All Power to the Peaceful

.NEW. Both tragic events happened on the 15th of the month, one on a Sunday morning before church services inside a Christian Baptist Church and the other on a Friday afternoon during open worship inside two Muslim mosques. One of the events resulted in the deaths of four young girls of the congregation, the other in the deaths of 50 young and old faithful followers.

Both events were cold-blooded, calculated acts of murder committed by believers in the supremacy of the European race and the inferiority of dark-skinned “others”, with the added hope of sparking a race war between them. Both tragedies shocked the conscience of people around the world, jolting them out of any sense of complacency they may have been in regarding the deadly violence of white supremacists.

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When Freedom of the Press Means ‘Unfree’

An independent journalist decided earlier this month to travel overseas to the Middle Eastern nation of Yemen, hoping to cross over legally into the war-torn country and report on the dangerous situation there. Saudi Arabia, using military weapons supplied in part by its ally, the United States, has joined the civil war in Yemen, one of the poorest nations in the Arab world, and the result is one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time. This particular journalist decided to take a risk and try to get into Yemen, with the idea of telling the world what is really happening there on the ground. That is what journalists do, after all.

But when the journalist tried to board an airline flight to the Middle East, he was stopped cold at a major international airport in Japan by an unexpected source: the government of his own country. Passport officials invalidated his passport right there at the airport and ordered him to surrender the passport or face the consequences. The journalist was effectively banned from traveling outside of his country and is now prevented from doing his job.

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Don't Say the Dreaded I-word!

A reigning right-wing president of the United States of America becomes increasingly unpopular among the people, as poll numbers show. His economic policies at home and his foreign policies abroad — especially concerning war and the threat of war — spur on public calls that this boy-emperor of a president be impeached and be punished for his illegal and immoral crimes while in office.

Articles of impeachment are introduced into the U.S. Congress in an attempt to permanently remove this maniac from the White House and see that justice is done. But the impeachment attempt is essentially stopped in its tracks — not only by the unpopular president’s own party, the rightwing Republican Party, but also by the so-called opposition party of Democrats. A powerful leader in the Democratic Party, Nancy Pelosi, in particular, stands in the way of the natural impeachment process.

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Then the Women Spoke, and the Tide Turned

The dust is still settling from the 6 November midterm elections in the United States, but one thing is clear: It was women — especially women of color — who made the difference in this election. And not only that: Women, as a bloc, asserted themselves as the primary force of resistance against FPOTUS (Fake President of the United States) Donald Trump and his neo-fascist political agenda. And just in time, too.

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The Sound of a Tidal Wave Coming

Word has just arrived that United States Court of Appeals judge Brett Kavanaugh has been approved by the U.S. Senate and officially sworn in as the newest justice on the U.S. supreme court. The contentious, three-month-long confirmation process of Kavanaugh was watched around the world and protested and opposed by women everywhere.

What emerged from those unprecedented hearings was a clear picture of a supreme court nominee who was supremely unqualified on just about every count. Kavanaugh, a staunch Republican, was exposed as having a problem in his younger years with sexually abusing women and with alcoholism. He may well have also perjured himself under oath by denying and lying about that. He was not being charged with a crime before the U.S. Senate, true, but he was being interviewed for one of the highest public-service jobs in the nation. He failed the job interview miserably.

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One Hundred Years of Madiba

Nelson Mandela, in his lifetime, had a way of getting people’s attention. Whether it was living up to his African childhood name of Rolihlahla — “one who shakes the tree” or stirs up trouble — or serving as the first chief of a liberation army connected to his political party, the African National Congress, or going to prison for nearly three decades for his beliefs, or emerging from that prison hell to become the first elected president of a free and democratic South Africa, he commanded people’s attention and could not be ignored.

The same holds true in death. Mandela died at age 95 in December 2013, but less than five years later, South Africa and the world this year are celebrating the centenary of Madiba, the tribal clan name by which most South Africans affectionately know Mandela, their beloved former leader.

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A People’s Cry, a Heroine’s Silence

Rhino Records released in 2004 a compilation CD of various artists from around the world coming together for a good cause: “Dedicated to freeing Aung San Suu Kyi and the courageous people of Burma”, as the front cover of the CD boldly noted. This two-disc set, titled For the Lady, featured tracks by the usual fare of socially conscious liberal/leftish artists, plus a few more apolitical types — like former Beatle Paul McCartney and guitarist Eric Clapton — that you normally wouldn’t see on this kind of overtly political music release.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, “The Lady” to whom this CD was dedicated, had been under house arrest by the brutal military regime in the southeast Asian nation of Burma for more than a decade. Buyers of this CD were encouraged to support and get involved in a nonprofit organization called the U.S. Campaign for Burma as a way to show solidarity for the oppressed people of that country. Aung San Suu Kyi was to Asia then what Nelson Mandela was to Africa — a true hero in the struggle for an oppressed people’s freedom.

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Parry’s Way: Journalism as It Should be Done

All the recent obituaries, eulogies and rightful praise for the work of the late American investigative journalist Robert Parry have now moved on by, leaving us only to reflect on the impact that his kind of journalism has had on the mass media field in our time and, just as importantly, where that kind of journalism could and should go from here.

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Playing the Soundtrack of Our Lives

There are many contemporary musical artists around whose work touches us deeply, inspires us, motivates us, tells our life stories in their lyrics and songs. We think of them as playing the soundtrack of our very lives.

A select few musicians in the world, though, rise to the status of soundtrack-makers for entire cultures, peoples and nations. Hugh Masekela, the South African jazz trumpeter who passed on recently at the age of 78, is among that highly regarded level of musical giants. His music was the soundtrack of a nation-in-the-making, South Africa, and spoke directly to countless numbers of people around the globe, especially in the African diaspora.

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No Necktie for a Dictator

It was January 1990 and here I was at a conference center in Harare, the capital city of the southern African nation of Zimbabwe, sniffing around for some kind of a good story I might report at a high-level, ministerial meeting of British Commonwealth nations — a gathering of sovereign countries, like Zimbabwe, that still bowed down and answered to their former colonial master, the United Kingdom, out of economic necessity and survival. Nothing much happening here, I thought, and I was just about ready to leave the boring governmental event empty-handed.

Then, luck of all luck, I spied over in an isolated corner of the lobby of the conference center a VIP greeting the occasional straggling guest. But it was not just any old VIP. It was Robert Gabriel Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, who had just delivered the welcoming speech.

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