever ties with the International Criminal Court, which had previously indicted Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, the current president and deputy president of the country. “They had and election, and one of the major aspects of the campaign was, We can handle our problems ourselves and we don’t need the ICC,” said John Philpot, a Canadian attorney and expert on international criminal law who has defended clients before the ICC. Parliament’s action “was a good step,” said Philpot, “because the ICC is the right hand of military/political intervention” and only prosecutes Africans.

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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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Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 9/09/13

Syria is Opportunity to Build a Real Peace Movement

“They’ve handed this to us on a silver platter: an announced war,” said David Swanson, veteran peace activist and publisher of the influential web site WarIsACrime.org. “This is an opportunity to build an anti-war movement.” However, so-called “progressives” on Capitol Hill have proven to be of little use. “For the most part, the Progressive Caucus has reached a new low,” said Swanson. “Now they’re split, half pro-war and half anti-war. You’re not seeing leadership from the usual congresspeople. You see incredible deference to the president.”

Obama is Going Down

“England and Germany and other forces that have usually been reliable partners in crime have tried to distance themselves from this criminal war” that Obama plans against Syria, said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition. The president’s domestic situation is also perilous. “It is difficult for many of the Negroes who have been in bed with Obama to continue this elicit affair. Obama stands the chance of going down in history as a war criminal.”

Deceitful War, American-Style

The U.S. routinely tells bald-faced lies to justify its military aggressions, said John Quigley, professor emeritus of international law at Ohio State University. Quigley, author of Ruses for War: American Intervention Since World War Two, cites phony U.S. pretexts for war in the Dominican Republic (1965), Grenada (1983), Sudan (1998), and Iraq (1993), not to mention the patently false basis for the Iraq invasion of 2003. Is the U.S. a rogue state? “In the sense of taking action that has no basis in international law, then I suppose” it is, said Prof. Quigley.

Lynne Stewart Critiques the “So-Called Left”

People’s lawyer Lynne Stewart, who is suffering from Stage Four breast cancer, will probably not benefit from Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent revisions of Bureau of Prisons regulations on compassionate release, since she is charged with terrorism, said Ralph Poynter, Stewart’s husband and comrade in struggle. Stewart “is very angry with what is happening in the so-called Left, who have neglected the struggle in the rest of the world,” said Poynter. “If we can’t get our minds around freeing our political prisoners, maybe all of our time has come.”

Misleadership Class in Deep Conflict with Black Masses

“I don’t believe there has ever been this wide and extensive a split between the Black elite and bourgeoisie, who are aligned through Obama to finance capital and American empire, and the broad masses” of African Americans, said Dr. Anthony Monteiro, professor of African American Studies at Philadelphia’s Temple University. Monteiro estimates the March on Washington commemoration, organized by traditional Black organizations in deep collaboration with the White House, drew only about 25,000 people. “The elite, the so-called leadership, is in trouble with the great masses of Black people.”

California Prisoners Suspend Hunger Strike

After nine weeks, inmates called a halt to the third hunger strike since 2011, without having forced California officials to accede to any of their major demands, most notably an end to the “torture” of long term solitary confinement. However, the struggle continues, according to Keith James, of the Stop Mass Incarceration Movement. “They are waging a protracted battle,” said James. “We really have to have these prisoners’ backs, because this torture is continuing." At its height, 30,000 inmates were involved in the protest.

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Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 8/28/13

NSA Could Ensnare Anyone in National Security Trap

“Every single person in this country owes Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning a debt of gratitude,” said Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, renowned whistleblower and a founder of the No FEAR Coalition. The NSA program that tracks human networks endangers all Americans, said Coleman-Adebayo, “because everyone is only a person or two or three or four away from being implicated in some scheme that the National Security State comes up with.” She called Bradley Manning’s 35-year prison sentence for exposing government secrets an example of growing “tyranny.”

Ray Kelly’s Rise Halted By Stop-and-Frisk Ruling

It is highly unlikely that New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly will be appointed head of Homeland Security, said Robert Gangi, of the Police Reform Organizing Project of the Urban Justice Center. A federal court found that the city’s stop-and-frisk practices routinely violate the constitutional rights of Blacks and Latinos. “There is now a big black eye on the face of New York City policing,” said Gangi. “Ray Kelly is no longer the iconic law enforcement figure he was a short two years ago.”

Black Is Back Coalition Magnifies Grassroots Forces

The betrayals and predations of the Black Misleadership Class can be overcome by out-organizing them. “Our objective is to replace that misleadership, not just to complain about it,” said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. Black is Back seeks to “provide the ability for all of these” grassroots organizations “to come together and to magnify their presence many times over,” said Yeshitela. The coalition recently held its national conference in Harlem.

Cornel West on Obama and the New Jim Crow

The Obama administration seems to believe it is immune from effective Black criticism. “It’s sad to see us pimped like that,” said Dr. Cornel West, the activist and academic currently based at Union Theological Seminary, in New York. “All of our suffering is rendered invisible because they know we will be highly protective of them.” The administration has “that kind of power, that kind of bully pulpit, but they can’t say a mumbling word about the New Jim Crow – and they’ve been in office for five years. That’s disgusting!” Dr. West spoke on the latest edition of Black Agenda TV.

Nursing Students Charge Fraud in Philadelphia

Six Black women, who call themselves the Liberation of Students Rights Group of Philadelphia, charge the now defunct St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing cheated them out of $22,000 each and a year of their lives. Sabrina Whitaker said she and her fellow students, all college graduates at the time, had heard that the school had a Black dean, and “wanted to work in an area that was African American.” But the school turned out to be unaccredited. “We had to share gloves, we had to share needles when learning how to do IVs,” said Whitaker. The women hope to prevail in court, to prove that “if you keep fighting, keep striving for what you believe in, your dream too can come true.”

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Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 8/12/13

Lynne Stewart’s Husband Asks: Where are the Unions and Clergy?

Claiming the law gave him no choice, a federal judge rejected people’s lawyer Lynn Stewart’s request for compassionate release from a ten-year prison sentence. Judge John Koeltl said he would have given “prompt and sympathetic consideration” to such a request if it had come from the federal Bureau of Prisons, which maintains that Stewart’s health is “improving” despite the ravages of Stage Four breast cancer. Pressure must now be brought directly on President Obama, who “seems to enjoy doing the work of this oppressive corporate juggernaut,” said Ralph Poynter, Stewart’s husband and comrade in struggle. Poynter noted that “the unions have not participated as a group in the support for Lynne Stewart, Bradley Manning, Snowden, or any others on the issues of freedom of speech. The ministers have also not participated in this struggle.”

Dream Defenders Fight Criminal Justice Racism

Stand Your Ground laws are only part of the agenda of the young people occupying state government offices in Florida’s capital. Dream Defenders political director Ciara Taylor said their focus also includes “the school-to-prison pipeline that takes children out of school and puts them into jail cells,” and “racial profiling practices. We want to disassemble all three of these practices in Florida.” Ms. Taylor said “Trayvon Martin would not even have been in Sanford, Florida, at that time, had it not been for a school suspension that he received on the basis of a zero tolerance policy.”

Zimbabwe Shows the Way for Africa

President Mugabe’s landslide victory in Zimbabwe’s recent elections was not only “a plebiscite on land reform, it’s a barometer reading of what Africa is really thinking,” said political analyst Eric Draitser, founder of StopImperialism.com. Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party “have stressed that political independence is meaningless without economic independence,” said Draitser.

Gold Rush Would Further Devastate Haiti’s Ecology

The U.S.-backed Haitian government is fashioning new laws to attract foreign mining corporations to exploit the country’s gold deposits. President Michel “Sweet Mickey” Martelly’s group “is, essentially, a kind of mafia, and they are joining hands with this international mafia of gold companies that are going around the world raping countries,” said Kim Ives, an editor of Haiti Liberte, the news and analysis weekly. “The people are very worried that words like ‘protecting national interest and sovereignty’ are a cover for just the opposite,” said Ives. Gold mining, which uses vast amounts of cyanide, has caused “an ecological disaster” in the neighboring Dominican Republic.

Why Not a Prisoner Exchange for the Cuban Five?

Every 5th of the month, supporters of the Cuban Five designate someone to write a letter to the U.S. president. Jane Franklin, author of Cuba and the U.S.: A Chronological History, did the honors this month. Asked about the prospects of a prisoner exchange between the U.S. and Cuba, Franklin replied: “Cuba has asked over and over again to sit down and discuss anything at all with representatives of the United States, but the U.S. has shown no interest in discussing the release of the Cuban Five.” The Cuban intelligence agents were imprisoned 15 years ago after revealing terrorist plots by Cuban exiles in South Florida.

New Black Activist/Scholar Think Tank

The Pan African Collective for Advocacy and Action makes its debut, this week, at a press conference in Washington, DC. “We’re sick and tired of these white organizations looking at issues within the Black community as if we’re some kind of terrarium or aquarium or incubator,” said Solomon Commisiong, one of the founders. The Collective “will do ‘white papers’” and such, but will not operate “solely as a think tank. It’s an organization of activists, scholars, and organizers whose aim is to go into our communities and work with grassroots organizations to try to deconstruct systemic issues that plague our communities.”

POP Chairman Reports on Mumia Meeting

Larry Hamm, chairman of the Newark, New Jersey-based People’s Organization for Progress, said his recent meeting with Mumia Abu Jamal was “a benchmark experience in my life that I will never forget.” The nation’s best-known political prisoner “has done more to bring about political consciousness than many of us who have our so-called freedom on this side of the prison walls,” said Hamm. During the two-hour visit, according to Hamm, Mumia said “President Obama has been able to enact policies that George Bush could not have gotten away with.” The first Black president’s election “has helped to demobilize people and blunt resistance that we might otherwise see in this country.”

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Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 8/05/13

Obama Losing Black Appeal

The 50th anniversary commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington, set for later this month, is “going to be a form of apologizing for Obama, but I predict that not many people are going to come, because Black people’s trust in Obama and his apologists is at an all time low,” said Dr. Anthony Monteiro, professor of African American Studies at Temple University. President Obama “is probably less popular than Bill Clinton was at this point in his presidency among African Americans,” especially due to his handling of the Trayvon Martin killing. “His meditation on the Zimmerman verdict,” said Monteiro, “did very little, if anything, to calm the sense of disenchantment of the African American people with this presidency.”

First Fatality in California Hunger Strike

Prison authorities refuse to acknowledge that a hunger striker found dead in his solitary confinement cell is a fatality of the month-long protest, insisting the death was a suicide. “What the authorities are saying is that, as far as they are concerned, people can die and they will not back off of the torture they are inflicting on people,” said Carl Dix, of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. News from inside the prisons has been extremely difficult to obtain. “They took 14 of the leaders, who were already on long term solitary confinement, and put them under further restrictions to try to cut off the link to their outside supporters,” said Dix.

Prosecution Obstructs Lynne Stewart Compassionate Release

The judge that sentenced people’s lawyer Lynne Stewart to ten years in prison will rule this week on her request for compassionate release. Stewart is suffering from Stage Four breast cancer. Federal prison officials turned down her request, asserting that Stewart’s health is “improving,” but refused to turn her latest medical records over to the judge. “This is obstruction,” said Ralph Poynter, Stewart’s husband and lifelong comrade. “It’s not a Catch-22, it’s in your face: now we’re going to kill you.” A rally is scheduled August 8 to demand Stewart’s release, in Manhattan’s Foley Square.

Democracy Convention in Madison

Nine conferences on democracy will convene under one tent, August 7 to 11, in Madison, Wisconsin. With focuses on democracy in and economics, race, constitutional reform, media, education, the environment and more, the Democracy Convention is expected to draw hundreds of activists from around the country. “We’re fired-up people who believe that we can have a much better democracy than we have now, but we have to work for it,” said Leah Bolger, president of Veterans for Peace. “This is an opportunity for action and activism.”

Buju Banton Presses for New Trial

Lawyers for Jamaican reggae superstar Buju Banton say misconduct by a juror in his 2011 cocaine trafficking conviction should lead to a new trial. The juror was accused of doing trial “research” on her home computer, which is forbidden, and then switching computers when the judge ordered her to present the machine for inspection. “What has happened is representative of what this criminal just system does to millions of African Americans,” said Aula Sumbry, of the Buju Banton Defense Support Committee. Except that, in this case, “they have picked on someone who is an international cultural icon and has the wherewithal to fight back.”

Imperialism is Losing,” Says Black Is Back Coalition Chairman

U.S. imperialism is losing its grip on global hegemony, said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition. “That’s why it was necessary for them to invent Barack Hussein Obama to seduce the people into submission.” The veteran activist spoke at a rally of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, in Harlem, New York. The Obama administration, by characterizing Assata Shakur as the nation’s number one terrorist, is attempting “to delegitimize the whole struggle of Black people, historically,” said Yeshitela. St. Mary’s Church is also the site of the Black Is Back Coalition national conference, August 17 and 18.

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Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 7/29/13

Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 7/29/13

 

Trayvon Protests Should Lead to Movement Against Racial Surveillance

If there is to be a mass movement against racial profiling, “we’ve got to talk about the War on Drugs and decriminalization and legalization; we’ve got to talk about the surveillance state, where the government at the local and the national level profiles you every day of your life,” said South Carolina activist and author Kevin Alexander Gray. “We’ve got to talk about the idea that the only people that are being required to show something to prove that they are not guilty of something are people of color in this country – and we’ve got to figure out a way to fight back.” Gray is author of The Fundamentals of Black Politics.

Obama Approval Rating Drops Among Blacks

A recent NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll shows Black approval of President Obama dipped to 78 percent following George Zimmerman’s murder acquittal. “It’s a perceptual shift, a big-time shift in how Black people are perceiving Obama when it comes to being responsive to the needs of our community,” said Dr. Johnny Williams, professor of sociology at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut. The president’s high praise for New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly, who runs the nation’s biggest stop-and-frisk operation, as a potential new chief of Homeland Security “speaks to where Obama is, morally,” said Williams. “How are you going to put somebody who, basically, does the same thing that George Zimmerman did to Trayvon Martin, in charge of Homeland Security?”

White Reaction to Zimmerman Verdict Disturbing

An ABC News-Washington Post poll showing two-thirds of whites think Trayvon Martin’s killing was justifiable, is a measure of the “separateness in perspective that reflects very real, savage, and profound, literal segregation” of the races in America, said historian and activist Paul Street. “That’s a lot more than just the segment of the white population that’s Republican or Tea Party,” said Street, author of The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama and the Real World of Power. “There’s a lot of Democrats in there, and that probably includes a whole bunch of ‘liberals.’ This isn’t just about cracker whites in the South.”

NSA Vote Shows Hope in Face of Fascist Trends

The narrow defeat of a U.S. House bill to halt wholesale NSA spying on Americans’ telephone calls was “a tactical loss but a strategic victory” for the rule of law, said Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. He warned of the rise of “fascist principles” in the U.S., including “collusion between the corporate private sector and the government sector to abuse fundamental rights,” and “xenophobia and militarism…vilifying the Other, within our country, justifying international belligerence towards other countries.”

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Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 7/22/13

Blacks Preyed Upon by For-Profit Colleges

Education corporations like Phoenix University have entrapped record numbers of African Americans in high debt and poor quality college course with no jobs at the end of the process, said journalist Kai Wright, author of an article titled “Young, Black and Buried in Debt: How For-Profit Colleges Prey on African American Ambitions.” Black college enrollment increased 35 percent between 2003 and 2009, twice the rate of white increase, according to Wright. However, most of the increase was in pursuit of “subprime degrees” from for-profit schools “that play on people’s ambitions and trick them into a terrible deal, because they’re desperate.”

Preventive Detention a Counter to Social Unrest

A federal appeals court last week upheld preventive military detention of U.S. citizens without charges or trial, ruling that the plaintiffs could not prove they were actually in danger of being detained. “It would be extremely simple for the executive and the legislative branch” to exempt U.S. citizens from the provisions, said former New York Times foreign correspondent Chris Hedges, one of the plaintiffs. “But they won’t do that, because they consciously want, in the event of social unrest, the capacity to use the military to carry out domestic policing.”

Cornel West: Zimmerman Verdict Reveals Nature of System

The “legal lynching” of Trayvon Martin “allows us to see what is systemic and what is chronic throughout the criminal justice system and its connection to the larger capitalist society,” said activist and academic Dr. Cornel West, of Union Theological Seminary. “We have to make the connection between the killing of our innocent brother Trayvon and the killing of innocent children by U.S. drones in Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia.

California Hunger Strike is “Call of Desperation”

Ever Florez, a former inmate on solitary confinement in California’s notorious Pelican Bay prison, said the current hunger strike is more widespread than previous actions because prisoners are more desperate. “People get tired,” said Florez, a member of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. “You live in a little cell for an enormous amount of years, and it makes you sick in your mind. If you feel that you’re on the brink of going insane, you have to make a call. It’s a call of desperation.”

Vigil at White House for Lynne Stewart

Ralph Poynter, husband and comrade of people’s lawyer Lynne Stewart, resumed his daily vigil outside the White House, demanding her compassionate release from prison. “They turned a cold ear to us and said, ‘See us in six months,’” said Poynter. “Psychologically, Lynne is fantastic,” he said. “Physically, she is dying a little each day.” Stewart is suffering from Stage Four breast cancer. Her lawyers are seeking a hearing with the judge that sentenced her to prison for ten years for zealously defending her client in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Why the U.S. Arms Islamic Jihadists

“U.S. imperialism feels that it can use the jihadists to depose a particular regime,” such as in Syria, “and then pivot and isolate and marginalize the jihadists and put in neoliberal forces,” said Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of history and African American studies at the University of Houston. “That strategy has not been working – look at Libya, for example – and I think that perhaps that may lead to a rethink on the part of Washington.”

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Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 7/17/13

Obama Turns Federal Workers Into Snitches

President Obama’s “Insider Threat Program,” which profiles potential whistleblowers in the federal workforce, “is straight out of fascist models of government and behavior,” said Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, of the No FEAR Coalition. Obama’s executive order requires federal managers and employees to view as “suspect” workers that are under stress, going through divorce, or experiencing money problems. “I think the Obama administration views whistleblowers as terrorists,” said Coleman-Adebayo. “Therefore, he’s put the Gestapo on us.”

WalMart Vs. DC City Council

Lots of folks would be happy if WalMart makes good on its threat to cancel plans for three stores in Washington, DC, and halt construction of three others. The low-wage retailer is balking at compliance with a DC City Council bill compelling WalMart to pay $12.50 an hour, as opposed to the local $8.25 minimum wage. “The effects on small businesses and homeowners within a ten-block radius of their stores is devastating,” said anti-WalMart activist Assantawaa Nkrumah Toure. “Even at $12.50 an hour, if you have a 40-hour work week, that’s still not enough to live on in a city like Washington, DC, where the average one-bedroom apartment can be $1,200 a month.”

Newark Activists: “Hands Off Social Security”

Newark, New Jersey-based Peoples Organization for Progress holds its seventh demonstration against President Obama’s planned cuts in Social Security benefits, with a 25-hour vigil on Tuesday at the agency’s Newark offices. “We say to the Obama administration and the Republicans in Congress, ‘Hands Off Social Security,’” said POP chairman Larry Hamm. “For folks on fixed incomes,” the projected yearly loss of “$500 or $600 is a lot of money, and could be the difference between eating and not eating, or not being able to get a prescription filled.”

California Hunger Strike Gains Traction

“You’ve got 30,000 people putting their lives on the line, refusing to eat because of the tortuous conditions that are forced on them by the state of California,” said Carl Dix, of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network.” The hunger strike was called by inmates in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay. A Center for Constitution Rights lawsuit claims lengthy solitary confinement constitutes torture. “However,” said Dix, “the State of California has shown that it is willing to ignore even court orders to do anything about conditions in prison.”

Socialists Offer “Alternatives”

“The people of Seattle are well to the left of the city establishment,” said Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative candidate for the Seattle city council. Sawant won 27 percent of the vote in a run for the Washington state legislature, last year. Socialist Alternative candidates are also running for city council in Boston and Minneapolis. “What we’re trying to show is that the political space that is currently fully dominated by corporate interests and the wealthy can be taken over by grassroots representatives, by movements.”

What Happened to Malcolm’s Grandson in Mexico?

Hundreds of Mexico City police attacked hunger strikers protesting the killing of Malcolm Shabazz, grandson of Malcolm X, allegedly in a robbery, in May. The protesters, Black expatriates that have settled in Mexico, believe Shabazz was murdered by police. Their U.S. liaison, Dr. Randy Short, said “Mexico is known for being a notoriously bigoted and racist society.” The Shabazz family has only recently asked for help in finding out what happened to 28 year-old Malcolm, said Dr. Short.

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