Thursday, Jan. 23, 2003. Page 1
Report: Army Says Iraq War Decided
By Andrew Hammond
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- European heavyweights France and Germany joined forces
Wednesday to prevent any U.S.-led war on Iraq, which French President Jacques
Chirac called "the worst solution."
But a high-ranking Russian military source said Washington and its allies had already
decided to launch a monthlong military strike from mid-February with or without fresh
backing from the UN Security Council, in which Russia and France hold veto powers,
Interfax reported. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said he knew nothing about such a
"Germany and France have the same judgment on this crisis," Chirac said at a news
conference with German Chancellor Gerhard SchrÚder commemorating their countries'
40-year special relationship as the political and economic driving force of the European
"We agree completely to harmonize our positions as closely as possible to find a
peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis," SchrÚder said.
Their comments, and the attack plan carried by Interfax's military news wire AVN,
signaled a sharp increase in tensions surrounding the possibility of war against Iraq,
accused by Washington of hiding banned weapons.
Iraq said its anti-aircraft batteries had shot down an unmanned U.S. spy plane
Wednesday, after destroying an aircraft in December in what General Richard Myers,
chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, described as a "lucky shot." The U.S. military
denied a plane had been shot down Wednesday.
U.S. President George W. Bush is massing more than 150,000 troops in the oil-rich
Persian Gulf and has already made clear he is ready to use them, with or without a new
mandate from the Security Council.
Bush says he has seen no proof of total disarmament but is hoping UN weapons
inspectors will back his view when they report to the Security Council on Monday and
insists the decision on whether to launch a strike has not yet been taken.
AVN quoted an unnamed senior source in the General Staff as saying, however, that
U.S.-led operations would be launched once an attacking force had been assembled in
"According to the information we have, the operation is planned for the second half of
February. The decision to launch it has been made, but not yet been made public," the
source told the agency, which generally has authoritative contacts in the Russian
military and political establishment.
But Ivanov said, "On the basis of information at my disposal, no decision has been
taken by the U.S. administration on launching a military operation in Iraq," Russian
news agencies reported.
Ivanov restated Russia's position that only the UN Security Council could legitimately
authorize military action.
"The military operation against Iraq will be conducted by a combination of means --
strikes will be from the air, land and sea," the Russian military source told AVN. "The
war will be short, lasting about one month."
The source added that the main aim of the operation was not so much to topple Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein but to secure U.S. control over Iraqi oil fields.
"Hussein is the pretext. The real aim of the military action is control over Iraqi oil," he
The State Duma, meanwhile, approved with only a single dissenting vote a resolution
urging President Vladimir Putin to take "all possible actions ... to prevent U.S. military
action against Iraq.
Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Richard Armitage flew to Moscow on Wednesday to
try to convince officials that diplomatic options were "just about exhausted."
UN arms inspectors say they need several more months to search for evidence of
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Tuesday
that "most countries" believed diplomacy had a long way to run.
France, which says it has yet to see a convincing case for war, has hinted strongly that
it might veto a resolution authorizing force. Most of the 15 council members have said
the inspectors need more time.
In Iraq, scores of UN inspectors searched more sites suspected of producing banned
arms, while a UN official said Iraq would face mass starvation if a rationing system to
cope with 13 years of sanctions collapses during any U.S. invasion.
Australia is due to send troops and a transport ship to the Gulf this week, and
Washington's closest ally, Britain, has ordered thousands of troops to the Gulf.
Bush hosts British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Jan. 31 for what some see as a
possible council of war. The inspectors say Iraq's record so far has been mixed, and
Blair reiterated Wednesday that that was not good enough.
"The inspections regime is not a detective agency. That duty to cooperate is not just
about access to sites it is about being open and honest," he told parliament.
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Date: Fri, 24 Jan 2003 11:58:10 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Has Hip Hop been Hijacked?
I'm a London-based journalist doing a report on whether Hip Hop has
degenerated from the conscious force it used to be, as characterised by Public
Enemy, X-Clan, KRS-1 etc, to gangsta rap. In short, what happened to Hip Hop?
One correspondent recently wrote in the blacklist, that he effectively
boycotts some artists by playing the instrumental sides, overlaid with the
accapella versions of conscious rappers.
This is a very important way of reacting to something we would otherwise feel
sad and helpless about. Whoever does this, please get in touch with me, because
I want to interview you for a report on the state of rap today! THIS IS URGENT!
You can remain anonymous if you want. The point is to see whether you feel
'betrayed' by rap. It once raised hopes of political liberation, and has since
sunk to baser levels.
I realize this is not the whole story. I'm trying to undertake a balanced
investigation of how rap and society interact with one another. I want to break
the stereotypes attached to hip hop, and understand, among other things, how the
record industry has twisted the way rap is presented to the public. KRS-1 isn't
alone in his conscious raps, but why do so few rappers like him have such
limited access to the airwaves?
Please contact me if you have any ideas as to whom I should speak to about HOW
rap has changed over the years, and how WE are reacting to that, as listeners,
djs, poets and artists. Anyone well-versed in how the record industry works
would be a welcome contributor.
Date: Fri, 24 Jan 2003 10:42:56 -0500
Subject: Has Hip Hop been Hijacked?
Peace and Blessings
I would like to take you up on your offer and explan my reasons Hip Hop or
better put Cloned Hip Hop has been degrated to gutter trash.
Their was a time were you had X Clan, Public Ememy, Eric B and Rakam Tribe
Called Quest, Kam and others true artist who kept it real. During the 80s
and early 90s you had a cousious movement traveling through the Afrikan
coummunity. Afrikans were learn who they were and grasping on to the Rap
culture. Afrikans were starting to bond basicaly you had a strong movement
towards a true united front. The white establishment who almost lost the
power structure in the 60s was not going to go through another Civil rights
movement in the 90s again. They could not suvive another one and win.
Knowledge and youth was on ourside (example the Rodeny King Rebilling).
Afrikan people was more focused during this time.
You have a dominant White power structure that control this country which is
the Rockerfella Family. You destroy that and destroy the document call the
Con-sistution and control the people who enforce the Con-sistution and you
have took back what truly belongs to us. North Korea has a sence of culture.
China has a sence of culture. Afrikans who live in amerikkka is find their
culture due to the fact White supremacy controls, media, ecomonics, war,
politics, sex, education, labor, land, food, law which is the nine things
people do better know as the 10 people activites. When your ememy has
control of the 10 people activites your ememy has a control of you. This is
what Afrikans you see in america face today.
Now if Afrikans control these activites then what you would have is Afrikan
goblal domation for their are more afrikan then whites. Second of all All
Whites how did Afrikan people wrong would be punished. Whites know they have
did us wrong and one of the biggest fears is that we will return what they
did to us one day.
For Honkeys to prevent this one of the way is through Education. Educate
Afrikans the way they think and behave. In the early 80s and 90s Afrikan
people was starting to let go of the slave platantation behavior and coming
into their own. Meaning Afrikan people were waking up and seeing Amerikkka
for what it is. Honkey had no more control and honkey had to regain control.
One of the was was to Attack Afrikan Education in the Goverment sponsored
institutions. Tony Martian was Attacked, Lenard Jefferys was Attacked and
removed from his post in which he won in a law suit a year later. However to
counter what the court did not do the New York city college had restructured
it's department removing Lenard Jefferys and placing him in a different
position. Dr. Ben was Attacked. Bro Dr. Khallid Muhammad who is with the
creator was attacked for the speech on Keen College About the So Called Jew
was almost Murdered Assassinated in 1994 and was Assassinated in February of 2001.
Activists were attacked on all level and still are to this day. The ones who
had a strong bond with the rappers were attacked the hardest. The honkey
Music industry started to clamp down on the artist. Public Ememy was force
to drop Poffessor Griff. Artist were not receiving music contract because of
their commitment to the Afrikan Community. Rappers who did not want to
covet to honkey hip hop were force to go in to different carriers. ie Sista
Solider who is now a huge disappointment was force to go in a different
Gangsta rap was part of the plan while the Cia was tearing down on one end
they was building up on the other. Gangsta Rap was about changing the focus
of Conscious building to brain washing. Gangsta rap was a begining to a end
of true Rap. Then add the Sisters who are half dress and the Brothers who
are promoting violence, drug dealing, flashing money and clothes and
mistreating sistas. This is what the White Establishment wanted our youth
and adults to focus on now. You have youth out there who think it is cool to
mistreat sistas, to sale drugs, to fight other brothers. Sista to bare it all
to attract a man for money. You have brother who thinks if they dress
expensive and show sista they have money they can have any sista they want.
You now what it is working and sistas who do it are involving themselves in
prostitution. They are not in the streets however the concept is just the
Example on BET their is a segment that come on late at night called uncut.
It comes on real early in the morning like around 3to4 in the morning. I
seen this video called (WHITE GIRLS) the name of the so called brother I can
not remember however this brother give a dedication to White Girls and this is
what the whole video was about he had white girls on their and even made the
statements sista are hating on him for being with a White Girl. Now I
thought BET could not get any lower with Emeim until I seen this video. this
is about accepting this behavior in or community.
The point is about control if you control a person thinking you do not have
to worry about his actions for that person will think and act the way you do
with out you being their. Our youth is been control by falsehood and
deception. Their no such thing as Black Entertainment Telivison. Afrikan
people do not control Black Entertainment Telivison Vicom does which is a
white owned company.
The problem with Hip hop and Rap is Honkeys, stright up. Everything was fine
until we let them take control of Rap and Hip Hop. Ja Rule is not a rapper,
Ememim is not a Rapper, Eve, Missy, Little Kim Foxy Brown Sean Puffy Cobms.
Are not rappers and they are not true hip hoppers. For the Whites low down
so called Jews and honkeys control them. It is the So called Jew,and Honkey
who are attached to the United Snakkkes establishment are calling the shots.
They are tell them what will or will not be played for our community. They
are commercial, fake, generic not the real thing. What you see today is what
Honkeys want you to see. You have a few artist today who are keeping it
real, every line you hear may not be of consciousness however it is respectful.
The day we let Honkeys take control of Rap was the day True Rap died. We as
Afrikans must take it back and keep it underground. If that means selling it
out of the trunk of a vehicle then so be it. If that means doing concerts
for free in a park or gym then so be it. However we must get back what is
To the artist who are keep it real like my sister Asantewaa we must support
them and show them love. For It is sisters like Asantewaa and Bro Kam who
are going to bring rap back to it essences.
Peace and Blessings
Back to Main News Page
Posted on Fri, Jan. 24, 2003
York admits federal child-sex charge
By Debbie Rhyne and Rob Peecher
Telegraph Staff Writers
Malachi York, the religious leader who once claimed to be from another planet, admitted in federal court Thursday
to having sex with children in his United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors and pleaded guilty to two charges.
If the federal court accepts the negotiated agreement that led to York's guilty plea, he will serve 15 years in
federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Sentencing has not been scheduled.
York, 57, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of unlawful transport of minors for the purpose of engaging in sex
acts and a count of trying to evade financial reporting requirements.
He also faces state charges of having sex with children and is scheduled to stand trial Tuesday. Ocmulgee
Judicial Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright said a hearing has been scheduled in the state's case for 11 a.m.
today at the Putnam County Courthouse.
Bright declined to say if York would enter a plea on the state charges also, but assistant U.S. Attorney Richard
Moultrie Jr. said during the federal hearing Thursday that York has "negotiated with the state of Georgia and has
agreed to a similar sentence."
A former follower and the mother of three of York's alleged victims - all of whom are scheduled to testify if York's
trial proceeds as scheduled next week - said Thursday that York's guilty plea is "an answer to my prayers."
"He just thought he could do whatever and get away with it," she said. "But wrong is wrong. I don't care who you
are - what planet he came from - it's still wrong.
"And for those Nuwaubians that don't see it, it's unfortunate. It's very sad that they want to hold on."
Claiming to be from the Planet Rizq, York moved his group 10 years ago from its base in upstate New York to a
476-acre farm in Putnam County and began erecting pyramids and Egyptian-style buildings without proper
permits. At times, as many as 150 people reportedly lived on the farm.
Since 1997, the group has been at odds with county officials over zoning and building issues connected to those
Also in recent years, more than a dozen persons had come forward to authorities, saying they had been sexually
abused by York as children.
In May, federal agents arrested York and raided the Nuwaubian's village, along with deputies from the Putnam
County Sheriff's Office.
In court Thursday, York listened as prosecutors read a "stipulation of fact" that detailed his sex acts with minors
and his illegal financial transactions.
After the stipulation was read, U.S. District Judge Hugh Lawson asked York if he agreed with the facts of the
"It's correct, your honor," York said.
The plea agreement says York moved children from Sullivan County, N.Y., to Eatonton so that he could have sex
with them and that he used adult females to bring him other minor children.
According to the statement read in court and agreed to by York, his molestation of the children involved oral sex,
aggravated child molestation and sodomy. He also made children watch pornographic movies and watched as
other members of his organization performed sex acts with minors, according to the statement.
The children were molested at the Putnam County compound and at a Mansfield Court home in Athens.
The second count he pleaded guilty to says that he had members of his organization make deposits for the
"Ancient Egyptian Order" in amounts less than $10,000 to avoid financial reporting requirements. The money
reportedly came from York's publishing and retail sales.
Copies of the plea agreement were not available, and the criminal case file was still sealed as of Thursday
afternoon. Typically, the U.S Probation Office will do a pre-sentence investigation that spells out a recommended
sentencing range, which the judge is not bound to follow.
Normally, if the judge goes outside the sentencing guidelines of the report, the defendant cannot change his or
her plea. However, York's agreement with the government allows him to withdraw his guilty plea and proceed to
trial if the judge does not accept the negotiated 15-year sentence.
The plea agreement also includes a forfeiture count that requires York to give up $414,000 in cash seized during a
search of his Putnam County property as well as an unspecified number of firearms.
To contact Rob Peecher, call (706) 485-3987 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back to Main News Page
Hundreds of Thousands March in Support of Chavez
January 24, 2003
VENEZUELA: Hundreds of Thousands March in Support of
OneWorld.net to My Yahoo!
Humberto Márquez,Inter Press Service
CARACAS, Jan 23 (IPS) - Hundreds of thousands of
supporters of embattled Venezuelan President Hugo
Chávez bused in from all over the country to march in
the capital Thursday in support of their leader, while
the broad opposition movement held 23 demonstrations in
smaller cities around the country.
"Chávez Won't Go!" was the most frequently chanted
slogan of the huge crowd, in which red -- the symbol of
the "Chavistas" -- was the dominant color, with
people wearing red clothes and berets and waving red
placards and flags as they marched to the Avenida
Bolívar, where the president spoke.
Shortly before his speech, one person was killed and 12
were injured when an explosive device went off outside
the entrance to a subway station near the pro-
In the country's interior, in the meantime, the
opposition protested a ruling handed down by the
Supreme Court Wednesday, which suspended a non-binding
opposition-backed Feb. 2 referendum on Chávez's rule.
"This is the man who took away the power of the rich
and corrupt who governed for 40 years," Nancy Colina,
a 42-year-old mother of two who prepares and sells
fruit preserves in Aragua de Maturín, a small town in
eastern Venezuela, told IPS as she marched. "He can't
leave, because we won't let him!"
Colina stepped off of one of the buses "in which the
eastern patriots were riding," she said. Hundreds of
buses brought in government supporters from every
region, demonstrating the continued resistance against
the eight-week-old strike in the oil industry aimed at
paralyzing the country.
The shutdown declared on Dec 2 by a coalition of anti-
government business associations, trade unions,
political parties and executives and managers of the
state oil monopoly PDVSA is demanding that the
president step down and call early elections.
Ramón García, a bus driver from the Andean mountain
state of Trujillo in western Venezuela, told IPS that
"those who have to go are Ortega and the Fernández's"
-- an allusion to the heads of the labor, business and
oil movements leading the strike: Carlos Ortega, Carlos
Fernández and Juan Fernández.
"The more the fascist oligarchy tries to squash the
people, the louder will be the response," Chávez told
the demonstrators, who numbered half a million
according to the organizers but less than 300,000
according to press reports.
Due to the tense political climate, the opposition
leaders called on those opposed to the government to
stay at home in Caracas Thursday, the 45th anniversary
of the fall of the last dictatorship (1948-1958).
In the run-up to the pro-government march, pamphlets
circulated and neighborhood meetings were held in the
anti-Chávez middle-class residential districts of
Caracas, to take inventory of available weapons, for
fear of looting and violence by the Chavistas.
"We have observed with sadness how many people in the
(middle to upper-income neighborhoods on the) eastside
of Caracas have entrenched themselves...with their
weapons ready and food and water on their roof-top
terraces, out of fear of being attacked," said Chávez.
"We greatly lament that they are the victims of the
fascist campaigns broadcast by the media," he added.
"If we go to the east, it is to carry a message of
fraternity and love to those who oppose us in the
middle and upper classes. We are not going to wage war
on them; we are building a fatherland."
The crowd shouted wildly when Chávez announced that his
words were being broadcast nationally -- a measure to
which the president frequently takes recourse and which
is reluctantly obeyed by the private TV and radio
stations, which openly support the strike and provide
ongoing coverage in its favor.
The show of support for Chávez, who has the staunch
backing of at least one-fourth of the electorate,
according to most opinion polls, was staged on the eve
of the first meeting in Washington Friday of the
foreign ministers of the "Group of Friends" of
The group, which was set up on Jan. 15, is comprised of
Brazil, Chile, Portugal, Spain and the United States,
and its mission is to help come up with a solution to
the crisis in Venezuela.
The ministers will discuss a proposal set forth this
week by Nobel Peace laureate Jimmy Carter for an
"electoral solution" this year, which could be either
an August referendum to revoke Chávez's mandate or a
constitutional amendment that would allow early
elections to be called.
The governing coalition also received backing from a
Constitutional Court decision that ruled that the
people can only rebel against the government during a
dictatorship, and not against their democratically
Since October, dozens of officers without troops at
their command, who were involved in a brief coup d'etat
against Chávez in April last year, have declared
themselves in "civil disobedience" in a public square
However, most members of the armed forces support the
The strike has led to severe shortages in basic goods
and fuel, many schools are closed, and sectors like
industry, agribusiness, shopping malls, department
stores, international franchises, the media,
construction and advertising have lost billions of
"Venezuela is experiencing the greatest economic
contraction in its history, of at least 20 percent,"
said businessman Robert Bottome, with the Veneconomía
On Wednesday, the Central Bank, which holds more than
80 percent of the foreign currency that enters the
country, mainly the product of oil exports, suspended
foreign exchange trading until Jan 29.
"We are establishing foreign exchange controls to
strengthen the international reserves, defend the
bolivar and fuel economic and social recovery," said
Chávez in a message to the nation late Wednesday.
The measure is "a temporary one, aimed at resolving
short-term problems, in response to the effects of the
irrational and absurd action taken by the oil industry
since December," said Finance Minister Tobías Nóbrega.
The ministry of Energy and Mines reported earlier this
month that the losses to the oil industry caused by the
strike already totaled four billion dollars.
But sources with the ministry told IPS Thursday that
"the figure may be twice that, if we don't only count
the revenues we have stopped receiving, but also the
costs of getting, at least partially, the industry's
infrastructure operating again."
Copyright (c) 2003 OneWorld.net. Copyright (c) 2003
Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.
Venezuela's opposition ignores the Constitution
Francisco Jose Moreno
Christian Science Monitor
(AGOURA, CALIF.)Those trying to end the rule of Hugo
Chavez as president of Venezuela are having a very
difficult - and protracted - time of it.
Coup and strike notwithstanding, the opposition has had
no success because it has been unable to convince the
world that the unwillingness to abide by Venezuela's
laws and Constitution represent a defense of, not an
attack on, democracy.
The opposition claims that Mr. Chavez is a dictator
aiming for totalitarian control. But this jars with the
complete political and journalistic freedom enjoyed in
the country. The Chavez regime does not take political
prisoners (unless they break the law, such as those who
tried to oust him in April) and the local press is
openly and militantly antigovernment.
The opposition also asserts that the struggle against
Chavez is purely political, devoid of social or racial
overtones. This is difficult to reconcile because the
president's strongest support is among poor and mixed-
race Venezuelans and the opposition is largely white and
The arguments put forward by the anti-Chavez militants
and their professed commitment to freedom and democracy
don't tally with their willingness to disregard their
Constitution and forgo traditional elections. They claim
that if Chavez remains in power until the elections, in
2006, he'll either irreparably damage the economy or
somehow make his rule permanent.
But this professed inability to defend their interests
and forward their views in the regular give-and-take of
politics rings hollow. Chavez's popularity has indeed
diminished substantially since his election; the most
reliable Venezuelan pollster Alfredo Keller puts it now
at 36 percent. As the president's popularity decreases,
and as long as he keeps operating within the legal and
democratic framework, an equally legal and democratic
opposition representing the majority of the population
should have no difficulty making its preferences felt
through the existing electoral system.
The Venezuelan opposition is no political orphan.
Businesses, the privately owned-media, organized labor,
and the traditional political parties are all solidly in
its ranks. Even without waiting for 2006, the opposition
has a multitude of legal and political means to make its
power felt. No government can effectively function
without the active collaboration of all the interests
and institutions it represents.
The opposition's unwillingness to abide by the electoral
timetable seems less than true concern for freedom and
democracy. Given the global influence of US interests
and the strategic importance of Venezuelan oil, there is
little chance that Venezuela would be allowed to go the
way of Cuba. So what's really at stake, what the
opposition is trying to impede, isn't the
"radicalization" of the country, or the emergence of a
totalitarian dictatorship, but the threat that Venezuela
will no longer be in the hands of those who controlled
it during the past 30 years of corrupt politics and
inept economic policies. And Chavez's electoral
victories - winning the presidency, calling for a new
Constitution, winning a congressional majority - came as
direct reactions to that previous state of affairs. But
many of those now leading the opposition were active
participants in the misgoverning and ineptness that made
Chavez possible, and they fear losing the sway they've
The opposition has been totally silent about what it
advocates for the future, how it plans to avoid
repeating the past. It's silent because it can't speak
with one voice. Its ranks range from the
ultraconservative association of industrialists to
Bandera Roja, a radical leftist group that opposes
Chavez not because he is undemocratic, but because he is
If both government and opposition were truly committed
to the rule of law, a compromise between their more
moderate elements should not be hard to achieve. Chavez
claims he wants to work within the legal structure; the
opposition is doing itself, and Venezuela, no favor by
refusing to follow suit.
* Francisco Jose Moreno, a political economist who has
advised Latin American leaders - including two
Venezuelan presidents prior to President Chavez - is
president of the Strategic Assessments Institute, a
think tank specializing in politics and economics.
Back to Main News Page
State to save billions on software
Crippling licence fees will be avoided by using free
Information Technology Editor
WHEN Microsoft introduced a new licensing model for its
software late last year, simmering resentment within
government finally boiled over.
For months the State IT Agency had winced at the
incessant expense of buying software licences for
hundreds of thousands of staff spread across government
departments. Now the agency has declared that it will
ditch expensive brand name software in many cases and
switch to opensource alternatives.
The move should save at least R3bn a year, says agency
chief information officer Mojalefa Moseki. The policy
should also help to create a new generation of
programmers skilled in developing their own
The beauty of open-source software is that its
underlying code can be accessed so that end users can
modify it to suit their needs or build new applications.
Equally compelling for cashstrapped governments is that
many of the programs are free, with suppliers making
their money by supporting the systems.
"Government spends close to R3bn a year on software
licences alone," says Moseki. With support and upgrade
costs added, the total bill was a punishing R9,4bn last
year. "Barely a cent of that is spent in SA because all
the companies like Microsoft, Sun, IBM and Lotus are
multinationals, so the money goes abroad. SA is a
consumer of software, but we can develop it ourselves."
Moseki says the small-scale introduction of open-source
in some departments has already saved R10m. To make sure
a fullscale switch is sustainable, the agency will work
with universities and private companies and set up a
resources centre with the Council for Scientific and
Industrial Research (CSIR) to help develop programming
SA has a pool of very talented software developers, and
government's commitment to open- source will create an
opportunity for them to flourish, he believes.
CSIR CEO Sibusiso Sibisi agrees. "Our ultimate goal is
to stimulate the birth of companies and an entire
industry based on open source software," he said.
Arguments that open-source software is too unstable to
run mission-critical systems are proving groundless as
the technologies have improved steadily, driven by
talented developers eager to break free from costly
Governments in France, Germany and Peru are advocates of
open-source, along with the state authorities in
The growing tide has persuaded companies including Sun
and IBM to offer open-source, knowing they can still
make money on the hardware to run it and ancillary
Moseki says the departments using open-source software
in SA have seen increased security and more up-time, as
the software is supported internally with no need to
call in an outside company to resolve any problems.
Microsoft stands to lose heavily from government's move,
although it will not specify how much business it earns
from the state. And last year it launched a project to
give free software to all 32000 government schools.
Last week the company followed up with the surprise news
that it will open its source code to governments
worldwide so they can enhance the security of its
software. That is a calculated move to entrench its
position in government markets. But Microsoft's move has
come too late to affect the agency's decision.
"The logic for open-source is so compelling that after a
year of debates we decided to stop talking and declare
government an open-source zone," says Moseki.
Microsoft's country manager Gordon Frazer argues that
governments must evaluate each application individually
rather than routinely opt for open-source over
"It's a very popular technology today, but ultimately
it's not a sustainable business model. What happens when
the developers who find it exciting today move on to
something which will pay the bills?"
He says there are higher expenses for the management,
upgrading and security of opensource software.
And while government's idea of training open-source
developers is admirable, it will not create new jobs but
will simply replace thousands of existing jobs for
people who now work with proprietary software, he
Jan 20 2003 12:00:00:000AM Lesley Stones Business Day
INTERVIEW 'Open source key to Africa's development'
January 23 2003 - As the world prepares for the World
Summit on the Information Society in Geneva next month
Tectonic caught up with Bildad Kagai to discuss the
progress being made on the formation of the Open Source
Foundation for Africa(OSFA), to be launched at the
summit. Kagai is a member of the interim Open Source
Taskforce for Africa tasked with setting up the OSFA.
Tectonic: What is the Open Source Foundation for Africa?
Bildad Kagai: It all started during the ICT policy and
civil society workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, when 82
participants from 25 different countries invited by the
Association for Progressive Communications(APC), Article
19 and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
(UNECA) assembled to discuss ICTs in Africa. The
workshop participants agreed that open source software
is paramount to Africa's progress in the ICT arena, and
began work on a coordinated approach to support open
source development, distribution and integration.
In Africa, we see the value of open source in broad
terms. Open source guarantees us opportunities to
develop local programs built by Africans for use in
Africa. We are working with educators to introduce open
source into schools, where young people can learn to
use, maintain, modify and improve computer software. We
envision a future in which governments and the private
sector embrace open source software and enlist local
experts in adapting and developing appropriate tools,
applications and infrastructures for an African
We foresee South-to-South cooperation in which students
from Ghana to Egypt and Kenya to Namibia develop
programs that are then adopted by software gurus in
Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda. We see an opportunity
for Africa de-colonizing itself and narrowing the
The goal is to develop African products that serve an
African market using African expertise. In some places,
this is just beginning to happen. The question is: will
the large-scale vision remain just a dream, or can we
generate real action, real momentum?
The task force is working towards establishing an
independent institution - the Open Source Foundation for
Africa - at the WSIS(World Summit on Information
Society) PrepCOM II meeting in Geneva in February, 2003.
T: Who will fund OSFA?
During the workshop in Addis Ababa, a task force on open
source in Africa was created. The task force has
embarked on activities that will foster an enabling
environment, a supporting infrastructure, and a
connected community. The taskforce is comprised of
Lawase Akpolou - SchoolNet Africa - South Africa
Milton Aineruhanga - Wougnet - Uganda
Tunji Lardner - WangoNet - Nigeria
Joris Komen - SchoolNet - Namibia
Gideon Hayford Chonia - University of Zurich -
Adebayo Oyewole - ICT Consultant - USA
Idile Osman Ahmed - ONG - Djibouti
Abigail Thompson - Ghana
Ousmane Sy - Keneya Blown - Mali
Bildad Kagai - Circuits and Packets Consulting - Kenya
Eric Osiakwan - Internet Research - Ghana
Peter Benjamin - Association for Progressive
Communications - South Africa
Tamela Hultman - All Africa Global Media - Mauritius/USA
Philipp Schmidt - Bridges.Org - South Africa
OSFA will seek support from governments, donors and its
friends interested in seeing open source take roots in
T: You say that open source software is paramount to
Africa's progress. Why?
BK: Africa can no longer afford to pay huge amounts of
monies in terms of licenses, training or maintenance of
software which does not have the capacity of promoting
local expertise development. Such resources should be
directed to training Africans in software development
that works for them and this can only be achieved
through open source as opposed to proprietary software.
The sense of ownership and the zeal to further improve
locally developed softaware is the key advantage of open
source software. Open Source also allows for
localisation, africanisation and uniform spread across
Africa as opposed to proprietary software which is
"locked" and does not allow for adaption to the needs of
BK: The state of IT-readiness is different simply
because they (Europe and US) are ahead while Africa is
just starting. The challenges they went through will be
the same for us with the advantage that we will be able
to learn quickly from their experiences and avoid
tumbling into the same problems. In the current state of
affairs, this is a win-win situation for Africa. ie. It
cannot get worse than it is.
T: Should African governments play a more significant
role in promoting the use of open source as a viable and
and cheaper alternative to proprietary software?
BK: Governments being the heaviest consumers of ICTs
hold the key to the success or failure of the work of
the Foundation. Apart from directing the using open
source, they should also put up policies that enable its
development from high school level upwards to allow
local expertise to grow.
T: How important is it to teach open source to children
at school level from a young age?
BK: This is the only way we can be able to develop local
software programmers. Children should be exposed to open
source as early as possible so that it can be a career
choice just like medicine, engineering or teaching.
T: Does OSFA plan to be a policy and framework
organisation or will it be actively sponsoring open
source software projects
BK: OSFA needs to do both to prosper.
T: Where on the continent is open source starting to
South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and Namibia have established
themselves whilst Tanzania, Djibouti and Ethiopia are
examples of countries that need to start as soon as
T: How can Africans get involved in the OSFA?
We have called for Africans interested in involvement to
register with us at our portal
http://osfa.allafrica.com. However, proper procedures
will be put in place when the Foundation is launched in
Back to Main News Page
Release No. 0017.03
Alisa Harrison (202) 720-4623
USDA ANNOUNCES EXTENSION FOR FARMERS IN THE PIGFORD CONSENT DECREE TO SEEK
PRIORITY CONSIDERATION ON NEW LOANS
WASHINGTON, January 16, 2003 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture today said it continues to make
progress on strengthening civil rights policies and actions and announced its decision to extend for a
period of one year the time for farmers in the Pigford v. Veneman Consent Decree (formerly Pigford v.
Glickman) to seek priority consideration on applications for future farm loans and other relief. This action
provides more time for farmers to consider options under the 1999 civil rights settlement between USDA
and African-American farmers.
"The steps announced today are part of the Bush Administration's ongoing commitment to ensuring fair
and equitable treatment of all producers and assisting minority and disadvantaged farmers," said
Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman. "USDA has made important progress on strengthening civil rights.
We will continue to move forward and build coalitions to ensure progress continues and results are
achieved that ensure fairness and equity for all USDA customers and employees."
Under the terms of the Consent Decree, in addition to monetary relief, farmers who prevail under the
Decree's claims process are entitled to certain injunctive relief, including priority consideration on a future
application for a farm loan under certain circumstances, priority consideration on an application for
inventory property, and having all of their farm loan applications viewed in a light most favorable to the
farmer. All prevailing farmers also are ensured to receive adequate technical assistance in conjunction with
any application for a farm loan.
The Consent Decree provides that this relief expires on April 14, 2004, five years after the Consent
Decree was approved. However, the Consent Decree claims process has gone on longer than anticipated
when the Decree was approved because of the unanticipated number of claims. Many farmers who would
not be receiving final decisions on their claims until shortly before the relief expires will not be able to
take advantage of this relief. Accordingly, USDA has decided to extend the time for prevailing farmers to
take advantage of this relief for an additional year. This is not required by the Consent Decree nor
directed by the court. Prevailing farmers will now have until April 14, 2005 to take advantage of this relief.
In addition to this extension of relief, USDA is today announcing that farmers who would have received
debt forgiveness under the Consent Decree had their debts not been previously discharged will not be
barred from applying for future loans because of the previous discharge.
These actions are in addition to steps USDA has recently announced. On Tuesday, President Bush
nominated Vernon Parker, a pastor, community leader and experienced legal counsel, to be USDA's
Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. The assistant secretary is charged with ensuring compliance with all
civil rights and related laws by all agencies and under all programs of the Department: enforcing and
coordinating compliance with all civil rights laws; ensuring that USDA has measurable goals for fair and
nondiscriminatory treatment; and compiling and disclosing data used in assessing civil rights compliance
in the socially disadvantaged farmer program.
In September of 2002, Veneman announced a series of steps to assist minority and disadvantaged
farmers, including increased technical assistance, outreach, and timely loan processing. Most notably, the
Secretary announced a new Farm Service Agency (FSA) Action Plan that sets forth concrete steps FSA is
taking to assist minority and disadvantaged farmers. Veneman also announced the creation of the Office
of Minority and Socially Disadvantaged Farmer Assistance to work with minority and socially disadvantaged
farmers who have concerns and questions about loan applications they have filed in their County Offices.
For more information on USDA's civil rights policies and actions, contact 202-720-4623 or visit
Back to Main News Page
Gap Between Rich and Poor Grows:
Fed Report Details Families' Income Situations
By Albert B. Crenshaw
Thursday, January 23, 2003
The rising economic tide of the late 1990s lifted the
boats of almost all American families but also sharply
increased the wealth gap between the rich and the rest
of society, according to a survey released yesterday by
the Federal Reserve.
The benefits of the soaring stock market and the tight
labor market were felt both at the top and far down the
economic ladder as the median income among the poorest
families jumped 14.4 percent between 1997 and 2000. The
median for black families rose more than twice as fast
as the median increase for all American families, which
was 9.6 percent.
The net worth of most families -- the value of their
assets minus their debts -- also rose strongly, with
the median climbing 10.4 percent, to $86,100, over the
three-year survey period. Among blacks it rose 13.1
percent, to $19,000 from $16,800.
But the net worth of the wealthiest families climbed
even more. The median among those in the top 10 percent
leapt to $833,600 from $492,400, while the mean soared
to $2.26 million, from $1.68 million three years
before. These families' median income leapt 19.3
percent, to $169,600, during the same period. The
median is the midpoint for a group; the mean is the
The Fed's Survey of Consumer Finances, conducted every
three years since 1983, is one of the most detailed
looks at the financial condition of American families.
The one released yesterday was based on more than 4,000
interviews conducted in the latter half of 2001 and
contains data on assets held by families at that time
and on their income in the previous calendar year.
Fed officials acknowledged that much has changed in the
economy since the interviews, with the stock market
plunging and unemployment rising. One Fed economist
involved in the study noted that employment is a key
driver of income, especially at the lower end of the
economic ladder. Thus it is not clear whether the gains
achieved by lower-income families in the period covered
by the survey remain in place.
The study examines not only income, but families' net
worth, saving and investment patterns, debts, and
banking habits. The data is of great interest to
researchers in and out of government who study what is
going on at the individual level of the economy.
Among the study's findings:
The number of American families owning stock, either
directly or through mutual funds, retirement accounts
or other indirect means, topped 50 percent. This was up
from about a third at the beginning of the 1990s and is
the highest level ever recorded by this series of
surveys, as well as by a 1963 Fed study that looked at
the same issue. It may be the highest level ever,
though Fed economists said data from the 1920s is
Even after their gains, median income of the poorest
20 percent of families was only $10,300, up from $9,000
three years earlier, and the net worth of these
families rose only to $7,900, from $6,300. The median
income for black families was $25,500, compared with
$21,200 in 1997.
Despite the gains by blacks, non-whites and Hispanics
together fared much worse than whites. Hispanic
families' median income declined to $24,700 from
$25,600, and median net worth rose only to $11,300,
from $10,700. Fed officials cautioned that the numbers
might be skewed by the way Hispanics identified
themselves in the survey, since their study came up
with fewer Hispanics than did the 2000 U.S. census,
which asked more probing questions about ethnic origin.
Fed economists said it is possible that some Hispanics
did not identify themselves as such, perhaps resulting
in what appeared to be a larger number of lower-income
Families' debt grew rapidly over the three years in
the survey, but assets grew more rapidly, resulting in
a decline in the ratio of debt to assets. The survey
found that debt equaled 12.1 percent of assets, down
from 14.3 percent in 1998. The decline is by far the
largest since 1992, the survey found. The share of
families with "home-secured debt" -- a mortgage, home-
equity or similar loan -- rose slightly, to 44.6
percent, but rising home prices outran their increase
in debt, so owners' equity rose as well. Median home
equity among those with home-secured debt rose 9
percent, to $58,100, in 2001, from $53,300 in 1998.
The share of families borrowing on credit cards rose.
The increase was small, 0.3 percentage points, but it
ended a decline that began in 1995 and shaved three
full points off the proportion of families borrowing on
plastic. In addition, credit card borrowing rose only
among middle- and lower-income families; for higher-
income families, it fell. The average balance among
those borrowing on plastic was $1,900, unchanged from
The number of families without a checking account
declined slightly, to 12.7 percent from 13.2 percent.
Asked why, 28.6 percent of those families said they
didn't write enough checks to make it worthwhile, while
22.6 percent said they do not like dealing with banks.
Several private analysts cautioned against drawing
overly optimistic conclusions from the Fed data.
William G. Gale of the Brookings Institution noted that
while "the gains of the 1990s were real," the longer-
term comparisons in the Fed report went back only to
1992. Looking back to the 1989 survey, he said, would
make some of them less impressive.
"There was a big drop in wealth from 1989 to 1992 . . .
and for a couple of age groups the current numbers are
not that much better than they were in 1989," he said.
Gale also noted that while the survey provides data on
how many families own stock, it does not show how much
they own. "Although it's true that more and more people
hold some stock, it's also true that the vast
proportion of stock is concentrated in a relatively
small portion of the population," he said.
Changes in the nation's pension system may also be
causing wealth figures to appear to rise more than they
have. The value of workers' rights in traditional
pensions are not included in the wealth figures, in
part because they are so difficult to value. But 401(k)
and other types of plans are included. Thus, if a
worker's company switches from a traditional pension to
a 401(k), the worker might seem wealthier in the survey
though in fact he has simply substituted one pension
asset for another.
Some experts also found the leap in wealth among the
Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute noted
that in 1992, the net worth of the families in the top
10 percent was 13 times that of the families in the
next-to-lowest 20 percent.
That ratio was about the same in 1998, he said, but by
2001 it had climbed to 22.4.
"I think the increase in inequality that's evident in
this report is really pretty alarming. It should really
alert those who are thinking about implementing
aggressive tax policies right now," he said. "This
report should tell you we've got enough inequality in
the system now without aggressive tax cuts."
Back to Main News Page
Economics For the People
Kari Lydersen, AlterNet January 14, 2003
Viewed on January 20, 2003
George W. Bush wants to give a big gift to the rich. One that will cost the
country $600 billion over 10 years, even as we are preparing to pour billions
into the war against Iraq, and social programs that serve the poor and working
people are being cut right and left. It should come as no surprise.
Even so, eyebrows were raised by the "economic stimulus" proposal that Bush
unveiled Jan. 7 during a speech to the Economic Club in Chicago. The Wall Street
Journal called it "audacious." Labor, community and anti-war groups are calling
it unethical, unworkable ... and typical.
But a wide-ranging coalition of organizations across the spectrum snapped
into place almost immediately after the announcement by releasing various
alternative stimulus plans. A multi-faceted campaign to defeat Bush's proposal
and promote the tenets of the alternate plans is quickly being cemented.
The House Democrats have already offered their own stimulus plan, which
labor and progressive groups agree is worlds better than Bush's. But most say
the Dems' plan could do more to adequately address escalating economic problems,
assuage state deficits and protect the health and security of poor and working
The AFL-CIO, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and ACORN (Association of
Community Organizations for Reform Now) are just a few of the groups that have
published their own plans. Citizen lobbying drives that are targeting Democrats
and possible swing Republican voters in Congress are already underway, and
various groups say public rallies and other actions are also in the works. The
Campaign for America's Future said its action Web site (theretheygoagain.com)
got more than 5,000 people to send letters directly to their Congressmen,
becoming the group's most popular campaign just two days after being launched.
"There will be accountability sessions, protests and rallies around the
country," said Roger Hicky, co-director of the Campaign for America's Future.
"Especially in areas where Democrats might be tempted to vote with the president
or where moderate Republicans might be convinced to vote against it."
Hicky noted that the coalition of groups working against the plan includes
unions, community organizations and anti-war groups.
"We have a long history of bringing together labor, environmentalists,
senior citizens," he said. "And groups educating about the war in Iraq can also
make the point that any war will worsen the economy and raise oil prices,
meaning more economic dislocation. It's another reason not to go to war."
The opposition groups and various pundits are united in their criticism of
Bush's plan for both its focus on benefiting the wealthy and its overall
Bush's plan does include some aspects that would benefit average people,
like an increased child tax credit, an end to the "marriage tax" and extended
unemployment benefits. Hickey points out, however, that none of these measures
helps the many poor people who pay no taxes, unemployed people, or those who
earn a living in the informal economy.
Over half of Bush's plan revolves around cutting taxes on stock dividends.
While Bush has tried to portray this as a policy that would affect most of the
population and pump vast amounts of money into the economy, the reality is that
only a small elite would reap any significant benefit from the cut. A large
percent of the population doesn't own any stock at all, and even those who do
have small enough amounts that the dividends cut would provide a benefit of no
more than a few hundred dollars. Stock held in nontaxable 401(k)s and other
retirement plans, the most common form of holdings for working people, would not
be affected at all.
"I don't own stock and I know most of my neighbors don't," said Sonia
Merchant-Jones, an ACORN member in Baltimore who plans to visit D.C. to lobby
against Bush's plan. "I wish we had money to invest in stock, but we're just
busy making ends meet."
According to Citizens for Tax Justice, the wealthiest 1 percent of
taxpayers, who make over $356,000 a year, will get 50 percent of the benefit of
eliminating the dividends tax.
Merchant-Jones, who has been on disability since exposure to dust and
chemicals in the course of her job inspecting public housing high-rises
exacerbated her asthma to dangerous levels, said she would be helped by the
child tax credit and the extended unemployment benefits. But she sees those as
only "crumbs" compared to the "whole loaf" that Bush is giving the wealthy.
"The president never really helps poor people," she said. "He just gives
something but takes something else away."
Not only is Bush's favoritism toward the rich morally questionable, it is
not likely to boost the economy much. Despite claims that the proposal would
create jobs through consumer demand, the fact is the wealthiest portion of
society is the least likely to actually spend this extra income anytime soon.
They will reinvest most of it, but if working class and middle-class people were
given a break, they would immediately return most of the benefit to the economy
by purchasing needed goods and services and modest luxuries.
"The wealthy are not likely to change their buying habits in response to a
tax cut, but the rest of us tend to spend whatever tax cuts we receive, thus
stimulating the economy," says a statement from the Campaign for America's
And the positive effects Bush's plan would have won't even kick in until
after it is no longer direly needed, since 90 percent of the elimination of tax
dividends won't occur until after 2003, according to the Center on Budget and
Bush's plan could also be devastating for already strapped state budgets,
eliminating $4 billion or more from state tax revenues but replacing that amount
with only $3.6 billion which is specifically earmarked for a new program called
Personal Re-employment Accounts.
States are already being called on by federal mandates to increase spending
on Medicaid, homeland security and various social programs, so essentially
Bush's plan would force them to try to do more than ever with fewer resources.
What falls through the cracks in this impossible equation will be health care
and education for the working and poor.
Most of the alternative plans take all these factors into account, calling
for stimulus packages that focus on the working and poor, have an immediate
effect, and address state budget deficits. The Campaign for America's Future
developed five talking points based on the alternative plan proposed by EPI
director Dr. Lawrence Mishel. They say a workable plan must be effective at
generating jobs and growth. It must be fiscally responsible and it must not
worsen deficits in the long run. It should take effect immediately. It should
also be fair -- "not just favoring the rich or making the tax code less
progressive" -- and it should "target unmet needs."
The EPI plan would use temporary tax cuts and spending measures to rapidly
create new jobs and income by generating more consumers.
Its two main elements are a one-time $110 billion expenditure on grants to
states to be used for health, education, school repair and other services along
with an extension of federal unemployment benefits; and a one-time wage bonus
worth $65 billion and benefiting 149 million workers. The bonus would rebate 3.5
percent of a worker's first $15,000 in wages, meaning someone earning $15,000 a
year would get a $525 rebate.
"Any stimulus involving permanent increases or tax cuts will adversely
affect the government's future fiscal position," writes Mishel, whose plan has
been widely lauded and credited with influencing the Democrats' proposal. "A
stimulus package that is both effective and fiscally prudent must consist of new
but temporary spending, coupled with an immediate but temporary tax cut in the
form of a wage bonus. Such measures will boost demand for goods and services,
generating more customers and leading businesses to invest and increase
The ACORN plan calls for raising the minimum wage and instituting tax cuts
for regular working people, while also addressing affordable housing and
protection from foreclosures, expanding Medicaid for unemployed workers, and
affordable energy. Among other things, it calls for Bush to release $300 million
in emergency funding for the Low Income Home Assistance Energy Program (LIHEAP),
which the president has so far refused to do despite rising fuel costs and cold
The AFL-CIO plan also includes raising the minimum wage, developing payroll
tax rebates that will benefit all workers, and giving money directly to states
to help them meet deficits and federal mandates. The AFL-CIO is also calling for
more extension in unemployment benefits than Bush has offered. It notes that his
13-week extension only applies to people currently becoming unemployed; they
want it to be applied retroactively to already unemployed people.
"We feel there are two powers in the economy," said Kathy Roeder,
spokesperson for the AFL-CIO. "The state deficits and a lack of demand in the
economy. Our agenda for what economic stimulus should look like is a lot
different than the president's. We would like to see a plan where money is
actually put into the hands of workers who will spend it."
Kari Lydersen is a freelance journalist based in Chicago.
Back to Main News Page
Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2003 17:38:54 -0800 (PST)
From: Mike Ramey <email@example.com>
Subject: Don't sweat those 'Hispanic' Numbers...
I saw that news, too. Just like you did about the
Hispanic population being 'larger' than ours. Funny
that in 3 to 5 years, the Hispanics will be just
another memory for seven very clear reasons:
1) Anglos can't crack the 'code' of their language.
2) Much of that number does NOT count illegals.
3) Hispanics take their money and shovel it back into
their communities, and their families that are still
outside of the states....just like migrant farmworkers
do, from one part of the country to the other.
4) Hispanic family life is male dominated...they won't
put up with feminization.
5) Hispanics are mainly catholic, while Blacks are
mainly protestant. The big denominations will be
recruiting us like crazy once they figure this out.
6) Hispanics can slip in and out of the country almost
at will, as the Mexican border should have an 'Open 24
Hours' sign on it.
7) Hispanic children still speak in Spanish and keep
their culture to themselves. Anglos haven't figured
out a way to steal it...but that time is coming.
No, I wouldn't sweat it. Notice that the 'white folks'
have gained in population. Funny, how one agency can
undercount us, over count them, and count more white
people. Wasn't this the same agency that said that
there would be more people of color in the states by
2000 than white people?
Think about this, before you get excited.
They tried the same thing with us via the Vietnamese
about 20 years ago. It didn't work then, and it won't
work now. Sorry, Black folk are here to stay...and
Hispanics are closer to Black folk than many would
like to admit.
Heaven help the Anglos if we figure out a way to 'hook
up' in business.
Back to Main News Page
The King they still won't talk about
By Derrick Z. Jackson
The Boston Globe
PRESIDENTS AND presidential hopefuls delivered a
kitchen sink of a Martin Luther King Jr. over the
weekend. Democratic candidates talked about King in the
context of Trent Lott, Judge Charles Pickering,
Michigan's affirmative action case, AIDS, criminal
justice, schools, economic disparities, voting, the
Confederate flag, and Africa.
Senator John Kerry of Masschusetts said, ''It's time
for all of us to apply the same sense of consciousness,
the same guts, the same determination, and the same
impatience to change America for the better.'' Senator
John Edwards of North Carolina said, ''Leadership is
more than photo ops with black children.'' Senator
Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut called King a ''modern-
On the Republican side, President Bush, fresh from
throwing bricks at African-Americans with his stance
against affirmative action and his renomination of
Pickering, the softie for a cross burner, found a
forgiving black church in suburban Washington from
which to speak in tongues, issuing such snoozers as,
''There is still a need for us to hear the words of
Martin Luther King.''
By keeping things very black and very parochial
(neither Kerry nor Gephardt reportedly spoke about
affirmative action in Iowa last weekend), some of the
universal and universally challenging words of King
were easily passed over by Bush and trod over lightly
by most of his potential Democratic rivals. All the
issues they raised are important, but the chances of
addressing any of them will dwindle precipitously if
the nation launches a resource-draining war against
Iraq. Bush is rushing toward it. The majority of the
announced Democratic candidates, including Kerry,
Lieberman, Edwards, and Dick Gephardt, voted for Bush's
It is no surprise that none of them had the courage to
quote the King who opposed the Vietnam War. Perhaps
they cannot, because that is the King who risked bitter
disfavor from the White House.
King spoke out against the war because he decided that
''silence is betrayal.'' He said he could not be silent
as Vietnam drained resources from the antipoverty
programs of President Johnson. He said he could not be
silent over the ''cruel irony of watching Negro and
white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together
for a nation that has been unable to seat them together
in the same schools.'' He said he could no longer
tolerate the hypocrisy of the America that wanted angry
black men to put down their Molotov cocktails but
unleashed untold violence on the Vietnamese.
''I knew that I could never again raise my voice
against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos
without having first spoken clearly to the greatest
purveyor of violence in the world today - my own
government,'' King said.
He also said: ''I am as deeply concerned about our
troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that
what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply
the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where
armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are
adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must
know after a short period that none of the things we
claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before
long, they must know that their government has sent
them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more
sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of
the wealthy and the secure while we create a hell for
''Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the
role our nation has taken - the role of those who make
peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up
the privileges and the pleasures that come from the
immense profits of overseas investment. I am convinced
that if we are to get on the right side of the world
revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical
revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift
from a `thing-oriented' society to a `person-oriented'
society. When machines and computers, profit motives
and property rights, are considered more important than
people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and
militarism are incapable of being conquered....
''This business of burning human beings with napalm, of
filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of
injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of peoples
normally humane ... cannot be reconciled with wisdom,
justice, and love. A nation that continues year after
year to spend more money on military defense than on
programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual
death.... Our only hope today lies in our ability to
recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a
sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to
poverty, racism, and militarism.''
When we see our presidential candidates quoting this
King, then we know that they really share King's guts,
determination, impatience. When this part of King
becomes as much a part of the holiday as ''I Have a
Dream,'' then we know that our leaders truly share his
sense of consciousness.
Derrick Z. Jackson'se-mail address is
This story ran on page A15 of the Boston Globe on
1/22/2003. © Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.
Back to Main News Page
A Black Commentator Commentary- Issue Number 26 - January 23, 2003
Condoleezza Rice: The Devil's Handmaiden
Noah thought he had it bad. For 41 days and 41 nights, the Republican Party
rained down racial obscenity upon Black America, beginning with Trent Lott's
December 5 birthday greeting to Strom Thurmond and climaxing on Martin Luther
King's birthday, January 15, when George Bush declared the University of
Michigan law school's affirmative action program unconstitutional. Bush capped
off the holiday weekend with a visit to a Black church, where he tempted the
congregation with faith-based favors. The Queen of the show, Condoleezza Rice,
blew kisses to the crowd - an image that should be etched in memory, raising as
it does the most profound challenge to historical Black political behavior.
If we cannot be moved to revulsion by brazen acts of treason, then we cannot
hope to exercise the power of a coherent political force. Condoleezza Rice is
the purest expression of the race traitor. No polite description is possible.
As a people historically excluded from high titles, Blacks have applauded every
African American "first" as a collective victory. This was a logical and
correct response to the solid wall of white refusal to tolerate the presence of
Black faces in high places. In such circumstances - which still prevail today
in vast swaths of American society - individual advancement actually does
represent a kind of collective triumph. The rule applies, even in areas of
endeavor having little effect on the lives of Black people, in general. Indeed,
the more exclusively white the enclave or activity, the greater the shared
victory once the color line is crossed.
White people invented the rules of this game, and can end it at will. Beginning
in earnest less than a decade ago, and at the urging of Right think-tankers
bent on maintaining white domination, the Republican Party adopted a strategy
of selective, high profile minority appointments. This approach allowed the GOP
to continue to cultivate its core racist base, while reassuring white "swing"
voters that they had not allied themselves with a racist party. Of decidedly
secondary importance was the possibility of finding substantial support among
Black voters. Significantly, the GOP simultaneously downgraded efforts to elect
Black Republicans to Congress. For the party's narrow purposes, an appointive
Black strategy provided large propaganda payoffs at minimal political cost.
His obedient servant
During the six weeks between the birthdays, Condoleeza Rice and, in a related
role, Armstrong Williams, demonstrated the destructive utility of the Black
appointed (or self-appointed) operative. Williams, the multi-media propagandist
and political consultant to the entire Hard Right infrastructure, orchestrated
a contrived confrontation-reconciliation between Black Republicans and party
leadership, thus providing a theatrical catharsis to "heal" the wounds of the
Trent Lott affair. (See "Armstrong Williams' Big Move, January 16.) For this
service, Williams will be amply rewarded as prime contractor for the GOP's
Black appointments and candidate bankrolling apparatus.
Rice's special assignment, far removed from her training as a Sovietologist and
her National Security job description, was to deflect Black anger when George
Bush launched his long-planned assault on affirmative action in higher
Rice was more than willing, having logged 18 years service to the Bush family.
However, the crude racists of Bush's inner circle betrayed Rice and Bush from
the start. They had railed against "reverse discrimination" their entire
political lives, and were incapable of finessing the issue or understanding the
sensitive nature of Rice's mission.
Contemptuous of their own scripts, senior Bush men spun a tale to the
Washington Post ("Rice Helped Shape Bush Decision on Admissions") that gave the
impression that Rice is even more hostile to affirmative action than Bush.
"The officials said Rice, in a series of lengthy one-on-one meetings with Bush,
drew on her experience as provost at Stanford University to help convince him
that favoring minorities was not an effective way of improving diversity on
college campuses," said the January 17 piece.
This was bad spin for all concerned, an inept maneuver that embarrassed the
national security advisor and made Bush seem soft and squishy on race, causing
alarm among his base in the White Man's Party.
Later the same Friday, according to a Reuters report, Rice got permission from
the President to issue her own statement. In this version, it was Rice who had
positioned the President oh so delicately between the opposing pulls of the
Hard Right and Compassionate Conservatism. She was a helpmate, not a harpy.
Rice's opinion was that "race could play a role in college admissions,
endorsing a civil rights principle that President Bush has avoided," Reuters
In fact, the actual White House brief on the Michigan case did not rule out any
and all uses of race in college admissions; Bush's statement to the nation on
King's birthday had been crafted to make it appear that he had taken a position
of blanket opposition. Now, by introducing Rice's clarification of her "own"
opinions, as if in juxtaposition to the President's, the fiction of Rice's
independence was allowed to take root - in the absence of any evidence of real
differences between the two.
Here's how the Reuters story read:
"I agree with the president's position, which emphasizes the need for diversity
and recognizes the continued legacy of racial prejudice and the need to fight
it,'' Rice said in a written statement.
But, she added: "I believe that while race-neutral means are preferable, it is
appropriate to use race as one factor among others in achieving a diverse
White House officials insisted that Rice was not at odds with Bush.
"I could not be more supportive of what the president did. And the way that he
did it, the strong statement that he made about the importance of educational
diversity with racial diversity as an element,'' Rice said earlier in the day.
Rice had never been "at odds with Bush." Together, they had corrected the
initial spin from Bush's mean old boys, who had made Rice appear like a Black
anti-affirmative action dominatrix. Instead, Bush appeared to be acting in
harmony with an independent-minded Black woman whose opinions he happened to
What is most disturbing about this manufactured drama starring a hireling and
her boss is the institutional performance of the corporate media which, acting
on its own imperatives, succeeded in correcting the initial White House spin
blunder while elevating Rice to a totally undeserved status.
Instead of a national discussion on affirmative action, or the merits of the
case that is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, attention was focused on the
opinions of a woman who represents no one besides her patrons. Better the old
days, back in the Forties, when Joe Louis was asked to speak for Black America.
At least he fought his own battles in the boxing ring. Rice, the foreign policy
servant, was treated like an authentic Black leader - a triumph of the GOP's
Black appointive strategy, and a collective insult to every African American.
Ralph Neas, president of the liberal People For the American Way Foundation,
couldn't resist getting into the act, if only to boost the opinions of another
Black Bush appointee who represents no one but himself. "It is very good news
that Condoleezza Rice agrees with Colin Powell's long-standing belief that it
is appropriate to use race as one factor among others in achieving a diverse
student body,'' Neas said.
Neas undoubtedly meant well, but he did Black people no favor. Then again, his
remarks were certainly echoed in Black barbershops and beauty parlors
throughout the nation, over the long King weekend. Republican Black appointive
politics, bearing no relation to democracy or Black self-determination, has
achieved a status in much of the public mind equal to the real politics of
As confirmation, the affirmative action opinions of both Rice and Powell were
elicited on NBC's "Meet the Press" and CBS's "Face the Nation," respectively,
Sunday morning. Rice said that Bush "has come out in exactly the right place."
Powell repeated his support for the University of Michigan's affirmative action
program. Headlines filled the news cycle.
Virtually all of Black elected and institutional leadership as well as every
Democratic presidential contender except the shifty Senator Joe Lieberman
support the Michigan program. Yet Sunday belonged to the two, politely dueling
appointees. As an operative fact, the corporate press conspires with the White
House to present appointed Blacks as an alternative - more newsworthy -
leadership of Black America. It matters little that Powell's views on
affirmative action happen to be closer to those of Black elected leaders and
activists with proven constituencies. Powell was not chosen by Blacks, but by
Bush. His opinion counts for no more than that of Condoleezza Rice.
No place sacred
The old, reflexive Black applause for members of the race who are chosen for
high office, now works against us with a vengeance. The GOP understands the
game and, with the enthusiastic connivance of corporate media, plays it with
increasing skill. Authentic Black opinion, sensibilities and leadership are
relentlessly devalued, even at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden, Maryland
on the day set aside for remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King.
The Associated Press recorded the surprise presidential visit:
Though warmly greeted, Bush's applause paled in comparison to the cheers that
followed Rice's introduction. She smiled and blew kisses to the crowd from her
seat behind Bush.
Authentic Black leadership has done little to impress upon the people that Rice
is the devil's handmaiden, an eager accomplice in Bush's crimes. It is one
thing to bear insults with dignity. It is quite another to cheer about it.
Back to Main News Page
A US Invasion Of Iraq Can Be Stopped
by Stephen Zunes
Foreign Policy In Focus
January 17, 2003
Despite increased preparation for war, there is a growing perception that a
U.S. invasion of Iraq can be stopped.
There is little question that were it not for the anti-war movement, the
United States would have gone to war against Iraq already. It was the
strength of opposition to plans for a unilateral U.S. invasion that forced
the Bush administration to go to the UN in the first place. So far, Iraqi
compliance with the United Nations weapons inspectors has made it extremely
difficult for the administration to proceed with its war plans.
UN Security Council resolution 1441--written by and pushed through by the
United States to strengthen the power of UN inspections and weaken the
ability of Iraq to evade them--was modified before passage so that military
action to enforce the resolution is possible only with explicit Security
Council authorization. In order for such authorization to go forward, Iraq
would have to do something rather brazen and stupid which--while it
certainly cannot be ruled out--has thus far forced a reluctant Saddam
Hussein to cooperate with the new inspections regime.
This does not mean that the Bush administration--which has repeatedly shown
its contempt for international law--would not proceed with an invasion
anyway. In October, the U.S. Congress, with support of both the Republican
and Democratic leadership, granted President Bush the authority to invade
Iraq without UN Security Council authorization. This war resolution was
illegal, however, since such an invasion would violate the United Nations
Charter, which was signed and ratified by the United States; Article VI of
the U.S. Constitution declares such international treaties as "supreme law."
The Bush administration has demonstrated, however, that it does not have
great respect for the Constitution either. What, then, might be able to stop
Again, it would be the strength of anti-war opposition.
Already, a number of Democrats who supported the war resolution and then saw
their party lose miserably in the November elections, are now arguing
against a rush to war. Among their fears is that a resurgent and clearly
anti-war Green Party could capture enough liberal votes to cause the
Democrats' defeat in the 2004 election.
Some top military brass and career officials in the Department of Defense
are quietly but firmly expressing their opposition to the war, recognizing
that an invasion of Iraq would be the most complicated and bloody U.S.
military operation since Vietnam. This, in turn, would strengthen anti-war
opposition further. The Vietnam War taught the U.S. military that it should
not fight in any major war without the backing of the majority of the
Currently, the U.S. military is one of the most respected institutions in
America. It does not want to go back to the days when military recruiters
could not even show up on college campuses without demonstrations breaking
out. As military officials, they will certainly obey the orders of their
commander-in-chief if called into combat. However, the
more anti-war forces grow, the greater the U.S. military will be concerned
about its own institutional self-preservation.
The intelligence wing of the Central Intelligence Agency--unlike the
operations wing--is composed largely of professionals whose concerns are
less ideological. They are focused instead on how to protect American
security. CIA cost/benefit analyses have shown that a U.S. invasion of Iraq
would threaten rather than protect American interests.
In effect, we have the ironic situation where the peace movement finds some
of its most significant allies are the Pentagon and the CIA. These very
influential actors in foreign policy decisionmaking could potentially allow
cooler heads to prevail. Indeed, they are joined in their opposition by top
foreign and defense policy officials from former Republican administrations,
including Lawrence Eagleburger, Brent Scowcroft, and retired General Anthony
There is also the international factor: While a number of America's key
European allies are willing to grant rights to use bases on their soil for
re-supply and to provide other logistical assistance for war against Iraq in
the event of United Nations authorization, they are skeptical about a
unilateral U.S. invasion. Public opinion polls in Europe show scant support
for U.S. military action without UN authorization.
In the U.S., public opinion polls have consistently shown that while the
majority of Americans support a U.S. invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam
Hussein, only a minority support a war without authorization from the United
Nations or active participation of allied militaries, or one that results in
high American casualties. Since all three of these appear very likely, it is
not unreasonable to assert that the majority of the American public opposes
the Bush administration's plans to unilaterally launch a pre-emptive
invasion of Iraq. Indeed, polls have shown support for war declining.
The anti-war movement is strong and is growing. Already, the demonstrations
against a U.S. invasion of Iraq--which hasn't yet happened--have been larger
than those against the Vietnam War during the first three years of heavy
fighting by American soldiers. Anti-war activities on college campuses are
also significantly greater than during that same period. This is
particularly significant since this comes despite the fact that today's
college students do not fear for their personal safety through the draft.
The Roman Catholic bishops and virtually all major Protestant denominations
have come out against a U.S. invasion, whereas it was not until the last few
years of the Vietnam War that so many churches came out with an anti-war
position. While the U.S. labor movement was hawkish to the bitter end of the
Vietnam War, several major labor unions are also now on record in opposition
to a U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The economic impact of an invasion of Iraq--which could costs upwards of
$200 billion and could be significantly more should there be a long-term
U.S. military occupation and administration--has raised serious concerns
among economists and business leaders. As the federal deficit grows,
domestic programs are cut, and states are struggling with unprecedented
deficits, the economic impact of the war could be staggering. On January 13,
a group of Republican businessmen took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street
Journal denouncing the war. And a number of governors facing huge budget
shortfalls have joined the ranks of administration critics.
Today's anti-war movement is far more diverse in terms of women and people
of color in positions of leadership. Increasing numbers of poor and working
class people are becoming involved in anti-war activities, recognizing that
it is their loved ones who will be doing most of fighting and dying and it
is they who will be disproportionately affected by the inevitable cutbacks
in social programs made necessary by this incredibly expensive military
adventure. The diverse age range of the anti-war movement is also a
significant indicator of its strength, blending the experience of activists
from the 1960s and earlier with the energy and creativity of younger
Despite all this, the Bush administration may still decide to forge ahead
with its planned invasion. It is far from inevitable, however, and there are
increasing signs that this war can indeed be stopped before it starts.
(Stephen Zunes <firstname.lastname@example.org> is an associate professor of Politics and
chair of the Peace & Justice Studies Program at the University of San
Francisco. He is Middle East editor for the Foreign Policy in Focus Project
(online at www.fpif.org) and is the author of the recently released book
Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism
Back to Main News Page
Jan 20, 2003
USDA mulls judge's ruling
BY MICHAEL MARTZ
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Will Sylvester Warren had been shunned by white-owned banks and businesses in Southampton County since
speaking out against segregated busing of schoolchildren in 1969.
But the treatment didn't stop him from becoming one of Virginia's most productive peanut farmers, or from
expanding his operations to nearly 800 acres he leased or owned in the county.
Not bad for a man who started farming in 1951 on 104 acres he'd bought from his sharecropping father. Not
bad at all for a black man who couldn't read or write in a county dominated by white farmers and business
owners in Virginia's former slave belt.
One big reason Warren survived and prospered was a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which
helped him in 1970 when no private lender would.
Yet, 22 years later, he accused the USDA of racial discrimination for systematically denying him the loans he
desperately needed to survive.
"I believe I am the victim of an insidious scheme of racial discrimination, designed to cause or to permit
African-American farm- ers in this rural, peanut-rich, southeastern Virginia county, to lose their land to the sons
and grandsons of wealthy white farmers and businessmen in this area," he stated in his 1992 complaint.
It turns out, he was right.
Warren stands to receive more than $6.6 million from the federal government in compensation for 17 years of
discrimination at the hands of USDA officials and the local county committee that administers loans.
The USDA admits the discrimination, which its civil-rights of- fice confirmed in 1999 after a two-year
But the agency has not decided yet whether to accept the decision of Judge Constance T. O'Bryant, an
administrative law judge in the Department of Housing and Urban Development who issued a scathing, 46-page
ruling on Dec. 19.
The department has until the end of next week to decide whether to review the ruling or let it stand.
Black farmers and their advocates are pushing hard for the government to make O'Bryant's judgment a new
standard for compensating victims of discrimination by the USDA.
"This is a watershed decision," said Tom Burrell, president of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists
Association, which includes members in Virginia and 21 other states.
Burrell is among thousands of black farmers who took a different path from Warren in seeking redress from the
government for discrimination. Instead of insisting on administrative relief from the USDA, he is awaiting the
final outcome of a process set up by a consent decree approved in federal court in early 1999.
Now, he calls the consent decree, and the class action lawsuit that led to it, "the ultimate act of discrimination."
James W. Myart, lawyer for the association and a number of black farmers with pending discrimination claims,
said the government should abandon the consent decree and settle all of the discrimination cases with
O'Bryant's ruling in mind.
"The Warren case is typical," he said.
James B. Beverly Jr., president of the association's Virginia chapter, said, "Every farmer should be getting what
Beverly is a Burkeville restaurateur who was forced out of the hog-farming business in 1986 after the
government foreclosed on his farm loans. He lost his hogs and equipment, but not his land in Nottoway County.
Losing their land worries black farmers more than anything, Burrell said. "It's not about discrimination. It's about
expropriation of land."
Strong words, but O'Bryant's ruling confirmed what Warren stated bluntly in 1992. She found that the objective
of the USDA county committee and supervisor "was to deprive Mr. Warren of the financing he needed to
successfully operate his farm with the ultimate goal of forcing Mr. Warren to lose his land."
It's the same conclusion reached by someone who watched it happen, Robert H. Cooley Jr., a retired
Petersburg lawyer who, along with his now-deceased son, Robert H. Cooley III, used to represent Warren.
"He was a successful farmer," recalled Cooley, now 93 and living in Richmond, "and the white farmers down
there tried to put him out of business. . . . They treated him badly."
The USDA's county committee was made up entirely of white farmers, but Warren's farm operation was able
to thrive for more than a decade with help from government operating loans. By the early 1980s, he was
farming 300 acres of soybeans, 250 acres of peanuts and 213 acres of corn, and raising hogs for market.
Warren's illiteracy forced him to rely on the county committee and supervisor, who ran the local office and
approved loans there. Warren later contended he didn't receive the full value of the loans for which he qualified,
and O'Bryant agreed.
After 1984, Warren never received another loan from the USDA, despite successfully appealing repeated
denials of requests for assistance. One loan was denied in 1985 because he hadn't circled an item on the
application. After the decision was reversed on appeal, the request was denied again for not being filed on time.
At the same time, the judge found, "white farmers would come to Mr. Warren wanting to buy his farm. Mr.
Warren had no intention of selling any part of his farm and had given no indication that he was interested in
The worst was yet to come.
Warren's loan requests continued to be denied, reversed on appeal and denied again. In 1991, he was faced
with foreclosure on his farm in Sedley and became delinquent on a small-business loan.
He borrowed money from his sister. Then, that fall, he asked the USDA county supervisor, Ronald Norton, for
permission to sell timber from his land to generate cash. The government had a secured interest on the land, but
Norton agreed orally to let the farm sell the timber, the judge found. The supervisor later denied it.
In December, Warren and his sons cut, hauled and sold the timber to pay off their bills. That same month, he
alleged, for the first time, the USDA was discriminating against black farmers in Southampton and trying to
force him to sell his land. He filed a formal complaint in January 1992 and named Norton in it.
Two months later, Norton demanded an accounting of the timber and alleged Warren had acted without
Cooley's son, Robert III, intervened on behalf of Warren with the director of the USDA's farm program in
Virginia. Cooley said Warren had told him about the conversation with Norton before cutting the timber.
"[Cooley] told him as long as he had obtained the concurrence of Mr. Norton, then he saw no objection,"
O'Bryant wrote. "He regretted having given Mr. Warren that advice, although it was appropriate at the time."
Norton made a finding - for the first and only time in the history of the USDA's farm program in Southampton -
that Warren had acted with a "lack of good faith" in selling the timber without the government's approval. He
also denied Warren's latest request for loan servicing.
Cooley offered a promissory note to restore the money from the timber to the USDA. The government rejected
it. Warren's church offered to pay the bill. The government said it was too late.
Warren was effectively cut off from all USDA assistance. He was an illiterate widower with 14 children. He
lost his leases on some 600 acres. He lost his swine operation. Only one of his children continued to farm.
The judge, in awarding Warren $5 million for emotional suffering alone, mused about how the ordeal had
"He was sad and subdued, seeming almost defeated, with just a flicker of hope," she wrote.
"I find it difficult to imagine that the man who sat within a few feet of me had ever felt the independence and
self-confidence and courage necessary to stand up before a hostile school board meeting and challenge the
white community's resistance to integrate school busing.
"But the evidence shows he did just that. . . . He is still fighting, but the years have taken a toll on him."
Contact Michael Martz at (804) 649-6964 or email@example.com
This story can be found at: http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/MGBF42QS5BD.html
Back to Main News Page
In Washington today, constituents from across the country lobbied
their representatives as part of the national efforts to halt the
drive to war. While millions demonstrated in Washington, San
Francisco, in cities across the United States, and throughout the
world over the weekend, today peace activists called on their
Congressional and Senate representatives for committments to:
* the 2002 war authorization against Iraq should be repealed
* support of continued diplomacy in Iraq.
* pull the Administration back from the brink of war.
The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) distributed the
following information as a resource for peace activists
ACTION: Please contact your representative before Jan. 23.
Urge them to take the following two actions to help pull the
Administration back from the brink of war.
(1) Cosponsor H. Con. Res. 2, calling for the repeal of the war
authorization act against Iraq.
(2) Sign the Brown-Kind Dear Colleague letter urging Pres. Bush to
commit to continued diplomacy and weapons inspections in Iraq. (The
deadline for signing the letter is Jan. 23.)
FCNL LEGISLATIVE ACTION MESSAGE - January 16, 2003
The following action items from the Friends Committee on National
Legislation (FCNL) focus on federal policy issues currently before
Congress or the Administration.
TOPICS: NEW LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVES TO SLOW THE RUSH TO WAR, and
NATIONAL LOBBY DAY TO STOP THE WAR ON IRAQ, JANUARY 21
NEW LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVES TO SLOW THE RUSH TO WAR:
On Jan. 7, Rep. Jackson-Lee (TX) introduced a resolution in the House
(House Concurrent Resolution 2) to express the sense of Congress that
the 2002 war authorization against Iraq should be repealed. Reps.
Kucinich (OH), Lee (CA), Davis (IL) and Watson (CA) cosponsored the
On Jan. 13, Reps. Brown (OH), Kind (WI), Wexler (FL), and Doggett
(TX) circulated a Dear Colleague letter to all members of the House
asking them to sign a letter to Pres. Bush in support of continued
diplomacy in Iraq. The letter asks the President to use the upcoming
State of the Union Address (scheduled for Jan. 28) as an opportunity
to reassure "the American people and the international community that
the United States remains committed to the diplomatic approach and
comprehensive inspections agreed to in UN Security Council resolution
1441." It will be sent to the President on Jan. 24. The text of the
Dear Colleague letter is available at
These two new legislative initiatives in the House offer renewed and
much-needed leadership in Congress to help pull the Administration
back from the brink of war. H. Con. Res. 2 was introduced by members
who took a lead in opposing the White House's war authorization act
last fall. The coalition of representatives who initiated the Brown-
Kind Dear Colleague letter includes members who both supported and
opposed the war resolution. As the Administration continues a massive
military build-up in the Persian Gulf, these congressional calls for
diplomacy in Iraq come at a critical moment. Both legislative
initiatives need strong public and congressional support.
ACTION: Please contact your representative before Jan. 23.
Urge them to take the following two actions to help pull the
Administration back from the brink of war.
(1) Cosponsor H. Con. Res. 2, calling for the repeal of the war
authorization act against Iraq.
(2) Sign the Brown-Kind Dear Colleague letter urging Pres. Bush to
commit to continued diplomacy and weapons inspections in Iraq. (The
deadline for signing the letter is Jan. 23.) If your representative
is already a co-sponsor of the repeal resolution or has signed the
Brown-Kind letter, please express your thanks.
If you are able to participate in the Jan. 21 National Lobby Day to
Stop the War on Iraq (information below), you can ask for these
commitments in person. Or, send an email or fax or phone your member.
MAKE LETTER-WRITING EASIER: Start with the sample letter posted in
our Legislative Action Center, personalize the language, then email
or fax your message directly from our site. You can also print it out
and mail it. To view the sample letter, click on the link below, then
enter your zip code and click <Go> in the <Take Action Now> box. Here
is the link:
BACKGROUND: The introduction of H. Con. Res. 2 and the Brown-Kind
letter reflect continued and growing congressional opposition to the
Bush Administration's war plans in Iraq. Even members who voted for
authorizing U.S. military action against Iraq are expressing deep
concern about the Administration's impatience and lack of commitment
to pursuing a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The U.S. public
and the international community are expressing persistent opposition
to war on Iraq, and weapons inspections are proceeding without
serious obstruction. Yet, the Administration continues to deploy tens
of thousands more troops to the Persian Gulf, is intensifying attacks
in the so-called no-fly zones, and claims the right to wage
unilateral war whenever it deems necessary.
Pres. Bush is expected to use the State of the Union speech on Jan.
28 to announce the next phase of U.S. policy toward Iraq. The weeks
leading up to the speech are a critical time for raising visible U.S.
public opposition to war and pressing our members of Congress to take
leadership roles in moving the country away from war. On Jan. 27 (one
day before the State of the Union), the UN Monitoring, Verification,
and Inspections Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) will make their first official report to the UN
Security Council (UNSC) on the progress of inspections. Inspectors
have said there is "no smoking gun" and that they will need more
cooperation, information, and time to complete their work. U.S.
allies in the European Union and the Middle East are still working
diligently to open space for a peaceful settlement of the crisis.
Congress has an important role to play in ensuring that the
Administration works with the international community to pursue all
peaceful alternatives to war on Iraq. UNSC Resolution 1441, passed
unanimously on Nov. 8, 2002, "requests all Member States to give full
support to UNMOVIC and the IAEA in the discharge of their mandates,"
including providing information to the inspectors to help fulfill
their task of identifying and dismantling any remaining weapons of
mass destruction in Iraq. The Bush Administration, has only just
begun to share information it claims to have with the UN inspectors.
Meanwhile, the Administration is dramatically increasing U.S.
military build-up in the region and is openly planning for post-war
occupation of Iraq. Saddam Hussein will have no reason to continue
complying with weapons inspections if war seems inevitable. Pres.
Bush should publicly commit to full support for UN weapons
inspections to disarm Iraq peacefully and pull back from the brink of
NATIONAL LOBBY DAY TO STOP THE WAR ON IRAQ, JANUARY 21: FCNL and
other national organizations working in coalition to prevent a U.S.
invasion of Iraq have designated Jan. 21 as a National Lobby Day to
Stop the War on Iraq. On Jan. 21, one week before Pres. Bush is
scheduled to give the State of the Union address, groups of concerned
citizens will be meeting with members of Congress in their local
offices across the country to ask them to help pull Pres. Bush back
from the brink of war. Congress will be in recess during that week,
and most members will be home in their districts. Face-to-face visits
are the most effective means for communicating your concerns. To find
out more and get involved, go to
Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121 or 800-839-5276
Sen. ________ U.S. Senate Washington, DC 20510
Rep. ________ U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515
Information on your members is available on FCNL's web site:
CONTACTING THE ADMINISTRATION White House Comment Desk: 202-456-1111
FAX: 202-456-2461 E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org WEB PAGE:
President George W. Bush The White House Washington, DC 20500
Back to Main News Page
Absolutely, Positively for Capital Punishment
By David Firestone (New York Times, Section 4, January 19, 2003
WASHINGTON: No one was surprised when prosecutors and families of
crime victims denounced Gov. George Ryan of Illinois for commuting
the death sentences of 167 prisoners last weekend. But some of the
loudest voices condemning the Republican's decision came from a
less-expected quarter: Democratic politicians, including several
candidates running for the party's presidential nomination.
Rod R. Blagojevich, the Democrat who succeeded Mr. Ryan as governor
on Monday, said the clemency was "terrible" and a "gross injustice."
Gov. Gray Davis of California made it clear he would never consider
a similar action. And Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut,
who entered the presidential race last week, issued a bitter
"Governor Ryan's action was shockingly wrong," Mr. Lieberman said in
an interview on Friday. "It did terrible damage to the credibility
of our system of justice, and particularly for the victims. It was
obviously not a case-by-case review, and that's what our system is
Four of the seven Democrats who have already joined the presidential
race or are likely to do so have longstanding views supporting the
death penalty and have not changed their positions because of the
circumstances in Illinois. Along with Mr. Lieberman, the group
includes Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, Senator Bob Graham
of Florida and Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri.
Of the seven, only the Rev. Al Sharpton opposes the death penalty,
as he has done for years. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts
supports it in the case of convicted terrorists, and Howard Dean,
the former governor of Vermont, supports it for murderers of
children or police officers.
Many advocates who have worked against the death penalty say that at
a time when the country could be reconsidering the issue, the
Democratic Party is hampered by its liberal reputation - even as
prominent figures on the right, including William F. Buckley Jr.,
Pat Robertson and Representative Henry J. Hyde, have begun to voice
concerns about capital punishment in light of the growing number of
innocent inmates released from death row.
In the view of these advocates, many Democrats fear being painted as
soft on crime in a way that crippled Michael S. Dukakis in 1988. The
Republican Party has long favored execution and can point to
national opinion polls showing three-quarters of Americans
supporting capital punishment.
"We understand that a lot of Democrats are fearful of being
`Dukakised' on this issue," said Dianna Wentz, executive director of
the Moratorium Campaign, a group founded in Louisiana by Sister
Helen Prejean to support the kinds of moratoriums on execution that
now exist in Illinois and Maryland. "In this country, it's still
politically dangerous to say you're opposed to the death penalty.
But our point is that it's not political suicide to come out in
favor of a moratorium."
Some Democrats have begun to take that view. Senator Richard J.
Durbin of Illinois, a supporter of capital punishment, now favors a
national moratorium on executions until questions about fairness are
"I think Governor Ryan has set the stage for an honest debate about
creating safeguards in the legal process," he said last week.
"Because of inequity and injustices involved in the court system, we
need to take a serious national look at death penalty reform, and
until we can get that debate under way I support a moratorium."
But Mr. Edwards told Salon, an online magazine, last week that he
opposed a moratorium, though he said there are issues of racial
fairness and equal access to competent counsel that remain
unresolved. Mr. Graham, who came to prominence in Florida through
his full-throated support for capital punishment, echoed that
thought in a n interview last week.
"The trouble with a moratorium is that it applies to the full
population of death row, where I think the focus should be on a
case-by-case basis," he said. "Apparently, Illinois had some very
egregious practices, but I think in Florida we have a system with
adequate checks and gateposts."
A year ago, however, Juan Melendez walked out of Florida's death row
after new evidence surfaced, and a year before that, another of the
state's death-row inmates was exonerated, 11 months after he had
died of cancer. These kinds of mistakes have cropped up around the
country, which is one reason cited by Mr. Kerry for his support of a
"I'm opposed to the death penalty in the criminal justice system
because I think it's applied unfairly, as even Republican governors
have determined, and because I'm for a worse punishment," Mr. Kerry
said on NBC's "Meet the Press" last month. "I think it is worse to
take somebody and put them in a small cell for the rest of their
life, deprived of their freedom, never to be paroled."
At the moment, the more popular position in both parties is to
support the death penalty while seeking reforms in its application.
Last year, 25 senators, including Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Kerry and Mr.
Edwards, and 249 House members from both parties signed on to the
Innocence Protection Act, which would provide grants to states to
improve legal services for capital defendants, and provide access to
DNA testing for federal inmates who have credible claims of
innocence. Mr. Gephardt was also a co-sponsor.
The bill was blocked by opponents last year who said it infringed on
states' rights, but it will probably be revived this session by its
sponsors, who include Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont,
and Representative Ray LaHood, Republican of Illinois.
Some Democrats, however, expect a few of their leaders to begin
moving toward a moratorium in the coming months. Chris Lehane, a
Democratic strategist who served as press secretary to Al Gore's
presidential campaign, said that large segments of the party's base,
particularly African-Americans, strongly oppose capital punishment,
and that Governor Ryan's action in Illinois may allow them to change
position without being accused of flip-flopping.
"Voters don't support the death penalty if innocent people are being
put to death," said Mr. Lehane, now a private consultant. "But if
you're going to make that change, this is the moment. Do it now and
you look principled. Do it right before the New York primary, and
you look political."
Back to Main News Page
The following letter supporting the nomination of former Congresswoman
Cynthia McKinney was sent to the JFK Library Foundation on January 16, 2003.
We all should forward similar letters and e-mails to them supporting her
nomination. If the decision is made by the number of letters and e-mails and
faxes that come in support, then we should certainly set a record. Please
send your e-mail today to ProfileinCourage@nara.gov
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Profile in Courage Award Committee
John F. Kennedy Library Foundation
Boston, Massachusetts 02125
I would like to nominate former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney for the
Profiles in Courage award. I feel that she not only meets your criteria
but surpasses them. Her courage in addressing issues of social justice
and international relations, as well as civil and human rights also, in
my view, cost her the seat in Congress. Yet she would not yield.
I know of many issues where she took a courageous and principled stand,
but I was personally familiar with two areas:
The Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I worked with Rep. McKinney and her staff to create a "Braintrust" panel
at the annual national Congressional Black Caucus conference on the new
evidence that has emerged in the last few years on the truth about the
murder of Dr. King and the innocence of James Earl Ray. At a time when
others were aware of the evidence and the outcome of the King family's
civil suit which exonerated Ray and pointed the finger to elements of
the US government, Rep. McKinney alone did not remain silent, but
continued to try to hold government accountable for their actions. She
also helped to draft a bill, introduced in the last Congress, to release
all government records on the life and death of Dr. King. These records
will reveal the extent of spying and confrontation aimed at Dr. King by
all branches of the intelligence and police systems, and at the civil
rights movement as a whole. In a time when the COINTELPRO excesses are
being openly renewed by the Justice Department, this history is crucial
for our understanding. Her position was not a popular one with the whole
Congress, who had earlier refused to include Dr. King in the JFK
Assassination Records Act to release files on that murder. But Rep.
McKinney stood on principle, not popularity, as Dr. King hemself had
Questions Surrounding 9/11.
Rep. McKinney was the first member of Congress to ask obvious questions
about the attack on September 11, 2001, which remain unanswered still.
These concerned foreknowledge or the lack of it by US intelligence
agencies and White House officials, the lack of military response during
the attack, and who benefitted from the aftermath. She was greeted with
scorn and calumny for leading on this issue, even though the Congress
and the press began to raise these same questions a few weeks later
without receiving the rancor accorded to her. Again, she persisted and
refused to apologize for asking the obvious. Rep. McKinney called for an
open investigaion on behalf of the victims, their families and the
American public. This is the role of the Congress, yet they have not
fulfilled it to date. This issue, and her stand on the
Palestinian/Israeli conflict seem to have been the triggers for a
concerted, nationally funded effort, led by Gov. Zell Miller in Georgia,
to oust her from office.
I think Rep. McKinney deserves this award more so than other elected
officials because she tried to serve as a real "representative" of the
people of Georgia and the US, asking the hard questions, and persisting
in the face of adversity and defamation of her character. I hope you
will take this nomination seriously and consider her merits.
PO Box 7147
Washington, DC 20044
Washington Peace Center
Coalition on Political Assassinations
Back to Main News Page
January 20, 2003
Sanctions on Zimbabwe: Africa Under Attack
by Connie White (email@example.com)
"The European Union and the American
government have imposed sanctions on
Zimbabwe? What is the main aim of
these sanctions? They are meant to
. . . weaken and remove the regime of
president Robert Mugabe. Like other
actions taken by institutions such as
the International Monetary Fund and
the World Bank, they seek to pressure
and impose a government on the people
of Zimbabwe in the name of 'democratic
Issue #51, Saturday February 3, 2002,
"No Sanctions on Zimbabwe")
In 2002, the fifteen member states of the
European Union decided to impose sanctions on
Zimbabwe. Sanctions are war without guns and
bloodshed, and have limited, if any,
effectiveness for changing behavior or
governments of target countries. (Working
Papers 1997 of the Institute For International
On the other hand, sanctions target to kill
or injure infants, children, the elderly, and
the chronically ill. (Ramsey Clark: Report to
UN Security Council re: Iraq, January 26, 2000)
The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery
Act of 2001, states that U.S. sanctions will
remain in place against the Zimbabwean
"government" [euphemism for "the people"] until
the U.S. president certifies that the "rule of
law has been restored in Zimbabwe, including
respect for ownership and title to property. . .
and an end to. . .lawlessness." The U.S.
government and its imperialist cohorts around
the world are the ones who are "lawless" and
defying the "rule of law" in Zimbabwe. The
Zimbabwean government has declared that it is
against the law in Zimbabwe for 1 percent of
the population in Zimbabwe -- i.e., white
settler colonists -- to own 1/2 of the arable
land, while 95 percent or more of the
population in Zimbabwe are impoverished and
Charles Rangels and Sheila Jackson-Lee of the
Congressional Black Caucus of the Democratic
Party support the lawlessness of the Zimbabwean
White landed gentry and agri-capitalist in that
they backed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic
Recovery Act of 2001. The only thing that
Democratic Party members like Charles Rangels
and Sheila Jackson-Lee are trying to recover
in Zimbabwe are the economic interests of
capital, and to maintain the presence of those
interests in Zimbabwe. The objective is not
"democracy" and "economic recovery" in Zimbabwe.
Let's review the history of Zimbabwe lest we
forget how European White settlers killed,
plundered and stole in order to position
themselves where they are today in Zimbabwe.
A History of the Plunder of Zimbabwe
In 1891, the British government recognized
the South African Company's "investment" in
Zimbabwe, and brokered that company's
expropriation of fertile farmland from the
Shona population. Supported by the military
might of the British crown, the White settlers
who followed Cecil Rhodes to Zimbabwe were
given 3,000 acres of choice farmland, plus 15
gold-mining claims by those who had no right
to give what was not theirs.
The White settlers discovered that no
significant wealth would be discovered in the
gold mines in Zimbabwe and, thus, were granted
6,000 acres of choice farmland by the South
African Company. White settlers continued
unabated in their invasion of Zimbabwe.
Cattle was seized from the native population,
native lands were taken, and the indigenous
people were often forcibly prevented from
plowing and sewing the meager plots of soil
that were left them because of tax collection
and coerced labor in White-owned farms. By
March 1899, the White settlers had seized
15,762,364 acres of choice farmland. ("A
History of Africa: 1840-1914," by Michael
Tidy and Donald Leeming; London: E. Arnold,
The Zimbabwean workers and peasants rebelled
on several occasions. The "Chi Murenga"
rebellion of 1896 was one rebellion that was
brutally crushed by the British. The brutal
treatment of Zimbabwean mine workers culminated
in the enactment of the Master and Servants Law,
which made it a criminal offense to break a
These historical acts of theft and plunder of
African lands are the basis in Zimbabwe today
for what U.S. Democratic Party members like
Charles Rangels and Sheila Jackson-Lee call
the "rule of law." When U.S. Democratic and
Republican Party members call for a "return
to the rule of law" in Zimbabwe, they speak
of a "rule of law" that continues to deny
impoverished Zimbabweans the right to shelter
and to feed themselves and their families.
This "rule of law" of White settlers who
killed, stole and plundered Zimbabwe allows
the ruling class to own the land and control
the economy in Zimbabwe, but also is the basis
for denying the Zimbabwean peasants the land,
which has always been rightfully theirs.
Europe Underdeveloped Africa
The capitalist modes of production in nations
of Europe and North America gobbled up Africa,
which was fractured into colonial states and
settler colonies. The economic modes of
production in the colonies were determined by
the economic polices of the colonizing European
power. Production in the respective colonies
was determined by the colonial power and, for
the most part in Africa, was agricultural
production for export of goods or/and
geologically determined production of raw
materials from natural resources. Thus, a
dialectical power-dependence relationship grew
between the European colonial power and the
developing African economies.
World capitalism developed in the womb of
monarchal feudal states in Europe, and was
personified in the rising merchant capitalist
in the context of competing mercantile systems
and colonial rivalries. These mercantile
systems -- in particular, Britain and France
-- subordinated the colonies to the resources
of the rising capitalist classes. The older
colonial powers like Spain and Portugal were
more looters than producers, and were swept
aside as the rising British Empire was
becoming the dominant global economy.
In this world historical framework, Europe
under-developed Africa. In the midst of the
industrial revolution in England -- which at
once engendered and was engendering the
capitalization of the productive forces, and
the correlating proletarianization of the
peasants from the countryside to the cities
to be a surplus population of destitute
individuals with no means of subsistence --
the conquered economies of the kingdoms of
Africa were -- by way of land expropriations
by the conquerors-- being transformed from
diversified, self-sufficient economies into
productive assets of the capitalist, and
dependent upon the economy and commodities
The depopulation of Africa by the trans-
Atlantic slave trade also retarded Africa's
potential for industrial development. By
becoming dependent upon European industrial
commodities -- e.g., firearms, manufactured
textiles and rum -- the African countries
objectively surrendered political power to
its European colonizer.
Liberation War and the Lancaster Agreement
The party of Robert Mugabe, ZANU-PF, came to
power in 1979 at the time of the Lancaster
Agreement, but left the land and the Zimbabwean
economy in the hands of the same class that
owned the lands and managed the economy prior
to Zimbabwe's independence. ZANU-PF, and
Mugabe, achieved some measure of wealth, power
and privilege in Zimbabwe for the formerly
excluded Black bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie
-- e.g., the Black domestic capitalists. As
owners of the means of production in Zimbabwe,
including the majority of the productive land,
the capitalists -- both Black and White -- run
the enterprises and determine what will be
governmental policy. To wit, the "rule of law"
-- established at the time of the Lancaster
Agreement, and in place until the recent
enactment of the Zimbabwe Land Redistribution
Act -- supports stolen land acquired in the
historical plunder of Zimbabwe remaining in
the hands of the capitalists instead of being
transferred to the Zimbabwean peasants and
workers who are the rightful owners. After
enacting the Zimbabwe Land Redistribution Act,
ZANU-PF sees itself on the road of Chimeranga 3
-- establishing that the [indigenous] people
of Zimbabwe own the land.
The IMF and World Bank Continue the Plunder
One hundred years after the South African
Company comes the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) and the World Bank to Zimbabwe. As the
economy in Zimbabwe stagnated in 1990, the
government turned to the IMF and the World
Bank and adopted structural adjustment plans.
This has put Zimbabwe on a chaotic road
downwards. During the first year of
implementation of the structural adjustment
plan(s), gross domestic product, which had
been growing at over 4 percent a year,
increased by only 1 percent in 1991.
Industrial production, which had been rising
nearly 6 percent per year, fell back to 2
Zimbabwe had always been a surplus maize
producer with stockpiles of more than 1
million tons to tide the country over drought
years. (Jean Duval, April 20, 2000, from the
"In Defense of Marxism" website.) After
implementing the structural adjustment plan(s)
of the World Bank -- which forced the
government of Zimbabwe to sell its stockpiles
of maize to make a profit so as to pay IMF and
World Bank debt -- Zimbabwe now has to import
maize to feed its destitute population.
The IMF and World Bank structural adjustment
plan(s) have precipitated food shortages in
Zimbabwe, for which the ZANU-PF government is
being blamed. These food shortages
(read:famine) are part of the excuses used by
the U.S. and EU to sanction Zimbabwe.
Furthermore, the IMF and World Bank structural
adjustment plan(s) devastated the economy of
the South African country of Zimbabwe.
The Western world has plundered Africa, killed
and enslaved its population, and have created
the basis for the food crisis existing in
Zimbabwe today. But, the Western donors --
including the World Bank and the IMF -- have
cut aid to the Zimbabwean government until
that government puts a halt to land seizures
by landless peasants.
Western Media Blames Zimbabweans For The
Western governments and media pundits blame
Zimbabwe's economic devastation on the
president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe.
According to them, Zimbabwe's economic crisis
are the result of havoc rendered on the
economy by Mugabe's mis-rule of the country
and his mis-management of its economy. But,
more specifically, these critics of the
Zimbabwean government indicate that the
immediate cause of the economic crisis is
land seizure by the Zimbabwean peasants.
In reality, the damages to the Zimbabwean
economy are due to the structural adjustment
plan(s) of the IMF and World Bank, are due to
tobacco planters protesting land seizures by
withholding tobacco crops at a time when the
Zimbabwean economy was being crushed under
the structural adjustment plan(s), and are due
to the White settler farmers destroying prize
farmland with the chemical atrozin(sp?), which
kills crops for two to three seasons!
There Are No Dictators
To attribute the fate of a national economy
to the decisions made by a single individual
is absurd. There is no possibility that a
single individual can single-handedly rule a
nation of millions -- all that needs be done
is to kill that individual while s/he sleeps.
In every class society, without exception, the
most powerful and dominant economic class
determines the political course of its
government. Classes rule. The state is a
bureaucratic-military machine, which functions
in the interests of the economically dominant
class. Neither the state nor the rule of the
economically dominant class are in any way
dependent upon -- let alone determined by --
a single, egotistical will of a delusional
As it is in Zimbabwe and the world, so it is
in the U.S. Charles Rangels and Sheila
Jackson-Lee of the Democratic Party's
Congressional Black Caucus advanced the
interests of the most powerful and dominant
economic class in the U.S. -- against the
Zimbabwean peasants -- when they rose to
support the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic
Recovery Act of 2001, and to sanction Zimbabwe.
Charles Rangels supported the return to the
"rule of law" in Zimbabwe, and Sheila Jackson-
Lee said that "[T]his legislation sends a
strong message to the rest of the world
regarding our intentions toward Zimbabwe."
Indeed, the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic
Recovery Act of 2001 sends the message that
the U.S. government is at war with the Southern
African nation of Zimbabwe. Rangels and
Jackson-Lee have sent a message to the people
of Zimbabwe that they have absolutely no
respect for the laws of Zimbabwe. The U.S.
government, the Democratic and Republican
parties, and the Congressional Black Caucus
support lawless White settlers' defiance of
Zimbabwe's laws regarding redistribution of
land in Zimbabwe.
"Land Reform Is Justifiable and Long
Overdue" (findings of the 2002 Zimbabwe
Fact-Finding Mission, lead by Elombe Brath
of Harlem, New York)
The Minister of Agricultural of the National
Land Acquisition Committee in Zimbabwe states
that in the tradition of Zimbabwe the land
does not belong to any man, but to God and is
managed and administered for the good and in
the interests of the people of Zimbabwe.
"[S]peaking in the language of the West,
land is not a commodity to be bought and sold."
(Taken from the video produced by Ron Wilkins
of Los Angeles, California for the 2002
Zimbabwe Fact-Finding Mission.) The Minister
of Agriculture in Zimbabwe continues: "[W]e
want the landholding part of Zimbabwe to
reflect the population of Zimbabwe."
In fact, the land seizures in Zimbabwe have
not gone far enough, and have come late.
A member of ZANU-PF spoke to the 2002 Zimbabwe
Fact-Finding Mission and said: "We are at war.
We have no illusions about that. What the
media has missed deliberately is the fact
that it is a war going on [in Zimbabwe]. The
war goes back to 1999-2000. Resumption of a
war that ended prematurely in 1979 with [the]
Lancaster [Agreement]. We had no illusion
that that which we agreed upon at Lancaster
would come back to haunt us. It was only a
question of time. The agreement that
imperialism has forced us into in this region
was deliberate and reflected the balance of
forces at the time they were concluded, and
reflected the extent to which the battle had
not been won fully."
Real Independence Requires Expropriation of
The Productive Forces
After the independence struggles of Africa in
the '50s and '60s, the ruling "Black"
governments govern in name only. The real
government of most of these independent
nation states is based in the hands of the
dominant economic class, and not in the hands
of the "people of Africa."
The poverty of recently independent African
nation-states from the overt political
shackles of colonialism is due to persistent
economic control of those economies by the
same economic masters in a neo-colonialist
system. Colonialism and neo-colonialism
could not and would not have happened --
nor could it continue -- without the
collaboration of "Quislings" in the
colonial or/and neo-colonial countries.
ZANU-PF and Robert Mugabe Fall Out of Favor
With Capitalists in Zimbabwe and the World
The food shortages and economic crisis in
Zimbabwe have been engendered by the
economic policies of Britain and the U.S.
as concretized in the structural adjustment
plan(s) of the IMF and World Bank.
Additionally, the crisis has been exacerbated
by the economic policies of Zimbabwean
capitalists -- especially the tobacco
capitalists who withheld or/and destroyed
critical tobacco crops -- the neo-colonial
Black bourgeoisie, and the ZANU-PF government.
In Zimbabwe today, we are not seeing food
shortages and economic crisis engendered by
famine and civil war as was/is in Ethiopia,
Somalia, Sudan and Afghanistan. Not at all!
The policies of Western capital in Zimbabwe
relegated Zimbabwe to being a source of natural
resources and raw materials, combined with a
specialized agricultural economy based in cash
crops for export -- tobacco being the most
important export crop in Zimbabwe-- rather
than diversified agricultural production that
includes production of food for domestic
consumption. These economic policies of
Western capital were exacerbated by the
structural adjustment plan(s) of the IMF and
World Bank. ZANU-PF and Robert Mugabe have,
until recently, been the "Quislings" of
British and American transnational
corporations. ZANU-PF sold out the Zimbabwean
peasants and workers long ago when it agreed to
the Lancaster Agreement that left the
Zimbabwean economy and the arable land in the
hands of domestic and transnational capitalists.
The Resources of the Zimbabwean State is
Placed at the Disposal of the Peasants and
Workers of Zimbabwe
The peasant population seizing arable lands in
Zimbabwe for production of food stuffs -- for
example, potatoes and cabbage -- was a "wake
up call" for ZANU-PF to return to the struggle
for liberation of the nation of Zimbabwe. The
recent policies and enactment of laws -- like
the Zimbabwe Land Redistribution Act -- are
merely a return by ZANU-PF, and Robert Mugabe,
to the war of liberation that was (in the words
of a ZANU-PF member) "ended prematurely in 1979
with [the] Lancaster [Agreement]." (Taken from
the video produced by Ron Wilkins of Los Angeles,
California for the 2002 Zimbabwe Fact-Finding
Mission led by Elombe Brath of Harlem, New York.)
Twenty years after ZANU-PF fought a liberation
struggle and seized state power, landless
peasants and unemployed and homeless
proletarians in Zimbabwe desperately and
spontaneously began to expropriate (seize)
fertile land. ZANU-PF and Robert Mugabe
recognized their former comrades of the national
liberation struggle. Instead of opposing the
land seizures, ZANU-PF and Robert Mugabe
correctly supported the landless peasants in
their efforts to take back the land that had
been forcibly expropriated from their ancestors.
Capital interests in Zimbabwe expected ZANU-PF
to uphold the pilfering "rule of law" of the
ZANU-PF "did the right thing" and stood with
the dispossessed population of Zimbabwe.
As a consequence of supporting the land
seizures in Zimbabwe, ZANU-PF and Robert
Mugabe have fallen out of favor with the
British and American transnational corporations,
as well as with the domestic capitalists
in Zimbabwe -- both Black and White.
Workers and Peasants in Zimbabwe Must Take
The arable land in Zimbabwe should be
transformed from production of export-
oriented cash crops to the production of
foodstuffs for domestic consumption. The
mines and natural resources in Zimbabwe should
be nationalized or/and declared national
treasures. All foreign tools in Zimbabwe
should be nationalized, and the profits derived
from mineral wealth production should belong
to the whole of the people of Zimbabwe.
The current economic crisis in Zimbabwe also
includes fuel price hikes that have forced bus
and taxi fares higher at a time when Zimbabweans
are struggling with record high unemployment
and eroded wages. (Reuters, July 6, 2001)
The economic struggle can become a political
struggle that leads to state power. The urban
working-class in Zimbabwe must move from the
purely economic struggle (strike) against
rising taxes and fuel prices to a movement
for the economical emancipation of the
proletariat by -- following the example of
the peasant land seizures -- expropriating the
industrial capitalists in Zimbabwe. The urban
proletariat in Zimbabwe must seize industry,
and the mine workers must seize the mines.
To make all this possible, the praxis of the
economic strike must displace the bourgeois
parliament in Zimbabwe by workers' and peasants'
soviets. Only the working class, in alliance
with the peasant masses, can make the
expropriations of industry become public
The landless peasants in Zimbabwe have begun
the expropriations by seizing small family
farms, but the dispossessed in Zimbabwe will
not own or be in control of the Zimbabwean
economy without peasant expropriation of
commercial plantations, and workers in
Zimbabwe expropriating mines and factories.
This is the way forward in Zimbabwe.
Back to Main News Page
As Venezuela Boils, Blacks are Caught in the Middle
By Hisham Aidi
Ever since the failed coup of April 2002, Venezuela has been teetering
on the brink of economic and political collapse. The streets of the
capital, Caracas, are flooded daily with marching workers, business
leaders. A month-long strike by oil workers has further crippled the
economy, causing long lines at gas stations and increasingly scarce
supplies in city stores.
Rising unemployment, plummeting national currency and a paralyzed
judicial system have, in the opposition's eyes, made the country
ungovernable for strongman Hugo Chavez. Chavez, however, insists that a
vote can't be held until August — mid-way through his six-year
presidency — and that his opposition is merely attempting to provoke a
coup to restore the corruption party system that existed before his rise
to power. The National Elections Council has begun organizing a
nationwide referendum on Chavez's rule, slated to be held February 2.
With battle lines drawn and both sides digging in their heels there are
daily marches, riots and skirmishes, and there is talk of a second coup
and even of civil war.
With an opposition composed of labor, the media, the church, and most
business leaders, whom does Chavez have on his side? Ironically, it is
the country's long-marginalized black community that stands in the
middle of the debate. As Chavez has alienated the predominantly white
political and business elite, he has appealed to the poor majority, who
are black and Indian. Observers note that Chavez's populist rhetoric has
exposed Venezuela's ethnic and racial fault-lines (the country's
population is 21 % white, 10 % black, 67 % mestizo, and 2 % indigenous),
and deepened the divide between the country's white middle and upper
classes and the poor majority — some 80 % of the country's 24 million
people live in poverty.
With populist rhetoric — not to mention copper skin and curly hair —
Chavez is seen as a champion of the country's mestizo population (mixed
people of black, Indian and white background) and he often appeals
directly to the poor and non-white majority to counter the racism of the
In the wake of strike-spawned gas shortages, Chavez has denounced the
opposition's strike — sparked by his refusal to submit to an early
election — blasting his enemies for the strike's side effects on the
nation's poor. Chavez has frequently portrayed his opponents as not only
opposed to his populist policies, but racists who despise him. "There's
an incredible racism in this society," Chavez told the Spanish daily El
Pais. "They call me the monkey or the black, they can't stand that
someone like me was elected president."
A number of African American commentators have denounced US opposition
to Chavez and expressed support for Chavez as a champion of
Afro-Venezuelan rights. Glen Ford, publisher of The Black Commentator,
excoriated National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice for her criticisms
of Chavez: "White minorities hoard the bulk of social and material
wealth across the width and breadth of Latin America. At times, the pale
elite seems to prevail by default. Venezuela is breaking the mold... we
should applaud the militancy of Caracas' dark shantytowns during the
Opponents say Chavez is merely exploiting American conceptions of racial
identity to garner African American support. Writing in Salon.com, one
critic noted that "Mr. Chavez is the typical mestizo with some Indian
blood. But he is no black. He might be a little darker than former
President Luis Herrera Campin, but not by much."
Chavez has angered the Bush administration for years, openly praising
the anti-globalization movement, and denouncing state leaders who "go
from summit to summit while their peoples go from abyss to abyss." He
also has ties with Saddam Hussein, Colombia's leftist rebels, and Fidel
Castro; he even praised Cuba as a "sea of happiness!" Venezuela, the
world's fifth largest oil producer, is a major US supplier, and the US
has been concerned with Chavez's militant populism, despite the latter's
insistence that Venezuela will remain a reliable supplier to the US.
During last April's attempted coup, the Bush administration could barely
conceal its glee at the prospective ouster of Chavez, and Condeleezza
Rice in particular angered many in the African American community with
her anti-Chavez comments. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus
wrote a letter of support to Chavez in May, expressing support for the
president's call for dialogue and reconciliation, which he made after
returning to power. Chavez, in June, thanked "these black brothers and
sisters," and invited black members of Congress to act as observers and
mediators in his proposed dialogue with political adversaries. CBC
members have yet to Chavez up on his offer.
Writing in The San Francisco Bayview in late September, Alejandro
Correa, a prominent black Venezuelan academic, described how Chavez had
improved the lot of black Venezuelans. For the first time, he argued,
"Venezuelan people of African descent have total control of their
historic black university, the Instituto Universitario Barloyento,"
where Correa is a professor.
"These dreams of the African Venezuelan people may be deferred if the
United States replaces Chavez with a rightwing businessman as
president," Correa went on. The article concludes with a plea to
Americans "to write letters to the US Congress asking that the US
respect the Venezuelan government and follow the rule of law and
international treaties in dealing with Venezuela."
Prominent European political commentators such as Ignacio Ramonet,
editor of Le Monde Diplomatique, have also argued that Chavez improved
the lot of black and Indian Venezuelans, and that had incensed the white
elite: "[T]he minuscule upper crust and the upper middle class,
essentially white...are terrified of people of color, people with copper
or black skin rising on the social scale. Here [in Venezuela], as in
everywhere in Latin America, they occupy the lowest rungs of society.
They [the white elite] would have to share their privilege, and that
Experts have also noted the possible regional repercussions of a
US-backed coup against Chavez. "Latins and Europeans are seeing
US-Venezuelan relations as another example of Bush's blundering
unilateralism," said Fernando Casado, editor of La Voz Alterna, a
progressive Spanish magazine, via telephone. "Chavez is using
Venezuela's oil earnings to provide basic services to the country's
poorest, who happen to be black and Indian. Despite all the rhetoric, he
is not a socialist."
Casado went on. "The US should be careful not to oppose this
democratically elected leader just because he is seeking more control
and profit from the country's oil resources. He is cleverly playing on
Venezuela's class and ethnic divisions to build domestic and
international support. An openly anti-Chavez policy will fuel
anti-Americanism in Venezuela and in much of Latin America. The Bush
administration should recall that in 1953 in Iran, the US overthrew
Mossadegh, a populist leader who nationalized the oil industry, and put
the Shah in place; this led to anti-Americanism, the Ayatollah Khomeini,
and to the anti-Western fundamentalism we have today in that region. The
US should proceed very cautiously."
Inspired by Simon Bolivar, the liberator of Latin America, Chavez
introduced the Bolivar Plan, which involves the military in economic
development, deploys soldiers to build state infrastructure, uses army
barracks as schools and shares military medical facilities with the rest
of the population. Chavez appointed generals to head the state oil
company, and used the military to open hundreds of schools, many run by
Cuban teachers, sent over by Castro in exchange for cheap oil.
Chavez's domestic and international opponents are worried by the
increasing militarization of Venezuelan society, and point in particular
to Chavez's "Bolivarian Circles," which the head of state claims are
social self-help organizations, but which critics say are armed
militias. Observers note while the middle and upper classes may dislike
Chavez, the leader has the backing of the poor, black and indigenous,
who believe in his "revolution," and who many say will fight for Chavez
should another crisis arise - as they showed last April. Chavez has
warned that the Bolivarian revolution is armed.
Whatever the upshot of the current unrest, Chavez is clearly counting on
the support of the military and his black-Indian-mestizo majority.
Referring to the April crisis, he notes, "Hundreds of thousands of
people all over the country came out against the coup. And where did
they go? They assembled at the army barracks, and they did so because of
the existing understanding that had been built up between officers and
civilians by Plan Bolivar."
Keenly aware of the Bush administration's displeasure with his rhetoric
and alliances, Chavez has been
conspicuously silent about the imminent toppling of his friend Saddam,
and is actually using the prospect of a second Gulf War as an
opportunity to ingratiate himself with the US. In the
counter-demonstrations staged daily by Chavez' supporters, amidst the
revolutionary speeches, large banners read "Venezuela and the United
States, more united than ever."
Likewise, as war with Iraq looms, the US also seems to have backed away
from its hard-line position last spring when it appeared to welcome the
right-wing coup; now, to the disappointment of Chavez's adversaries, US
officials are stating that they will not support an unconstitutional
change in Venezuela.
Chavez likes to compare himself to Salvador Allende, the socialist
leader of Chile who was removed from power through a US-backed coup. But
Chavez also likes to note with wry confidence: "There's a small
difference [between Allende and myself]. Allende didn't have the army on
He might have added that Allende also did not have his country's black
and indigenous majority on his side. As Aiskel Blanco, a radio producer
and member of a Bolivarian Circle, told the BBC: "[In case of another
coup] the people will descend from the hills, emerge from the barrios —
the blacks, the marginalized. All Venezuelans will defend our
First published: January 10, 2003
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Rally Against the War
We are gathered here today, on this cold DC morning to prevent a war in the
hot, desert sands of Iraq.
In the bitter coldness of apartheid Cape Town, Bobby Kennedy spoke words of
hope to black and white South Africans, encouraging them to stand for their
ideals, act to help others, strike out against injustice, and sweep down the
mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
Yet, in 1966, no one could foresee that Nelson Mandela, then apartheid's
political prisoner, would be sworn in as South Africa's President. And yet
The struggle against apartheid certainly didn't start with Bobby Kennedy; but
Bobby Kennedy did his part.
For justice. For peace. At home. And abroad.
Dr. King warned us that we have guided missiles and misguided men.
When Dr. King decided to speak out against an evil and unjust war, even
though he could be killed for doing so, he insisted that we speak for peace
in Vietnam and for justice throughout the world.
Knowing the consequences, Dr. King . . . did his part.
For justice. For peace. At home. And abroad.
And that's why we are here today. Even though this movement doesn't start
with us, each one of us will do our part.
For justice. For peace. At home. And abroad.
And in our quest for justice at home, Mr. President, we won't forget that
your brother trampled on the voting rights of the poor and of people of color
to put you in the White House today--a privilege you did not earn.
Where is your mandate, Mr. President, to take this country to war?
We won't forget, Mr. President, that while you push your plan to drill for
oil in Alaska, you still haven't told us the role that Enron played in
shaping your plan.
We won't forget that even John McCain has criticized the appearance of war
Mr. President, did you know that your new Treasury Secretary's company has
decided to sell all their ships to The Carlyle Group?
And in our quest for justice at home, Mr. President, we won't forget that
Halliburton received an unlimited contract of ten years? duration to supply
food and support to our troops who are fighting on the front lines of this
war against terrorism.
And our troops, our troops Mr. President.
We won't forget that while our troops get sick from Halliburton's food, one
of your first acts after declaring this War on Terrorism was to deny our
troops their high deployment overtime pay--even as you sent them to faraway
places all over the globe to fight at the front lines of this war.
It was cold last night, Mr. President.
And all across our country it was especially cold for the quarter of a
million veterans who sleep on our streets every night.
Our veterans are sick, Mr. President.
And instead of zapping our soldiers with drugs intended to turn them into
killing machines, why not fully fund health benefits for our veterans, like
Money is desperately needed to take care of Agent Orange, Gulf War Syndrome,
depleted uranium, Lou Gehrig's Disease, cancer, infertility, memory loss,
birth defects, and the post traumatic stress syndrome that they suffer from
Mr. President, amid the White House revelation of near record deficits into
the foreseeable future and near double- digit unemployment, it is clear that
fighting a war in Iraq cannot be the foremost national security issue at this
In no other rich democracy on this planet do so many people have so little.
Yet, your proposed stimulus package will give billions more to the wealthy.
What about us, Mr. President, what about us?
The occupation of Iraq after the war is expected to cost some 50 billion
dollars, not including the cost of the war.
Mr. President, if you really wanted to leave no child behind just think what
50 billion dollars could do!
But look at you now, Mr. President, standing in front of the college doors,
looking more like George Wallace than the compassionate conservative George
Too bad, the only way to finance a college education for far too many
Americans is to enlist in the military.
And so, Caspar Weinberger writes that the reason our military has more black
and Latino volunteers is that there is "a higher degree of patriotism" among
blacks and Hispanics "than among whites."
Well, we don't need Mr. Weinberger to tell us about patriotism. George
Washington in his farewell address of 1796 warned us about false patriots.
He warned us about those who wrap themselves in the flag and yet betray our
We, gathered here, are the real patriots, holding America to her highest
George Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle. Where were you when
America needed you?
The President's spokesman dares to compare George W. to President Kennedy!
John F. Kennedy refused to go to war and lost his life.
Dr. King aroused millions against war--and lost his life.
Bobby Kennedy vowed to end the war--and lost his life.
On this Dr. King Weekend, let us remember that there was a time when we were
loved around the world.
Loved, because like our fallen martyrs, when America saw wrong, we tried to
right it; when we saw suffering, we tried to heal it . . .
. . . And when there was war we tried to stop it.
The work that we do today is noble and good.
For justice. For peace. At home. And abroad.
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