'ILL'-ECTION CAMPAIGNS & THE GREAT DU BOIS
[Col. Writ. 8/31/03] Copyright 2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal
"The Democrats won't have us and the Republicans don't want
us. Is there anything to do but impotently wring our empty
-- Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, "An ABC of Color" (1969)
It is somewhat painful to look at the emerging election
campaign, especially when one thinks about the concerns of
the African-American community and the American working
Both have been virtually ignored, or, if noticed, talked
to like they are idiots. Few are the politicians who want
to truly tackle and engage the state of Black America, and
the state of workers in America.
That's because, in the present world of political
politeness, one does not really want to unsettle one group,
by promising another group something, and, in the case of
the workers, most politicians have conceded the field to
that social force that can amass the most dough -- the
business class. With the exception of the former 'Boy
Mayor' (and now Congressman) Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh.), to
speak of NAFTA is a no-no. The North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA) has done more to demolish U.S. labor than
the planes plowing into the Trade Centers on Sept. 11th!
Because of NAFTA and similar pro-business pacts, the
jobs in America which pay the best, manufacturing, are
fleeing to warmer climes, where workers are paid a tenth,
sometimes a hundredth of what American workers are being
paid. Most candidates out there today, Democrats and
Republicans, owe their campaign monies to such corporate
interests, and have no intention of cutting off their
lucrative flow. They're bought; and they'll stay bought,
thank you! Any idea which points to that problem is
dismissed as "class war."
For African-Americans, who are over-represented in the
working class, the economy is in virtual free-fall, with
millions (if they are lucky enough to have a job) living one
paycheck away from disaster. For them, an American economic
recession spells a Depression. This, in a time when schools
worse than in several generations. This bodes ill for the
generations coming up, for if education is a failure, what
of one's life options?
Way back in the 1920s, the great scholar-activist, W.E.B.
Du Bois decried both political parties, for being unworthy
of Black political support. Writing for "The Crisis"
Journal, Du Bois wrote:
We are invited not to support either of the old,
discredited and bankrupt political parties. In
words, we are being compelled to do what every
thinking American wants to do -- namely, support
third party which represents character, decency and
ideals. Just as the two old parties have combined
us to nullify our power by a "gentleman's agreement"
nonrecognition, no matter how we vote -- in the same
way they have agreed to nullify the vote of every
looking, thinking, honest American. The revolt
this smug and idiotic defiance of the demand for
advanced legislation and intelligence is slowly
the country. ... May God *write us down as asses if
ever again we are found putting our trust in either
Republican or the Democratic Parties.*
[Du Bois, "An ABC of Color" (Int'l Publ., 1969),
Du Bois wrote these words over 80 years ago. How true
they sound today!
On the most important issues facing the nation, war,
peace, social justice, the death penalty, NAFTA, ... how
similar so many of the candidates sound, regardless of their
At bottom, most of them are members of the 'Corporate
Party', for those are the interests that they represent.
The poor, the working class, the urban young, urban and
rural seniors, they are on their own.
For economic issues are not just the stuff of the
business pages; such issues are the stuff of most of our
lives, as we live in the shadow of economic recession, and
something that the business press praises as 'the jobless
recovery!' Isn't it time for a real third Party?; One which
doesn't have its umbilical cord tethered to Wall St.? Isn't
it time for a real Labor Party, that addresses the real
bread and butter issues in the interests of the People?
Let us begin to think about solutions, or 80 years from
now, we will still be reciting Dr. Du Bois' insights.
Copyright 2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal
US soldiers bulldoze farmers' crops:
Americans accused of brutal 'punishment' tactics against villagers
By Patrick Cockburn
The Independent (UK)
October 12, 2003
Dhuluaya, Iraq -- US soldiers driving bulldozers, with jazz blaring from
loudspeakers, have uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as
orange and lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of
collective punishment of farmers who do not give information about
guerrillas attacking US troops.
The stumps of palm trees, some 70 years old, protrude from the brown
earth scoured by the bulldozers beside the road at Dhuluaya, a small
town 50 miles north of Baghdad. Local women were yesterday busily
bundling together the branches of the uprooted orange and lemon trees
and carrying then back to their homes for firewood.
Nusayef Jassim, one of 32 farmers who saw their fruit trees destroyed,
said: "They told us that the resistance fighters hide in our farms, but
this is not true. They didn't capture anything. They didn't find any
Other farmers said that US troops had told them, over a loudspeaker in
Arabic, that the fruit groves were being bulldozed to punish the farmers
for not informing on the resistance which is very active in this Sunni
"They made a sort of joke against us by playing jazz music while they
were cutting down the trees," said one man. Ambushes of US troops have
taken place around Dhuluaya. But Sheikh Hussein Ali Saleh al-Jabouri, a
member of a delegation that went to the nearby US base to ask for
compensation for the loss of the fruit trees, said American officers
described what had happened as "a punishment of local people because
'you know who is in the resistance and do not tell us.'"
What the Israelis had done by way of collective punishment of
Palestinians was now happening in Iraq, Sheikh Hussein added.
The destruction of the fruit trees took place in the second half of last
month but, like much which happens in rural Iraq, word of what occurred
has only slowly filtered out. The destruction of crops took place along
a kilometre-long stretch of road just after it passes over a bridge.
Farmers say that 50 families lost their livelihoods, but a petition
addressed to the coalition forces in Dhuluaya pleading in erratic
English for compensation, lists only 32 people. The petition says: "Tens
of poor families depend completely on earning their life on these
orchards and now they became very poor and have nothing and waiting for
hunger and death."
The children of one woman who owned some fruit trees lay down in front
of a bulldozer but were dragged away, according to eyewitnesses who did
not want to give their names. They said that one American soldier broke
down and cried during the operation. When a reporter from the newspaper
"Iraq Today" attempted to take a photograph of the bulldozers at work, a
soldier grabbed his camera and tried to smash it. The same paper quotes
Lt. Col. Springman, a US commander in the region, as saying: "We asked
the farmers several times to stop the attacks, or to tell us who was
responsible, but the farmers didn't tell us."
Informing US troops about the identity of their attackers would be
extremely dangerous in Iraqi villages, where most people are related and
everyone knows each other. The farmers who lost their fruit trees all
belong to the Khazraji tribe and are unlikely to give information about
fellow tribesmen if they are, in fact, attacking US troops.
Asked how much his lost orchard was worth, Nusayef Jassim said in a
distraught voice: "It is as if someone cut off my hands and you asked me
how much my hands were worth."
Study reveals first evidence that GM superweeds exist
By Steve Connor/ Science Editor
10 October 2003
Cross-pollination between GM plants and their wild
relatives is inevitable and could create hybrid
superweeds resistant to the most powerful weedkillers,
according to the first national study of how genes pass
from crops to weeds.
Its findings will raise concerns about the impact of GM
crops. Next week the results will be published of farm-
scale trials which have studied the impact on the
countryside of three types of crop.
The government-funded scientists said the latest
findings "contrast" with previous assessments of gene
flow between farm crops and weeds. They had suggested
that the danger of hybridisation - where two types of
plant cross-pollinate to create another, for example a
superweed - was limited. Superweeds are considered to
be a threat because, in some cases, they might absorb
resistance to weedkillers from GM crops engineered to
But the results of the research, which involved
analysing satellite images of the British countryside
and patrolling 180 miles of river banks, reveal that
hybridisation is both more widespread and frequent than
Mike Wilkinson of Reading University, who led the study
published today in the journal Science, said physical
barriers such as isolation distances - buffer zones
designed to stop pollen spreading from GM crops into
the wild - would have only a limited impact on
"This [study] shows that isolation distances will
reduce hybrid numbers but not prevent hybridisation. It
depends on what level of hybridisation you deem
acceptable but if you want to absolutely prevent
hybrids then isolation distances will not do so," Dr
Wilkinson said. "Hybridisation is more or less
inevitable in the UK context," he added.
The study concentrated on non-GM oilseed rape and
assessed how easily it cross-bred with a near-relative
in the wild called bargeman's cabbage, also known as
wild turnip, which typically grows along river banks.
Although the research was based on conventional oilseed
rape, Dr Wilkinson said the conclusions applied to any
flow of genes that could be expected from the GM
varieties of oilseed rape that were undergoing farm-
"Our findings are directly transferable to almost all
sorts of genetically modified oilseed rape," he said.
"The only exceptions will be ones where there is male
sterility introduced into the crop."
Researchers scoured the countryside for sites where
bargeman's cabbage grew near to oilseed rape fields and
they used DNA techniques to assess whether any hybrids
between the crop and the wildflower had been produced
as a result of pollen transfer.
The scientists, from the Natural Environment Research
Council and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in
Dorset, calculated the frequency of hybridisation and
used it to estimate the number of hybrids that would
form each year across the UK.
They concluded that typically there would be 32,000
hybrids produced annually in wild riverside populations
of bargeman's cabbage, and a further 17,000 hybrids
growing among a weedier variety of the wildflower which
tends to infest farmland. This represents a relatively
small fraction of the 88 million wild bargeman's
cabbage plants estimated to grow along British
riverbanks, but if the hybridisation involved a GM gene
that conferred a significant advantage on the weed, the
hybrid could quickly spread to pose a superweed threat.
An important outcome of the work is that it will allow
scientists to assess what needs to be done to limit the
spread of genes and pollen from GM crops. One
possibility is to make the male plants sterile so they
do not produce pollen.
"If we know how many hybrids to expect then we can test
methods that people put forward hoping to prevent
hybrid formation. In order to prevent hybrid formation
you need to know how many to expect in the first
place," Dr Wilkinson said.
"One of the main reasons for doing the work is that
this sort of data represents a starting point for us to
do predictive modelling, to predict how particular
different sorts of genes will behave across the
"It's important to know how many hybrids to expect, to
know how efficient it has to be to prevent hybrids. The
key question is whether the gene that they contain is
going to cause a change [to the countryside] or not,"
Although the latest study stands in contrast to
previous work attempting to predict gene flow between
farm crops and wild flowers, Dr Wilkinson said the
findings were not totally surprising. "The level of
hybrid formation is more or less in keeping with what
we expected on a national level," he said. "What's
surprised us slightly is the variability between the