Monday, December 30, 2013

The Ongoing Conflicts in the Motherland

"Yacub said, 'When you go back among them, lie about them to each other, and when they start fighting, ask them to let you be the mediator. And as soon as you become the mediator then you're the boss.' The white man has done this trick everywhere." Malcolm X

For the past couple of weeks, violent conflicts have erupted in the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

All Africa reports that:
The sectarian violence in the Central African Republic, CAR, is gaining in intensity in spite of the deployment of 1,600 French 'Opération Sangaris' troops in the capital, Bangui, beginning on December 5, 2013. The French were later followed on December 19, 2013 by the African Union, AU-led International Mission for Support to the Central African Republic, MISCA peacekeeping force.

Commanded by Cameroonian-born Brigadier Gen. Martin Tumenta Chomu, the 3,600-strong MISCA force whose strength is expected to reach 6,000 men, replaced the sub-regional FOMAC mission that had been battling to restore peace to the war-ravaged country. Both deployments were preceded by two days of unprecedented sectarian bloodletting in Bangui at the beginning of the month between Moslem and Christian gunmen and civilians.

Military Deployment, Rising Violence

Both 'Opération Sangaris' and MISCA have so far deployed hundreds of troops in the capital, but they are yet to restore a semblance of normalcy. Rather, Christian-on-Moslem and Moslem-on-Christian violence has been on the increase in recent days. Overwhelmed by the situation, French President, François Hollande, over the weekend called for the involvement of the UN to stem the growing spectre of violence.

Over 40 people were killed on Christmas Day 2013. A mass grave containing at least 30 Moslem corpses was discovered near the Roux Barracks on Panthers' Hill, close to the Presidential Palace on December 26, 2013. On the same day, two Congo (Brazzaville) police peacekeepers were killed in a clash with the Presidential Guard manned by former Séléka fighters. Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye, whose residence was earlier ransacked by militia men, now lives and operates from Bangui M'Poko International Airport under the protection of French troops.

The Wall Street Journal reports that:
In the space of two weeks, the world's youngest nation has tumbled from a promising protégé of the West to a broken state with little hope for peace.

South Sudan now stands divided between government and rebel-controlled territory. The battle between the president and his former deputy has split much of the nation along ethnic lines. And in a country where oil is power, the rebels control one oil-producing state and the government the other.

Now, many Sudanese worry that their chance at peace is over, and the new normal is ethnic warfare.

"This is something we were trying to prevent for a long time. And we did not manage to," said Garang Majak Bol, the government's head of legal affairs and human rights.

Fighting continues despite calls for a truce. More than 1,000 people have been killed in this nation of 10 million and well over 120,000 have fled their homes. The country's two largest ethnic groups—the Dinka and the Nuer—have gone on killing sprees against each other...

This wasn't the future South Sudan was supposed to have after Western governments used aid and influence to help carve the republic from Sudan in 2011 after its decadeslong struggle for independence. Without the religious battle with the largely Muslim regime to the north, the largely Christian south was expected to drill for oil and prosper.

Diplomats from the U.S., China, the East African region and elsewhere are now trying to broker a cease fire between President Salva Kiir and his former Vice President, Riek Machar. Mr. Kiir has said he is ready to stop fighting and talk. Mr. Machar has responded he will only enter negotiations if 11 of his compatriots who have been arrested are released. Both sides have moved to seize territory from the other in recent days.
Religious, ethnic and personality differences are a smoke screen.  Those differences are not the root cause of the violence.  Such conflicts are the result of the continuing legacy of colonialism.  It is no coincidence that former colonial power France has deployed troops to CAR.  The U.S., China and others are not negotiating a cease fire out of the goodness of their hearts.  Ultimately, it is about controlling Africa's resources. Those resources include oil, diamonds, gold, copper and silver. While CAR and South Sudan remain two of the poorest countries in the world, the West and others will plunder their natural resources.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Mr. President, Don't Turn Your Back on Us

USA Today reports that:
Some of President Obama's staunchest supporters Monday announced their opposition to his nominees for federal courts in Georgia.

The group, which included civil rights luminaries such as Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the Rev. Joseph Lowery and Rev. C.T. Vivian, Georgia's black congressional delegation and a long list of African-American civil rights groups and legal associations, is protesting six nominees to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Northern District of Georgia. They say the nominees lack diversity and that one defended Georgia's voter-identification law and another supported flying the Confederate flag at the state Capitol.

"Somebody has made a tragic mistake," said Lowery, speaking from the pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Martin Luther King Jr.'s one-time congregation. "We've not come to attack the president. Somebody did this for him. And we say that he must undo it. It is insulting to come into Georgia in 2013 and bring a slate of nominees that is so unrepresentative of the state."

Lowery backed Obama early in his first presidential campaign when many black leaders were supporting Hillary Clinton; in 2009, Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Obama also presented Lewis with the award in 2011 and Vivian with it earlier this year.

The group says that only one of the six nominees is African American. Also, they say that nominee Mark Cohen, an Atlanta attorney, argued in favor of Georgia's Voter ID law, which they say aims to suppress black voting power, and that nominee Michael Boggs voted to keep the Confederate battle flag emblem on the state flag when he was a state representative. Cohen and Boggs could not be reached for comment Monday.

The White House supplied statistics to say that its judicial picks are more diverse than those of previous administrations — 18% of Obama's confirmed judges have been African American, compared with 8% for George W. Bush and 16% for Bill Clinton.
Yes, Mr. President. Overall, your judicial nominations have been more diverse than previous administrations. I commend that.

However, your past record does not excuse or justify your current Georgia judicial nominations. As you know, nominee Mark Cohen supported Georgia's voter ID law. Your Attorney General, Eric Holder, is fighting such laws in Texas and North Carolina. Clearly, you know that such laws are designed to suppress the black vote. Why on earth would you nominate a man like Mark Cohen? Why would you trust someone like Mr. Cohen to make crucial decisions on important civil rights cases?

Why would you nominate Michael Boggs, a man who voted to keep the Confederate battle flag emblem on the Georgia state flag? The Confederate flag is a symbol of slavery, racism, Jim Crow and treason. Anyone who embraces such a symbol is not worthy of being a federal judge. The last thing that we need is someone with a Confederate mentality making decisions in important civil rights cases.

Mr. President, African Americans are your most loyal supporters. As your poll numbers continue to decline, we remain by your side. Certainly, we deserve better than this. Mr. President, do not turn your back on us now. Our concerns should be more important than appeasing your political opponents.

Friday, December 20, 2013

President Obama Begins to Fight the New Jim Crow

Yesterday, President Obama took a step in the right direction.  Slowly, he is chipping away at the New Jim Crow.  For that, I commend the brother. The New York Times reports:
President Obama, expanding his push to curtail severe penalties in drug cases, on Thursday commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates who were convicted of crack cocaine offenses. Each inmate has been imprisoned for at least 15 years, and six were sentenced to life in prison.

It was the first time retroactive relief was provided to a group of inmates who would most likely have received significantly shorter terms if they had been sentenced under current drug laws, sentencing rules and charging policies. Most will be released in 120 days. The commutations opened a major new front in the administration’s efforts to curb soaring taxpayer spending on prisons and to help correct what it has portrayed as inequality in the justice system.

In a statement, Mr. Obama said that each of the eight men and women had been sentenced under what is now recognized as an “unfair system,” including a 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses that was significantly reduced by the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010.

“If they had been sentenced under the current law, many of them would have already served their time and paid their debt to society,” Mr. Obama said. “Instead, because of a disparity in the law that is now recognized as unjust, they remain in prison, separated from their families and their communities, at a cost of millions of taxpayer dollars each year.”

The commutations have come during a pendulum swing away from tough mandatory minimum sentencing laws enacted a generation ago amid the crack epidemic. The policies fueled an 800 percent increase in the number of prisoners in the United States. They also carried a racial charge: Offenses involving crack, which was disproportionately prevalent in impoverished black communities, carried far more severe penalties than those for powder cocaine, favored by affluent white users.

TMZ, We Are Not Niggers

During a TMZ interview, hip hop mogul and ex felon Suge Knight said that he prefers the word "nigga" over the term "African American". He further said, "We ain't from Africa." No one expects a thug and criminal like Suge Knight to drop any gems of wisdom. After all, we are talking about a man who got rich promoting, producing and selling so-called gangsta rap. That music constantly refers to black people as niggas, bitches, hoes, etc.  It celebrates murder, drug dealing, misogyny, pimping, stripping, etc. So again, I do not expect to hear enlightening words from Mr. Knight. 

However, I do expect more TMZ, much more. As reported on the Huffington Post, TMZ had the audacity to create a poll asking their readers if black people should be referred to as African Americans or niggas.

TMZ's poll is a prime example of thoughtlessness and cultural insensitivity. It is clearly racist. Imagine if TMZ created a poll asking if Jews should be referred to as Jews or kikes. Imagine if TMZ created a poll asking if lesbians and gays should be referred to as LGBTs or faggots.  Those groups would raise holy hell, and rightly so.

Where is our outrage? While the world is up in arms about a backwoods, red neck reality star for expressing his religious views, we do not hear a peep from those same people about TMZ's racist poll. Where are the letters or petitions to TMZ condemning TMZ's poll?  Where are the demands for an apology to the African American community?

TMZ, we are not niggers. We are African Americans. As Malcolm X said, we did not come to America on the Mayflower. Our ancestors were kidnapped from the motherland, Africa and dragged to America. We were stripped of our humanity and reduced to chattel property. We came to this country in shackles packed in slave ships like sardines. We were forced to wallow in our waste for long periods of time. When we finally arrived in America, we were beaten, raped, burned, shot, lynched, castrated and butchered.

Not only were we physically oppressed, we were mentally oppressed. Over time, our enemy tried to blot out our original African culture, identity and history. However, our African identity did not die. It evolved, adapted, survived and became African American. Africa is in our blood, physical features, food, music, dance, worship and superstitions. Despite our oppression, we managed to salvage fragments of our cultural identity.

Not only did our oppressor try to destroy our culture, our oppressor indoctrinated us with the myth of white supremacy. To further degrade and denigrate us, our oppressor created and used the most offensive word in the English language, nigger. For centuries, the slave masters and segregationists called us niggers and fed us a diet of self hatred. Eventually, many of us internalized our oppression and began to adopt the racist language of the oppressor. Sadly, we began to call ourselves niggers. Instead of fighting that ugly legacy, TMZ has decided to perpetuate it.

We should be outraged, but we are not.  We would rather jump on another group's bandwagon.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Mandela, Apartheid, The CIA and Israel

While the corporate media focuses on trivial matters like selfies, handshakes and fake sign language interpreters, Democracy Now is one of the few media outlets providing crucial information regarding the legacy of Nelson Mandela.

When you get a free moment, I recommend that you watch these important videos. In addition to discussing the life of Nelson Mandela, Democracy Now exposes how the C.I.A. helped the South African government capture Nelson Mandela.  Democracy Now also explains how the U.S. supported the Apartheid regime and how Israel provided military aid to racist South Africa. 

As we continue to mourn the passing of our dear brother Nelson Mandela, we must reflect on the past and continue to struggle for a better future. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

President Obama Speaks at Nelson Mandela's Memorial Service

Shout out to 3ChicsPolitico

Good morning. In case you missed it, President Barack Obama delivered a powerful speech at Nelson Mandela's Memorial Service. See the video is below.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Obama May Have Lied About Syria's Use of Chemical Weapons

As reported in Yahoo News,
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh has dropped yet another bombshell allegation: President Obama wasn't honest with the American people when he blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a sarin-gas attack in that killed hundreds of civilians...

The administration buried intelligence on the fundamentalist group/rebel group al-Nusra. It was seen, Hersh says, as an alarming threat by May, with the U.S. being aware of al-Nusra member able to make and use sarin, and yet the group – associated with the rebel opposition in Syria – was never considered a suspect in the sarin attacks. Hersh refers to a top-secret June cable sent to the deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency that said al-Nusra could acquire and use sarin. But the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of the Defense Intelligence Agency could not find the document in question, even when given its specific codes.

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, told a press conference: ‘It’s very important to note that only the [Assad] regime possesses sarin, and we have no evidence that the opposition possesses sarin.’

It is not known whether the highly classified reporting on al-Nusra was made available to Power’s office, but her comment was a reflection of the attitude that swept through the administration.

The administration was learning about the attack at roughly the same speed civilians were. Hersh says the thorough daily intelligence briefings in the days surrounding the gas attack did not make a single mention of Syria, even as videos and photos of the attack went viral across the Internet. He added that there was revealed a sensor system in Syria that had, in December 2012, shown sarin production at a chemical weapons depot arranged by the Syrian army. Though it was unclear whether this was a simulation or not – all militaries, Hersh says, practice simulations of such things – Obama promptly warned Syria that use of sarin gas would be "unacceptable."
Read more here.

We need more independent media sources like Democracy Now. Instead of thoroughly investigating the government's assertions about Assad's use of chemical weapons, ABC, MSNBC, CNN and other corporate media sources simply served as mouthpieces for Obama. Despite opposing the war against Iraq under Bush, many hypocritical so-called liberals simply parroted government propaganda and became cheerleaders for war against Syria. I hope that the media musters the courage to investigate Seymour Hersh's assertions.  This nation almost went to war based on what appears to be lies.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela, Rest in Peace and Power

Yesterday, our dear beloved brother Nelson Mandela joined the ancestors. The Washington Post reports that:
Flags across several continents fell to half staff early Friday, and South Africans poured into the streets at daybreak in mourning for Nelson Mandela, a liberator whose life spanned nearly a century and whose model for dignity and peace-making was admired across the world.

The death Thursday of Mandela, 95 and long ill, was at once thoroughly foretold and unexpectedly jarring, as people recalled his graceful leadership through what appeared to be an intractable racial crisis in South Africa and his ability to embody hope for moral progress in a beleaguered and often-unjust world. Mandela’s death spurred the rarest of outpourings — one nearly universal and unanimous. Mandela’s face appeared on newspaper front pages from Berlin to Beirut, often with just a few somber words and the years of his life: 1918-2013. His death spurred social media tributes in the United States and China.

I remember when Nelson Mandela came to Detroit, my hometown. My family and I listened to him speak at Tiger Stadium. He is one of my heroes. I admire his courage and sacrifice. He boldly fought to end Apartheid in South Africa. The brother and the African National Congress waged armed struggle against the racism regime. Despite being incarcerated for 27 years, Mandela maintained his commitment and dignity. After being released from prison, Mandela become South Africa's first black president.

Instead of mourning his death, we should celebrate his life and follow his courageous example. Stand up for freedom, justice and equality.  Dear brother Nelson Mandela, rest in peace and power.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

We Don't Need Any More Speeches

Yesterday, President Obama gave yet another eloquent and beautiful speech about the economy. He vividly described the problem of "rising inequality and declining mobility." He discussed empowering workers, creating promise zones, raising the minimum wage, enacting the Pay Check Fairness Act and enacting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. He said all of the right things. He usually does. Aside from his sharp rhetoric about class inequality, we heard this speech before.

Five years into the Obama Presidency and all we get is more speeches about the economy.  Congress refuses to act. As black unemployment remains disproportionately high, all we get is more speeches. Congress refuses to act.  As Detroit goes bankrupt and retired city workers face the real prospect of losing their pensions, all we get is more speeches.  Congress refuses to act.  The New York Times reports that:
In a ruling that could reverberate far beyond Detroit, a federal judge held on Tuesday that this battered city could formally enter bankruptcy and asserted that Detroit’s obligation to pay pensions in full was not untouchable.

The judge, Steven W. Rhodes, dealt a major blow to the widely held belief that state laws preserve public pensions, and his ruling is likely to resonate in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and many other American cities where the rising cost of pensions has been crowding out spending for public schools, police departments and other services.

The judge made it clear that public employee pensions were not protected in a federal Chapter 9 bankruptcy, even though the Michigan Constitution expressly protects them. “Pension benefits are a contractual right and are not entitled to any heightened protection in a municipal bankruptcy,” he said.

James E. Spiotto, a lawyer with the firm Chapman & Cutler in Chicago who specializes in municipal bankruptcy and was not involved in the case, said: “No bankruptcy court had ruled that before. It will be instructive.”
If Congress and the White House can get together to bail out filthy rich, avaricious companies on Wall Street, why can't they get together to bail out Detroit and the rest of Main Street?!?   Why can't they enact the legislation that the President mentioned?  If the U.S. can afford to squander billions in Afghanistan, why can't the U.S. bail out Detroit and the rest of Main Street?  We don't need any more beautiful speeches. We need action. Instead of patiently waiting on Congress to save us, we must force them and the White House to act.