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Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Essays

Commentaries by the award-winning journalist and activist Mumia Abu-Jamal
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Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Essays
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Now displaying: 2008
Oct 1, 2008
By the time you read this the $700 billion bailout will have been old news, one of the biggest transfers of wealth in history. But it will not heal that which ails the nation as it trips and stumbles like a drunken sailor on shore leave. The reasons are simple. For the problems are systemic, built into the rapacious nature of the machinery humming all around us. The Rube Goldberg-like contraption of democratic forms at the service of the financial services industry is a bottomless maw, a gaping mouth that is never sated. Why was there no alarm when millions of people lost their homes to foreclosures made inevitable by variable mortgage rates? When millions lost manufacturing jobs to low paying service gigs? When living standards crumbled, and when take home pay fell to 1973 levels? Where was the alarm? There was no alarm -- for this was the 'blind hand of the market' at work, the leveling way of globalism, the new world order moving through, preparing the way for the triumph of capitalism uber alles. Few were the politicians who gave voice to this immense social suffering. Fewer still used their power to try to assuage their pain, for they too were drunk on the wine of globalism. But when the ripples spread upwards, from the foreclosed homes to the foreclosing banks -and from the banks to investment houses, Congress stirred from their drunken stupor, and rang alarm bells loudest. "It's an economic 9/11!", some bellowed; "It's a financial tsunami!", yelled others. When Americans were hoodwinked into ruinous sub-prime loans, and millions were faced with foreclosures, where was the alarm? More importantly, where was the help for those who were endangered? Nowhere. Nowhere. If they helped them the present economic crisis would've been mitigated. Instead, we're in a situation where a scam artist sets up shop in a street-corner, playing a fraudulent 3-card monty hustle, and along comes a cop. The cop, instead of rousting the scam artist, rifles the pockets of every passerby, and delivers the stolen loot to the scammer. The scam artist, of course, is the financial investment houses; the cop, of course, is Congress -- and you are the passerby, hustled and robbed by both of them. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote, 160 years ago, that the State was but the executive for capitalist. After what we are all seeing, who can doubt it? The Empire is crumbling. 10/1/08 (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Oct 1, 2008
It's been over a year since two members of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU), Local 10, were harassed, beaten and busted while trying to call their union rep on a cell phone. The men, Aaron Harrison and Jason Ruffin, were beaten by maritime security and West Sacramento cops, for the fake offense of parking -- while Black. They are days away from trial in Yolo County, California on bogus "resisting arrest" charges, really cover charges--to cover up the fact that they were racially profiled for the high crimes and misdemeanor of being two young Black men, sitting in a car, on the docks. It would've been wrong, and just as vile, if it were 2 young guys who were unaffiliated or even unemployed. But the fact is, they are affiliated with a union with a long and proud history of resistance on behalf, not just of ILWU members, but to the working class, and social justice movements worldwide. And if the ILWU will fight for others, they certainly will fight for themselves! And they are rightfully demanding that all charges be dropped against their ILWU brothers Ruffin and Harrison --not some--all! They will come out in the hundreds for them -- because they understand the old saying, "An injury to one, is an injury to all!" For that -- for their fighting spirit -- for making unity a real part of the union -- they are to be commended. With unity like that unions can expand, and begin to transform this country from the casino and political whorehouse for Wall St. that it has become. Free Bros. Ruffin & Harrison! An Injury to One Is An Injury to All! 10/1/08 (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Sep 27, 2008
If Congress has shown us anything, it is that when they are scared, they'll do anything. Seven years ago, in the twilight after 9/11 and in the wake of the anthrax attacks, Congress passed sweeping authorizations to the White House for war on a whim, and signed the so-called Patriot Act in record time. Some members admitted that they didn't even read the bill before voting "aye." One man, a prominent and even legendary congressman admitted, "We were afraid; they told us we had to pass the Patriot Act -- so we did it." Fear. That same dank, semi-sweet smell is radiating through the halls of Congress, thicker than the clouds of cigar smoke. This time it's financial fear. Politicians are once again dancing to the tune of others, to the Masters of the Universe on Wall Street, who need another bailout, bringing it to nearly a trillion bucks ($1,000,000,000,000!) in less than a month! And just like last time, Congress is being suckered into coughing up the public's money--quickly--or else! The Iraq War was a shell game that exploded into a debacle. Remember how the media initially tried to link anthrax attacks to Al Qaeda? When the source is nailed to an apparently mad American scientist (question: was he really mad, or a scientist following government orders?), it's too late. The damage is done. The bills are passed. Powers are transferred. Hundreds of billions are spent and wasted? Right? Congress has defied the common knowledge that we learn from our mistakes; because here we go again. The administration yells, "Boo!", and Congress answers, "How much do you want?" This is not to suggest (to paraphrase former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt) that the only thing to be feared is fear. There really is a disaster looming in the financial world. And Congress knew about it years ago (or certainly should have). Why else would they've passed the amended Bankruptcy Act several years ago? Why would they pass a bill making it harder to file bankruptcies--unless they saw a tidal wave of it coming down the river? They knew it was coming, as certainly as autumn follows summer. Congress is poised to, once again, transfer public wealth to private businesses, in a mad dash to re- wrap bad loans as new instruments, so that these securities could be peddled to new buyers. Who'll buy? Will Wall Street? Don't bet on it. Will you? Probably not. Perhaps China will buy up these new instruments --but don't hold your breath! 9/23/08 (c) Mumia Abu-Jamal
Sep 27, 2008
In a matter of months, a new man will take the oath of office for the presidency. Whether he is the oldest in history, or the first Black one, of one thing we may be certain. He will be hobbled by a sea of red ink, and therefore bereft of most of the resources to bring his campaign promises to reality. For as the fires continue to rage throughout the financial markets, they will turn tax returns into smoke. Don't expect any of them to tell you this, but you can rest assured that all of them know it. And if the office of the Imperial presidency will be strapped for resources, what of average folks? As an old saying (sorta) goes, 'stuff rolls downhill.' As businesses tighten up, credit tightens up, and spending tightens up. This economy (as even the Mad Prince Bush has urged) relies on consumption, or shopping, to function. Anything that weakens this process has a whiplash effect throughout the economy. Earlier this year, American financier George Soros announced, shortly after the failure of the economic talks at Davos, Switzerland, that the U.S. economy has reached a new stage marking an end of the era. "The current crisis is not only the bust that follows the housing boom", Soros explained, adding, "It's basically the end of a 60-year period of continuing credit expansion based on the dollar as the reserve currency." Soros made these observations in January of 2008. Things have obviously gotten considerably worse since then. The economy is increasingly coming under state control, and social wealth is being aggregated to protect private capital. What created this crisis was rampant crony capitalism, and unless that is addressed by deep structural transformation, these problems will only worsen. That is virtually inevitable. Just as the White House saddled the next administration with disasters in foreign policy, they have effectively stolen the public purse. So, ultimately, it won't matter who gets elected, because he'll be too broke to do anything. 9/24/08 (c) Mumia Abu-Jamal [Source: Landler, Mark, "U.S. Policies Evoke Scorn at Davos: Fed Caved In to the Markets (Or Maybe it Dawdled), Critics Say, " New York Times, Thurs., Jan. 24, 2008, p.C9]
Sep 6, 2008
For those who read court opinions, few can ignore the U.S. Supreme Court's 1986 Batson v. Kentucky decision. Essentially, it prohibited the State from removing Black jurors for racial reasons. It re-wrote the rules from the Swain v. Alabama ( 1965) case, where the court required systematic discrimination over a number of cases, over a period of years. Needless to say, such a challenge was clearly beyond the resources of most people, and relatively few were made, and even fewer successful. It is hard to resist the suspicion that this was merely judicial lip service to a principle that was easily ignored, in the breach. For, it took over a generation, over 20 years, for Swain to be overruled by Batson, and now, Batson is beginning to bear an eerie resemblance to its unworkable parentage, because courts have been loathe to grant relief, and have either created new rules, or simply ignored its dictates. We see this at work recently in a number of cases, among them Com. v. (Robert) Cook, WL 284060 (July 24, 2008). In this case, the DA used 74% of his strikes to remove 14 Black jurors. Incredibly, the Phila. Court of Common Pleas initially found that even this didn't constitute a prima facie case of discrimination. Later, it found a prima facie case, but ruled that the DA put forth sufficient race-neutral reasons for exclusion, and therefore not a violation of Batson. Recently, the PA Supreme Court agreed, even though the DA couldn't recall why he removed 2 Black jurors -- or, in other words, couldn't articulate a justification. Now remember -- Batson states that the improper removal of one juror violates the constitution. One -- not 14. But here's the kicker. The DA in Mr. Cook's case made a video training tape, where he taught his fellow prosecutors how to violateBatson - and how to lie about it to judges. but perhaps the then prosecutor, Jack McMahon, didn't need to work that hard, for courts would take up the slack. For where the DA can't remember a reason, the court will invent one. This is especially egregious in this case, for the man who wrote the opinion was the DA when McMahon made the tapes, but now sits as Chief Justice of the court. Can you spell 'conflict of interest?' Did he recuse himself? (What do you think?) For over a decade, Pennsylvania courts have painted McMahon as the bad guy, a kind of rogue prosecutor, and most of his convictions have been reversed (except Cook's), but McMahon wasn't, and never should've been, the issue. For he was simply describing the pattern and practice of the office, and training his colleagues in techniques used over years of trials. Mr. McMahon was putting into words what DAs did to get convictions. Does that mean his office sought a fair and impartial jury? In McMahon's words, " Well, that's ridiculous. You're not trying to get that." In fact, McMahon explained, their jobs were to get the most "unfair" jury possible. And, in many cases, that meant getting as few Blacks to serve on the jury as possible. Batson is as empty as Swain was, for if they don't want to give it up, any reason will do. They proclaim ideals of fairness that bear no relationship to the real process happening daily in courtrooms all across America. That would be, to quote McMahon, "ridiculous." -- (c) '08 maj
Sep 5, 2008
As the national political conventions fade into the fog of our short-term memory, few items seem to have penetrated the made-for-TV presentations. We remember a few snippets (if we're lucky), a few disparate images, an emotional impression, perhaps. I'm willing to bet that few of us remember any meaningful discussion of the real economic problems faced by the U.S. That's because none of the major presidential candidates have even the remotest solutions to the economic problems plaguing the country, for both are ardent advocates of globalization -- and globalization ain't the solution -- it's the problem. For globalization emerged as a tool of U.S. economic power to dominate the world in the post-Cold War era. It was designed to open up foreign markets to U.S. and Western businesses, using the illusion of "free trade" to crowbar into local and national economies. Chalmers Johnson, in his 2000 book, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of Empire (N.Y.: Owl Books) puts forth precisely this thesis with clarity and conviction. He illustrates how much of this could be traced to former president Richard Nixon's abolition of the post-World War Bretton Woods agreements, which pegged world currencies to the dollar, and the dollar to U.S. gold reserves. From that day on, economies became free floating, and whole new industry was born -- finance capital, or the business of speculating in, and profiting from, the moneys of others. Such a system, especially when wedded with the protectionism that prevailed in East Asia for some 50 years, created havoc around the world, where foreign wealth destabilizes local markets, for the quick buck. A byproduct of this new globalized economy was the hollowing out of American industries, the loss of manufacturing jobs, and the failure of America's domestic economy. Johnson cites the work of City College of New York historian, Judith Stein, for examples of how U.S. industrial policy became a wrecking ball to Black communities both in the South and North, industries abroad was a keystone of U.S. strategic policy, and encouraging steel imports became a tool for maintaining vital alliances. The nation's leaders by and large ignored the resulting conflict between Cold War and domestic goals" { p.195}. While presidential candidates argue over taxes on capital gains, millions of Americans struggle to make ends meet. Tens of thousands of people have lost their homes, due to lost jobs or foreclosures. It is a globalized economy for capital, high finance, and speculation, but it can hardly be considered one for working people. For them, a hundred barriers bloom, making it harder than ever to chase jobs. Both major candidates are deaf to their plight, and thus are ill-disposed to address it, much less solve it. --(c) '08 maj [Source: Johnson's Blowback.; Goodman, Peter S., "U.S. and Global Economies Slipping in Unison," New York Times (Sunday), 8/24/08, pp.1, 12.]
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