Feb 6, 2009
What we are seeing in the economy is something not seen in this country since the 1930's -- the time of the Great Depression.
If we think of the companies shedding jobs like trees shedding leaves, they are so numerous that it may prove easier to name companies that haven't -- (if we could find any!)
In January alone, some 1/2 million workers got pink slips.
And this economic crisis is global. Europe is locked in a financial vise, and big countries, like England and France, have announced ambitious stimulus packages. England has openly nationalized prominent banks facing default. Iceland has, for all intents and purposes, declared bankruptcy -- with not just banks, but government itself is failing.
And while China, the site of the world's most robust economy is still growing, its rate of growth has fallen so fast that some 20 million people -- 20 million! -- have lost their jobs, a direct result of the U.S. economic recession.
Over a year ago, American economist Nouriel Roubini, speaking at a meeting in Davos, Switzerland, said the U.S. economy looked "like an emerging market."
Roubini predicted that the U.S. would enter a recession which would last at least a year. he added, "The debate is not whether we're going to have a soft or hard landing. The question is only how hard the hard landing will be." *
A Chinese economist echoed that sentiment. Yu Yongding, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences described the Chinese economy as at "quite a delicate stage." The problem, he concluded, was the "very bad situation" in the U.S.
Globalization was sold as the next best thing to the industrial age, when Americans would live in the warm glow of the information age, lit by computer screens, and the rest of the world would do scut work.
How's that working out, as the economy crumbles?
[*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.]
--(c) 2/4/09 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Jan 26, 2009
Several days ago I read an interesting article in the paper on the tiny Black community in Basra, Iraq. The piece was basically a foreign take on the impacts of the Obama election, for Black Iraqis hoped this would signal better conditions for them in the land of their ancestors.
Black people are hardly new to Iraq.
Their present population stems from slave importations from over a thousand years ago, when the city of Basra, in Iraq's southern sliver, was the seat of Mesopotamia. Africans were kidnapped into bondage, and forced to work (I kid you not) in the region's salt mines.
In the early third of the seventh century (ca. 820 C. E.), Blacks staged a powerful rebellion, which forced the government to flee. This revolution, called "The Revolt of the Zenj" by Arab historians, lasted for over 20 years. This revolution was betrayed, and the rebels were slain and some put back into bondage.
The name "Revolt of the Zenj" is so named because Blacks from the southeast coast of Africa, called "Zenjabar" by the Arabs (later Zanzibar, and today a part of Tanzania) were captured by the millions and sold into slavery throughout the Arab world.
The hundreds of thousands of Black Iraqis today are among their descendants. As such, they live lives of discrimination, poor education, under-and-unemployment and poverty.
One Basra father explained his decision to remove his daughter from school because she was teased with the term abd (Arabic for slave) by her classmates.
The father said, "it is my wish that she will read and write, but I cannot let her have these...problems."
The Black Iraqi population numbers in the thousands, not the millions. But even after a millennia and a half in Iraq, they still sing ancient songs of a distant African memory.
1/25/09] (c) '09 Mumia Abu-Jamal
[Source: Madhani, AAmer, "Obama's Rise Inspires Arab Iraqis in Politics", USA Today, Jan. 19, 2009, 9A.; Albert Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples (N.Y. ; Faber and Faber, 1991) ]