A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford
Black voters turned out in greater proportion than whites to elect President Obama, twice. So, why are Blacks powerless to influence his administration, or government in general? Black politics has been stripped of “socially transformative content so that, no matter how large the Black voter turnout, real power remains in corporate hands.”http://traffic.libsyn.com/blackagendareport/20120515_gf_BlackVoting.mp3
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford
These days, a radical label can get you killed. In National Security Speech, “it is clear that to ‘radicalize’ means very much the same as to ‘weaponize’; the radicalized person has been transformed into a weapon.” Under such assumptions, the secret police feel justified in using lethal force on purely political pretexts.http://traffic.libsyn.com/blackagendareport/20130515_gf_Radicals.mp3
by Ajamu Baraka
Now that former Guatemalan president Efrain Rios Montt has been convicted of genocide, it’s time for the “hegemonic puppeteer,” the United States, to be put on trial. “U.S. officials were fully aware of the pogrom against the Ixil people in the mountains of Guatemala at the very moment that the U.S. government was involved in training and arming the Guatemalan military.”
by Jacob Chamberlain
“I would rather have a white president fundamentally dedicated to eradicating poverty and enhancing the plight of working people than a black president tied to Wall Street and drones," activist-academic Dr. Cornel West told British journalists. Barack Obama, like his predecessor, should be tried for war crimes.
by Pascal Robert
Haiti this week marks its 210th anniversary as the world’s first Black republic. The descendants of Haiti’s self-emancipators have been forced to defend their national sovereignty in each succeeding decade. Yet, their struggle for freedom was “the single most important factor in shaping the geopolitical trajectory of the Western Hemisphere since Columbus.”
by Jeffrey B. Perry
The White Man was invented in colonial America “in response to class struggle,” according to the classic work of Theodore W. Allen, now republished. The conferring of white privilege was “not only ruinous for African-Americans; they were also against the class interest of European-American workers.”
by keith harmon snow
Behind the genocide in Congo and elsewhere stand a host of well-paid academics, entertainers, politicians and professional propagandists for U.S. imperial policy. One of them, “Dr. Gerald Caplan, ignores the pain, mutilations, rapes and deaths caused by the western power brokers Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni to millions upon millions of Burundian, Congolese, Sudanese and Ugandan people.”
by Raymond Nat Turner
This is a tale of “Cowardly, cold-blooded killers, the
Worst of the worst, striking again, Killing Americans…”
The arguments used to end welfare have been turned on the unemployed. States are cutting back unemployment benefits and forcing recipients to take lower-paid jobs—and even the employed are affected.
Dr. Paul Farmer, an infectious diseases expert and a medical anthropologist, is known worldwide for helping to bring quality healthcare to some of the most impoverished areas of the globe. More than 25 years ago, Farmer helped found the charity Partners in Health to provide free medical care in central Haiti. Today, Partners in Health teams up with local groups to treat people with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other conditions in Haiti and countries around the world. The South African Nobel Peace laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, calls him "One of the great advocates for the poorest and sickest of our planet." Farmer’s previous book, "Haiti After the Earthquake," describes the massive suffering and ongoing recovery effort after the devastating January 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people. His latest, "To Repair the World: Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation," collects a series of commencement addresses that Farmer has delivered to graduating college students going back more than a decade. Throughout, Farmer urges them to confront global problems through an approach that has long guided his work: a tireless commitment to social justice and solidarity with the world’s poor. Farmer joins us to discuss why he thinks a community-based health approach can help fix the U.S. healthcare system, how Rwanda’s model has drastically improved the lives of its citizens, and how to tackle the massive health problems in post-earthquake Haiti.
The Associated Press says the U.S. Department of Justice has secretly obtained a trove of journalists’ phone records in what its chief executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion." The Obama administration seized records for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Hartford, Connecticut, and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery. More than 100 reporters work in the offices. The records were from April and May of 2012. Among those whose records were obtained were Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, three other reporters and an editor, all of whom worked on a May 7, 2012, story that revealed details about a CIA operation in Yemen which stopped an alleged terror plot. AP had delayed publication of the story at the government’s request. "It seems to be terrible intrusion on the freedom of the press," says Ramsey Clark, the U.S. attorney general from 1967 to 1969. "I don’t see how the press can operate effectively if the public and people that talk to the press have to assume that Big Brother is listening in or can seize the conversations they engage in."
Support is growing for imprisoned attorney Lynne Stewart to be released early from prison due to her worsening health. Stewart’s prison warden has recommended to the Justice Department that she be released to the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The 73-year-old imprisoned grandmother is fighting stage IV cancer that has metastasized, spreading to her lymph nodes, shoulder, bones and lungs. Stewart is serving a 10-year sentence in a federal prison near Fort Worth, Texas. In 2005, she was found guilty of distributing press releases on behalf of her jailed client, Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as the "Blind Sheikh," who is now serving a life sentence for conspiring to blow up New York City landmarks in 1995. We speak to former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Democracy Now! producer Renée Feltz, who is just back from Texas where she interviewed Lynne Stewart in federal prison, the first face-to-face interview granted to a reporter. The call for Stewart comes at a time when the Federal Bureau of Prisons is facing increasing criticism for refusing to release terminally ill prisoners. A recent report from the Justice Department’s inspector general found the bureau’s compassionate release program is "poorly managed and implemented inconsistently, likely resulting in eligible inmates not being considered for release and terminally ill inmates dying before their requests were decided."
Assata, JZ and Beyonce: The Connection
“Domestic law enforcement is at odds” with President Obama because of his “new approach to Latin America and the war on drugs,” said Dhoruba bin Wahad, former Black Panther and co-founder of the Black Liberation Army. According to bin Wahad, who spent 19 years in prison on political charges, Obama is seeking to “calm the shift in power to the Left in Latin America” in his second term. “JZ going to Cuba, getting a visa, was not coincidental,” he said. The recent JZ-Beyonce “trip was about opening up Cuba” to U.S. tourism, “to disrupt and undo the Cuban revolution.” Exiled former Black Panther Assata Shakur’s elevation to number one domestic terrorist on the FBI list “represents the disgruntlement of U.S. law enforcement” with this process.
The Betrayal of the Black Misleadership Class
The Black political class that emerged from the tumult of the Sixties became eager partners with corporate neoliberalism, said Jay Arena, author of Driven from New Orleans: How Non-Profits Betray Public Housing and Promote Privatization. The first generation of the post-Sixties Black political class “emerges just at the time when the national state begins their neoliberal austerity and privatization agenda – and they embraced that,” said Arena, a veteran activist and professor of sociology at the College of Staten Island, New York. Many Black politicians and non-profit organizations collaborated in the dismantling of public housing in New Orleans and cities across the nation.
Superpower Woes in Syria
“The United States, and any other imperialist nation on earth, has no right” to interfere with the internal affairs of Syria, said Jeff Mackler, national secretary of Socialist Action. Washington’s ambitions in Syria have been frustrated because “they don’t have any forces on the ground that they can trust to defend their interests.” The U.S. faced a similar situation in Iraq, and has no reliable allies on the ground in Afghanistan, either, said Mackler.
Momentum is building as four cities and one state have passed paid sick leave provisions, with New York City passing a bill May 8. Still, the benefits are skimpy by international standards.
Scientists are warning the planet has now reached a grim climate milestone not seen for two or three million years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has topped 400 parts per million. The 400 ppm threshold has been an important marker in U.N. climate change negotiations, widely recognized as a dangerous level that could drastically worsen human-caused global warming. We speak to leading climate scientist Michael Mann, distinguished professor of meteorology at Penn State University and author of the recent book, "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines." Mann warns, "We have to go several million years back in time to find a point in Earth’s history where CO2 was as high as it is now. ... If we continue to burn fossil fuels at accelerating rates, if we continue with business as usual, we will cross the 450 parts per million limit in a matter of maybe a couple of decades. With that amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, we commit to what could truly be described as dangerous and irreversible changes in our climate."
In a historic verdict, former U.S.-backed Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt has been sentenced to 80 years in prison after being found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity. Ríos Montt was convicted of overseeing the slaughter of more than 1,700 people in Guatemala’s Ixil region after seizing power in 1982. The ruling marks the first time a former head of state had been found guilty of genocide in his own country. The judge in the case has instructed prosecutors to launch an immediate investigation of "all others" connected to the crimes. Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina was among those implicated during the trial’s testimony after having served as a regional commander under Ríos Montt’s regime. We’re joined by investigative reporter Allan Nairn, who returned to Guatemala to cover the trial after reporting on the massacres extensively in the early 1980s. During a CNN interview in which he denied that a genocide took place, Pérez Molina was confronted with statements he gave to Nairn confirming his role in the Ixil killings three decades ago. "This was a breakthrough for indigenous people against racism and a breakthrough for human civilization," Nairn says of the verdict, which he adds could have major implications for Washington. "The judge’s order to further investigate everyone involved in Ríos Montt’s crimes could encompass U.S. officials [who] were direct accessories to and accomplices to the Guatemalan military. They were supplying money, weapons, political support, intelligence. Under international and Guatemalan law, they could be charged."
Resumenes de artículos de Labor Notes de los EEUU, semana de 6 mayo, 2013, en español e inglés. Summaries of Labor Notes stories from the U.S. for the week of May 6, in Spanish and English. Please pass them on to your Spanish-speaking friends.
By Greg Palast for Vice Magazine
"Us", in this conversation, are the Taliban. The SOB in question is Osama bin Laden.
The Taliban's frustration was relayed to me by Yahya Maroofi, Counsellor to Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai – Karzai's Kissinger, if Kissinger had a soul.
The Silk Road nation of Kazakhstan is an excellent place to encounter the dervishes of the Great Game for control of the camel-and-pipeline routes of the Central Asian steppes. Here we can witness the diplomatic-military idiocies of new empires pathetically attempting to ignore the dried skeletons of the imperial forces that went before them.
Maroofi was spending the day in Kazakhstan's capital on his way to little-noticed peace negotiations – little noticed because neither Uncle Sam nor Great-Uncle Britain were invited. Attendance is limited to those frontline states that will be left holding the grenade when the US and UK pull out the pin with the removal of their troops in 2014. The lineup includes Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan (birthplace of the Boston Bombers) and the big new swinging dick on the block, Turkey, as well as Iran, the nation most feared and despised by the Taliban. The unannounced guests, of course, are the Taliban themselves.
I am moved to recount a bit of my lengthy talk with the Afghan minister after reading reams of meretricious bunkum about Afghanistan from the pens of US propaganda repeaters pretending to be reporters. My favourite is, "Hope Seen for Afghanistan After Coalition Leaves," in the New York Times. To give us an expert view, two American reporters used their 20-column inches to take down the words of General Joseph F Dunford Jr, commander of all "international forces" in Afghanistan.
Dunford just arrived in Afghanistan for the first time about 12 weeks ago. He may not know a Tajik from a camel fart, but he does speak fluent Pashto. (I made that last one up because I'm tired of Europeans making fun of Americans for being ignorant of foreign languages.) Notably, the Times article about the future of Afghanistan includes not one word from an Afghan.
But the General does have lots of medals (see?), so I suppose he's as good a source as any.
I did wonder why the Times flew reporters all the way to Kabul to speak to a bewildered US general when they could have saved time and painful immunisations by just copying the Pentagon press releases in Washington. The Times asked "Fighting Joe", as he's called in his official bio, the only question of concern to the US press: "Will the Afghan troops be able to resume lead responsibility" in killing Taliban? "Yes!" asserted the tourist-general.
So I figured, what the hell, let's ask an Afghan about Afghanistan's future. Maroofi, the minister into whose hands this future falls, takes a different tack entirely. He has no time for the American fixation on whether Afghans will fight the Taliban. He makes it clear that Afghans don't want to fight the Taliban at all. And the Taliban don't want to fight fellow Afghans.
But General Joe wants the Afghan army to prove its mettle in "fighting fellow Muslims and countrymen", as the Times puts it. It appears the US has a great fear that, without US boots on the ground and drones in the sky, the war will end, and with it, the Great (and very lucrative) Game.
However, it is the hope of most Afghans, and the goal of the Karzai government, not to kill Taliban, but to bring them into the government.
Or, as Maroofi explains, to recognise publicly that "the Taliban are already in the government, in the Parliament, in control of governorships" – but not openly. The talks among the frontline nations are to bring the Taliban back to its roots as a political organisation, not an armed insurgency.
Maroofi notes that there are some kinks to work out: Currently, female members of the Afghan parliament are fearful of attending with their not-yet-public Taliban colleagues.
"Taliban are Pashtun. They are citizens of Afghanistan. They have to have a place in our democracy." That's not what Uncle Sam wants to hear. President Barack Obama, the Drone Ranger, wants to convert Afghan forces into a kind of drone army, remotely controlled killers keeping the pot boiling.
Afghans, however, have had enough of playing proxy in someone else's war. And they see an opportunity to end the killing. It was taken as a matter of fact by all the Asian diplomats I met that, "The Taliban have been defeated" – militarily, that is; like the US army, they can't advance or hold ground. They are facing fellow Pashtuns (Karzai is one, of course), not the Northern Alliance of minorities that once controlled their opposition. The Taliban can't party like it's 1999.
Plus, the Taliban know there's a four-trillion-dollar carrot awaiting those who sign on to a peace agreement. The US Air Force has conducted a complete aerial survey of Afghan resources and released Russian assays measuring the nation's untapped mineral wealth in gold (in Badakshan), copper (Balkhab), iron (Haji-Gak), cobalt (Aynak), carbonatite (Khanneshin), tin (Dusar-Shaida) and more. Afghanistan could be the Saudi Arabia of rich rocks.
Left out of the published US reports (but something I dug out of old paper CIA files not purged from computers) was the most valuable stash of all: uranium, possibly the world's largest deposit. The Soviets secretly mined the uranium, using only imported Russian workers, until they were chased back home in 1988.
Uranium mining beats the hell out of the opium trade (which is slipping to Myanmar, anyway). The Karzai government's hope is to leave a path to wealth as its legacy, but that wealth can't be dug out until the soil above is free of land-mines and maniacs.
Chinese state companies are lining up in Kabul with shovels and signing bonuses. Maroofi likes Chinese companies – they're more likely to provide jobs than baksheesh. Unlike Western companies.
Baksheesh. Bribes. Corruption. It was this topic that set Maroofi on a long rip. Yes, Afghans have been showered with billions in bribes, backhanders and corrupt deals, but who's paying those bribes? Who's doing the corrupting?
"Karzai told defence contractor Lockheed Martin, ‘You give hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts to my family and to my minister's families because you expect to buy influence. You're not getting influence, and you're not getting your money back, either.'"
Lockheed’s response is that it is required by US law to give contracts to the “most qualified” bidder, regardless of familial relationships with government. Any government, it seems: Lynn Cheney, Dick’s wife, was once on Lockheed’s Board of Directors.
(Maroofi gave me details of questionable contracts that are poisoning the entire system of governance. I intend to hunt down the facts, so watch this space.)
America’s front pages have been splashed this past week with the CIA’s admission that it has been sending bucket-loads of US currency to President Karzai’s office. No one suggests that Karzai has dipped his own hand into the buckets: the loot is for his dispersal among warlords who need a little TLC. For example, Uzbek berserker Abdul Rashid Dostum boasts of billing the CIA $800,000 per month to stay on the government’s side.
But Karzai simply can't control the buckets of system gone wild. Maroofi is particularly incensed that, "These US companies give millions to governors they know are splitting the money with the Taliban." One favourite racket is for the Taliban to take millions in bribes (via the governors) to let through shipments of material used to supply US forces in remote areas who are fighting the Taliban.
Right now, the Taliban are ready – if reluctantly – for the peace deal, in order to get a piece of the resource action. And they're astonished that, with that sonovabitch Osama dead, the US still holds a grudge.
Why? Face it: if Karzai can end the war, then the winner of the Great Game is… China. After all, the US has almost all the ore it needs under its own soil or within easy grabbing distance from Canada and Latin America. And unlike China, desperate for those gas pipelines from Kyrgyzstan and oil lines from the Caspian, the US has fracked natural gas and oil coming out its arse. Indeed, unleashing Afghanistan's resource riches will only crash the price of commodity reserves held by US companies.
Afghanistan's peace is China's economic life-line and America's commodity price recession.
General Joe is not worried about a sudden outbreak of peace. “You can accuse me of being an optimist and I’ll plead guilty,” as he looks forward to an Afghanistan trapped in a war without end. For US corporations, that means a profit centre without end. That's because, even after US troops go, the military-industrial gravy train – boarded by contractors, special ops mercenaries, “development” agencies and their fixers – will continue to roll.
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Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, just named Book of the Year on BBC Newsnight Review.