Black Agenda Report 9 January 2014: Obama the Dis-Equalizer / End of Pot Wars? / Prosecutorial Racism

9 January 2014 — Black Agenda Report

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Barack Obama has used up his people-friendly rhetoric over the past five years, and is now repeating promises he’s already made and broken: to raise the minimum wage, strengthen worker rights, establish truly universal health care, and fight for the common man and woman. Obama’s new rhetorical target is gross income inequalities – a catastrophe that has worsened on his watch.

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

What if policymakers wanted to make marijuana safe for taxation and corporate profit, but needed to make sure legalization didn’t produce new jobs and economic opportunities for poor and working class communities, or make them lay off any cops and judges, or have to close any prisons or jails? Well, the model in place in Colorado today would be a good start.

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

Prosecutors go to bizarre lengths to put Black victims of police gunfire in prison. A young man blinded by a cop’s bullet may spend 35 years in prison. A unarmed, mentally ill man who was shot at by police faces 25 years behind bars because the cops wounded two bystanders. Who cares? “The black misleadership class are unconcerned with the plight of the people who are targeted by the system.

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

South Africa appears poised to reclaim its revolutionary legacy from the clutches of the African National Congress, which has “devolved into a fat and corrupt partner of white capital.” As the Age of Obama nears its end, Black America must also awake from the catastrophe of racial symbolism and self-delusion.

by BAR editor and columnist Ajamu Baraka

Capitalism has made good use of the world’s two most prominent Black men. Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela served as the faces that defused Black opposition to the neoliberal agenda. “What mattered in South Africa in the 90s as it does in the U.S. today is a relatively stable environment in which state power is used to realize the interests of national and international capital.”

by Anthony Monteiro

Black “rule” in South Africa is illusory. “White supremacy without the obvious hand of white people is the form of social and political control, which replaces legal apartheid.” The revolution was derailed. “The road from the Freedom Charter, to the Morogoro Consultative Conference, to the 1994 elections, to the murder of 34 miners at Mirikana in 2012, is the ANC’s road to counter-revolution.”

by Cliff Conner and Michael Steven Smith

Lots of people who call themselves socialists have high hopes for Bill de Blasio, the new mayor of New York City. If de Blasio is really as “left” as some imagine, he could use his bully pulpit “to rally public support to fight for socially progressive measures.” The authors have some suggestions.

by Ann Garrison

The Obama administration and its European allies lavish praise, weapons and money on Paul Kagame’s military and ethnic dictatorship in Rwanda. Meanwhile, Victoire Ingabire, a woman of peace, languishes in Kagame’s prisons. If she were president, “there would be a major change in how Rwandans and Congolese live as neighbors, because that would be the end of Rwanda invading Congo.”
 

by Colin Jenkins

“Solidarity unionism” has energized thousands of workers in low wage industries, especially fast food. The movement has been building for more than a decade, in response to the pauperization of the U.S. working class. “There are millions of workers in this industry living in poverty, with no consistent scheduling, no job security and no respect.

by Adam Engel

Writer Adam Engel describes former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney as a person who doesn’t merely speak truth to power, but acts in accordance with such truths. In this extended conversation, the former Green Party presidential candidate explores “how we end the lived nightmares of the world’s billions.”

by BAR Poet-in-Residence Raymond Nat Turner

War House hoets shamelessly

Raise golden goblets

Of fracking fluid, toast

Eternal war, war profiteers

Lynne Stewart Rings in New Year on the “Outside”

People’s lawyer Lynne Stewart called her New Year’s Eve compassionate release from a Texas federal prison a “true victory” of the people. The Obama administration “would not give an inch, and we would not give an inch, and it worked out in the end that they blinked,” said Stewart, who served four years of a ten-year sentence for zealously defending her client. “It’s a victory for the people because the people adopted me as their heroine. I’m determined to fight the cancer, I’m determined to become an activist again.” Stewart is battling Stage Four breast cancer.

“Human Rights” Needs Redefinition

“The potential of the human rights ideal has been hijacked by western powers” to “justify their continued hegemony,” said Ajamu Baraka, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and founder of the U.S. Human Rights Network. What’s needed is a “people-centered” approach to human rights, one that rejects exploitation of humankind. So-called “humanitarian” military intervention under the doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) “is no more than a 21st century re-articulation of the White Man’s Burden,” said Baraka.

Washington DC Moves Toward Pot Decriminalization

The District of Columbia, which racks up more arrests of Black people for marijuana possession than any other major population center, will soon pass “one of the most progressive decriminalization bills in the country,” said Seema Sandanandan, program director for the Nation’s Capital chapter of the ACLU. The legislation would set the penalty for possession of an ounce or less of pot at a $25 civil citation. It would also forbid police from using the scent of marijuana as a pretext to search people, said Sandanandan.

What NAFTA Has Wrought

In the two decades since President Bill Clinton pushed his North American Free Trade Agreement through Congress, “NAFTA has completely devastated United States manufacturing,” causing the loss of five million jobs and tens of thousands of factories, said Alisa Simmons, field director of Public Citizens’ Global Trade Watch. The organization’s report, “NAFTA at 20,” details how “trade agreements are designed to serve corporations, not the people,” said Simmons. President Obama’s proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is shrouded in secrecy, is even worse: “NAFTA on steroids.”

Assassination and Mass Killing in Congo

Many Congolese suspect assassins killed popular army Col. Mamadou Ndala, who was considered a hero in the war against Rwandan-backed rebels, according to Kambale Musavuli, of Friends of Congo. Ndala was uncompromising in his pursuit of M-23 fighters, with whom the Congolese government signed yet another accord, late last year. In Kinshasa, the capital city, at least 100 youthful followers of a political preacher were killed by security forces after they seized a television station and accused President Joseph Kabila of being a “Rwandan imposter.” “The Congolese people are caught in a very vicious circle,” said Musavuli. “They have an illegitimate, oppressive government” and “neighbors who support and arm rebels.”

Mumia on Winnie Mandela

Nelson Mandela’s former wife Winnie, who was banned as a non-person during much of her husband’s long incarceration, was demonized after the end of formal apartheid “because she wouldn’t agree to a new political dispensation that left most Africans exploited,” said U.S. political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal. In a commentary titled “For the Love of Winnie,” Mumia wrote: “For millions and millions of people, her brilliance, her beauty and her courage were like a torch in the mountains. Indeed, she is adored.”

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