Sunday, November 30, 2008

T.W.I.N. #6: Mumbai, Gujarat, Pakistan


If you're going to listen to anyone talk about Pakistan and India, Tariq Ali is the one. The round-the-clock coverage of the Mumbai hostage crisis was essentially hollow. I had MSNBC on for nearly all of Thankstaking Day, and they talked about nothing but Mumbai. Unfortunately they provided scant context and history, let alone analysis of the attacks. And forget about any discussion of root causes--I didn't hear "Gujarat" mentioned once. In 2002 over 1000 people, mostly Muslims, were massacred by Hindus (in retaliation for a Muslim massacre of 58 Hindus on a train). As if the deaths aren't awful enough, the slaughter was apparently carried out with encouragement from the right wing Hindu nationalist state government, which takes the whole affair from "communal violence" to a pogrom. According to Ashutosh Varshney, associate associate professor of political science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and director of its Center for South Asian Studies,
Reports in almost all major newspapers of India, with the exception of the vernacular press in Gujarat, show that at least in March, if not April, the state not only made no attempt to stop the killings, but also condoned them.6 That the government “officially encouraged” anti-Muslim violence—something often believed—cannot be conclusively proved on the basis of the evidence provided by newspaper reports, though later research may well prove that. What is unquestionable is that the state condoned revenge killings.

In no way am I trying to condone the Deccan Mujahideen's actions--they stand out as examples of just how awful we, as humans, can be. I do, though, think there is a lot more to it than "Muslim fundamentalism/extremism/terrorism." I mean, the media here, and the state of India, are pushing the idea that terrorism is endemic to Islam. Just listen to the coverage! The rush to connect these 19 year old boys to Pakistan was incredibly swift. Why?

Well, this view of Muslims has a practical, geopolitical function, namely military action against the people of Pakistan. Which brings us to the Tariq Ali video at opening of this post. It doesn't look good, folks. The fearsome military power (both state and private) that will be shifted from Iraq to Pakistan and Afghanistan will not be good for any of us. It's terrorism, too, afterall.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

T.W.I.N. #5: Homage; Barack & The Rest of Us; Sports Roundup


In the midst of the (inter)national excitement at our election of Barack Obama, one of the great leaders of The People has passed. To Miriam Makeba, all praises due. She is one of the true revolutionaries of the last century, fighting with body, soul and song. She and June Jordan share so much...I wonder if they ever met.

In thinking of the connections between these two women, it's appropriate to use the "Soweto Blues" video, which starts off with the banning of languages. June was passionate about language, and organized in Oakland to get Black English recognized and taught in schools. Well before that, she wrote "Nobody Mean More to Me Than You' and The Future Life of Willie Jordan'" in which she laid out the foundations for the language. Her "Poem for South African Women" also rings loudly when I consider the connections between her and Makeba, as well as the prospects for a just future:


Our own shadows disappear as the feet of thousands
by the tens of thousands pound the fallow land
into new dust that
rising like a marvelous pollen will be
even as the first woman whispering
imagination to the trees around her made
for righteous fruit
from such deliberate defense of life
as no other still
will claim inferior to any other safety
in the world

The whispers too they
intimate to the inmost ear of every spirit
now aroused they
carousing in ferocious affirmation
of all peaceable and loving amplitude
sound a certainly unbounded heat
from a baptismal smoke where yes
there will be fire

And the babies cease alarm as mothers
raising arms
and heart high as the stars so far unseen
nevertheless hurl into the universe
a moving force
irreversible as light years
traveling to the open eye

And who will join this standing up
and the ones who stood without sweet company
will sing and sing
back into the mountains and
if necessary
even under the sea:

we are the ones we have been waiting for.

from Passion: New Poems, 1977-80, by June Jordan
copyright 1980 June Jordan
reprinted with permission of the June M. Jordan Literary Estate Trust


Obama lifted the last line of that poem, without attribution, in one of his speeches. I guess it's a tribute to the beauty of the poem that a line can embed itself in the vernacular, but I'm still a little upset that she wasn't credited. This all leads me into some thoughts about the administration he'll be appointing. Last week I mentioned the Rahm Emmanuel represents a clear move away from us, the People, and our interests. And tonight on 60 minutes our President-elect said that he'd be appointing at least one Republican to the cabinet. Again, a shift away from us, though not terribly surprising.

As it turns out, some other folks have been putting in some thought on this, too. Check out the articles below, one from Naomi Klein, and the other from the Black Agenda Report.

Naomi Klein argues that the most important thing to do is to stop the corporate thugs from taking our taxes while rewriting the laws to pay themselves off:
It’s not too late to halt the robbery in progress, but it cannot wait until inauguration. Several great initiatives to shift the nature of the bailout are already underway, including I added my name to the “Call to Action: Time for a 21st Century Green America” and invite you to do the same.

Stopping the bailout profiteers is about more than money. It is about democracy. Specifically, it is about whether Americans will be able to afford the change they have just voted for so conclusively.


Bruce Dixon explains why Rahm Emmanuel is poisonous, and why OUR antidote is the Employee Free Choice Act.

Representative John Conyers has promised to pursue impeachment hearings against Bush. Check it out!


Thank gawd for E:60, ESPN's international sports documentary series. The most recent segment is about a soccer academy in Ghana (another shout out to Mama Afrika, who was married to Kwame Ture and lived there, I believe). Hungry for a Better Life documents how so many young kids use sports as a last vestige of hope. For good or ill, here it is.

So, there you have it friends! Thanks for all your feedback!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

T.W.I.N. #4: Natural Selection; A Series of Unfortunate Events; Sports

In all my time working with youth I've never experienced young people truly believing that their leader(s) believe in them. Tuesday that changed. Here's what I said to my students:

"Today is a big day! A new day! Today, this day, is different than any other day in our lives; different than any other day in our nation's history.

"We elected Barack Obama last night! (Hoots, hollers, jubilation)

"Yeah! WE did it! Our parents, our aunts and uncles did it! We, the People, did it! We said that we believe in this man, and we will allow him to lead us. Make no mistake, he didn't get to where he is without us--we put him there. That's right. We elected a leader we believe in (affirmations!). And for the first time in our lives, we have a leader who believes in us. Yes, yes, today is a new day!

"But just look around us. There's trash on our play field. Again. That dog crapped in front of our school entrance this morning. Again. Last night people were arrested and taken from their families. People will still be sleeping on the streets this night. Today is a new day, for sure. But our world hasn't changed over night.

"And it won't. You have to change it! And it's going to take hard work. Your job now is to come to school every day and work your butts off. Every day. You are where the change begins. We, the people elected Barack Obama last night because we believe that, with his leadership you can be all that you hope to be. You can change your world, starting right now.

"And you have to. In four years they're going to ask if people did better. If people got better. If the answer is no; if you didn't work your butts off and become great; if you don't succeed, then they will elect someone else. And there may never be another black president here. There may never be another leader who believes in you again. It's that serious! Your every day work here, in this school means just that much. So, let's get to it!

I do believe in what I said to my students. I do see the honest to goodness hope in their eyes. I do believe that the opportunity now to actually move forward (to the Left) is real. Now, Obama is the symbol of this opportunity, but make no mistake, we're going to have to fight him and his administration tooth and nail all the way. But at least we're ready to fight again!

On the upside, Obama is going to reverse some of Bush's anti-human executive orders, including the Global Gag Rule. This is huge, and as far as I'm concerned, fair reason to vote for a Democrat, no matter how terrible they will inevitably be.

As for those terrible things, here's some of what we'll have to contend with:

Rahm Emmanuel. This guy is a NAFTA supporter and generally a worker's nightmare. According to John Laesch:
As a senior member of the United States Congress, Rahm continued to support unfair trade agreements like NAFTA, cap-stoning his time in Congress by pushing hard to pass the largest piece of corporate welfare in American history, the $700 billion Wall Street bailout.

His involvement in the bailout makes sense, as he was also a Freddie Mac big-wig during a tidy little scandal where Freddie Mac
misreported profits by billions of dollars in order to deceive investors between the years 2000 and 2002.

That's the kind of change we could spare, if you know what I mean.

Oh yeah, did I mention that he introduced Obama to AIPAC.


Royal Dutch Shell has been given a monopoly of Iraq's oil!
A secret document obtained by United Press International reveals a planned joint venture company between Royal Dutch Shell and the Iraqi Oil Ministry would give the company a 25-year monopoly on the gas industry of southern Iraq.

The ACLU has reported that the Bush administration is (again) blocking the release of photos that document the abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo.

Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos was prevented from paying tribute to Barack Obama after scoring a touchdown. Apparently he was about to pull a black and white glove from his uniform and put it on, as a symbol of progress with regards to racism. He says he got the idea from John Carlos and Tommy Smith.

Lebron James shared some boilerplate remarks about Obama. You'll have to excuse my cynicism when it comes to the "Witness" who refused to sign on to an open letter, written by Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Ira Newble, condemning China’s government for contributing to the genocide of people in the Darfur region of Sudan. Later for him.

Steve Young, on a brighter note, came out (ha!) against Prop 8 in California. He and his wife donated 50,000 to the campaign against the marriage equality ban.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

T.W.I.N #3: Barack The Vote; The Stupid Economy;


So, according to (check out the side panel on the right) it's looking like Obama is going to walk away with this election. I mean, it's not over, but a 96% chance of victory is one that seems pretty clear. If you haven't checked out fivethirtyeight (so named b/c that's how many electoral votes there are in the nation), definitely do so. It was started by a baseball/moneyball guy, a stat-head who's got too much time on his hands. Thank Gawd for that! He basically weights all the state and national polls based on their historical accuracy and creates like 10,000 electoral scenarios a day to come up with a snapshot of the electorate. Today's 'results' are below:


It's great to poll "likely" voters or registered voters or undecided voters or whomever, but what happens when that "likely" voter's vote is discarded? Or not picked up? Or blocked?

OK, so Oprah's voting tribulation is fairly innocuous, right? But check out this story from Georgia.
In a bold move this week, Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) announced she was sending letters to 4,770 registered voters that they may have to cast "challenge" ballots that won't be counted on election day.

In a striking announcement, she also declared that regular citizens could address the "problem" of non-citizen voting by contesting the citizenship of fellow voters at the polls -- forcing them to also cast challenged ballots that won't be included in election day tallies.

Cynthia McKinney knows a little bit about the voter disenfranchisement in Georgia. She had her congressional seat ripped from under her due to republican gerrymandering (the Republicans used some of the same tactics in Connecticut re: Ned Lamont and Joe Sleaziman). McKinney's now running for prez on the Green Party ticket. Though I think this move is a mistake at this point in time I do support her run. She's pushing the Democrats to the left, which must be done. And, if we believe in the accuracy of 538, the questions that we have to ask circle around how we can force the Dems, and Obama, to recognize us and meet our needs.

In some uplifting news, 109-year old Amanda Jones cast her ballot for Obama last week. She's the daughter of a slave. Seriously. No words...


Exxon posted record 3rd quarter profits. Surprised?

Goldman Sachs bags up $12 billion
of our money, and pays its execs $14 in bonuses! Seriously!

The Global Bailout = $5,000,000,000.