Category Archives: History

Quote of the day: America’s deep racial divide


Following up on our previous post, few have expressed the deep nature of the impact of America’s deep racial divide than a former Philadelphia high school teacher.

Jesse Williams, who plays Dr. Jackson Avery in ABC television’s hit series Grey’s Anatomy, has devoted much of his recent time to involvement in Black Lives Matter, producing and narrating a documentary film, Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement, for BET, where it aired last month.

Sunday night Williams was honored by BET with its Humanitarian Award, and his acceptance speech is one of the best statements we’ve heard in recent years on the plight of black Americans:

“Now, this award, this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country. The activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do. All right? It’s kind of basic mathematics. The more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize.

“Now, this is also in particular for the black women in particular who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.

“Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill white people every day. So what’s going to happen is we’re going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function in ours.

“Now, I got more, y’all.

“Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday. So, I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him , so I don’t want to hear any more about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him on television, and then going home to make a sandwich.

“Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better to live in 2012, than it is to live in 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner. Tell that to Sandra Bland. Tell that to Darrien Hunt.

“Now, the thing is, though, all of us in here getting money that alone isn’t going to stop this. All right? Now dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back. To put someone’s brand on our body when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies and now we pray to get paid with brands for our bodies. There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There’s no tax they haven’t levied against us. And we pay all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here.

You’re free, they keep telling us, but she would have been alive if she hadn’t acted so free.

“Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter but, you know what, though, the hereafter is a hustle. We want it now. And let’s get a couple of things straight here, just a little side note. The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job. All right, stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for black people, then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.

“We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo. And we’re done watching, and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us. Burying black people out of sight and out of mind, while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil — black gold. Ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them. Gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is, though, the thing is, that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real. Thank you.”

We would have loved to have included a video of the speech, but, alas, WordPress allows us to post only YouTube and Vimeo offerings.

When we searched YouTube, all the video postings had been replaced by this:

BLOG Jesse

Viacom, the owner of BET and its brand, is, in turn, owned by a very old, very rich white man, Sumner Redstone, who also owns the Los Angeles Clippers.

And who is Redstone?

Well, consider his remarks recorded by then-companion V. Stiviano, herself of African and Hispanic heritage:

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to? You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.”

You can hear the whole recording here.

Chart of the day: America’s deep racial divide


From a new survey from the Pew Research Center:

BLOG Race

The Obama/Clinton lethal Asian agenda dissected


In Asia, far more than in the United States, the past is present, and nowhere more so than in Japan, where the Obama administration, following policy guidelines laid down by Hillary Clinton during her tenure as Secretary of State, is reigniting tensions and imperial ambitions thought stifled by defeat in World War II.

In the latest edition of The Empire Files, her weekly series for teleSUR English, Abby Martin interviews Peter Kuznick, Professor of History and Director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University.

Kuznick is a specialist in the history of America’s decision to use nuclear weapons on an already defeated Japan, and has followed closely the decision of the Obama administration to revive Japan’s military under the right wing government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In do so and at the express urging of Barack Obama, the Abe government has scrapped legislation drafted by the post-World War II U.S. occupation government barring Japan from possessing an offensive military and has revived Cold War strategies in pursuit of what Hillary Clinton called America’s new Pacific Century.

It’s a chilling story, critically important for understand just what a Clinton presidency would mean for a world already trembling on the brink of yet another economic collapse in the wake of the Brexit.

From teleSUR English:

The Empire Files: Untold History of Imperial Japan & the Bomb

Program notes:

Obama’s high-profile trip to Hiroshima was accompanied by a media storm that gave endless justifications for the US use of the atomic bomb on Japanese civilians. The myths are widely accepted in society, and underpin the notion of American exceptionalism.

Abby Martin interviews Dr. Peter Kuznick, co-author with Director Oliver Stone of the bestselling book and HBO series “The Untold History of the United States,” about the real story behind the use of the atomic bombs—as well as the untold history of Imperial Japan, its role today for the US Empire, and the danger for new war on the horizon.

‘Yes Minister’ explained the Brexit. . . in 1983


Back in the early 1980s, Yes Minister, a genially cynical British comedy, explored the hypocrisies of governance in a faded empire.

In this clip, via Iceland Pirate Party founder Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Permanent Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby explains Britain’s policy stance vis a vis the European Union [AKA Common Market]. It’s eerily prescient, given the events now unfolding on the Continent:

Yes Minister — Why Britain Joined the European Union

The media connived to lift Trump, save him cash


Until Bill Clinton came along, the Federal Communications Commission imposed a strict limit on coverage of active candidates for national office, called the equal time rule.

If you gave five minutes to one candidate’s positions, his rivals were entitled to equal time.

But the Clinton neoliberal regime decided to lift the restraints, and it was Donald Trump who would be the biggest beneficiary, as revealed in a new study from Harvard University Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.

Two charts covering the 2015 calendar year tell the story quite succinctly:

BLOG Trump Ads value

BLOG Trump coverage tilt

So there you have it.

At the expense of other candidates, the mainstream media handed Trump exposure that would have cost him millions, and the coverage was remarkably favorable.

Only now, it seems, have Trump’s most dangerous qualities come to the fore, a case of neglect that will further diminish whatever respect Americans had left for their mass media.

So what about Bernie Sanders?

From the report:

Sanders’ initial poll position meant that, when he was reported in the news, the coverage was sure to have a negative component. He was in the unenviable position of a “likely loser.” At the same time, his initial poll standing proved advantageous as the year unfolded. As his poll numbers ticked upward, he was portrayed as a “gaining ground” candidate, a favorable storyline buttressed by reports of increasingly large crowds and enthusiastic followers. “The overflow crowds Sanders has been drawing in Iowa and New Hampshire,” said USA Today, “are signs that there is ‘a real hunger’ for a substantive discussion about Americans’ economic anxieties . . . .”  The “real hunger” extended also to journalists, who are drawn to a candidate who begins to make headway against an odds-on favorite. It’s a David vs. Goliath story, the same story that helped propel Gary Hart’s challenge to Walter Mondale in 1984 and John McCain’s challenge to George W. Bush in 2000. A challenger also gives journalists what they relish most—a competitive race. “Hillary Clinton can’t afford to ignore Bernie Sanders any longer,” said a CNN piece. “She has a serious problem on her hands. Sanders is showing that his campaign poses a genuine threat. He is drawing massive crowds months before the caucuses and primaries begin and without much of a staff to speak of.”

Strictly in terms of tonal balance—good news vs. bad news—Sanders was the most favorably reported candidate—Republican or Democratic—during the invisible primary. Figure 5 shows the month-to-month balance of Sanders’ coverage excluding statements that were neutral in tone. In the first four months of 2015, befitting a “likely loser,” Sanders was not getting much coverage and what little of it he got was almost evenly balanced between positive and negative.  Thereafter, his coverage shot into positive territory, rising rapidly before slipping somewhat as a result of his less-than-stellar performance in the early pre-primary Democratic debates.

Sanders’ issue positions also netted him positive coverage. Although they accounted for only about 7 percent of his coverage, they were a source of “good news.” News statements about Sanders’ stands on income inequality, the minimum wage, student debt, and trade agreements were more than three-to-one positive over negative.That ratio far exceeded those of other top candidates, Republican or Democratic.

Here’s how the coverage played out:

BLOG Sanders

Quote of the day: Obama’s nuclear madness


While Barack Obama holds the Nobel Peace Prize, he’s one of the most bellicose presidents in recent history

As the New York Times reported last month, “the current administration has reduced the nuclear stockpile less than any other post-Cold War presidency,” a trend confirmed by this graphic analysis from the Federation of American Scientists:

BLOG Nukes

But it doesn’t stop there. Barack Obama has also launched a drive to replace the entire American nuclear arsenal, a process that could cost American taxpayers an astounding one trillion dollars.

But to what end?

That brings us to the QOTD from Andrew Cockburn, writing for TomDispatch:

[I]n the Cold War as today, the idea of “nuclear war-fighting” could not survive scrutiny in a real-world context. Despite this self-evident truth, the U.S. military has long been the pioneer in devising rationales for fighting such a war via ever more “modernized” weapons systems. Thus, when first introduced in the early 1960s, the Navy’s invulnerable Polaris-submarine-launched intercontinental missiles — entirely sufficient in themselves as a deterrent force against any potential nuclear enemy — were seen within the military as an attack on Air Force operations and budgets. The Air Force responded by conceiving and successfully selling the need for a full-scale, land-based missile force as well, one that could more precisely target enemy missiles in what was termed a “counterforce” strategy.

The drive to develop and build such systems on the irrational pretense that nuclear war fighting is a practical proposition persists today.  One component of the current “modernization” plan is the proposed development of a new “dial-a-yield” version of the venerable B-61 nuclear bomb. Supposedly capable of delivering explosions of varying strength according to demand, this device will, at least theoretically, be guidable to its target with high degrees of accuracy and will also be able to burrow deep into the earth to destroy buried bunkers. The estimated bill — $11 billion — is a welcome boost for the fortunes of the Sandia and Los Alamos weapons laboratories that are developing it.

The ultimate cost of this new nuclear arsenal in its entirety is essentially un-knowable. The only official estimate we have so far came from the Congressional Budget Office, which last year projected a total of $350 billion. That figure, however, takes the “modernization” program only to 2024 — before, that is, most of the new systems move from development to actual production and the real bills for all of this start thudding onto taxpayers’ doormats. This year, for instance, the Navy is spending a billion and a half dollars in research and development funds on its new missile submarine, known only as the SSBN(X). Between 2025 and 2035, however, annual costs for that program are projected to run at $10 billion a year. Similar escalations are in store for the other items on the military’s impressive nuclear shopping list.

Blood on the newsroom floor. . .media shifts


Today, a graphic post following up on yesterday’s post on shifting revenues in the media world.

First up, from the Atlantic, a look at the shift in advertising revenues form 1925 to 2015 as new media emerged, starting with radio, followed by television. and now the Internet:

BLOG Journo ads

Also from the same page of Atlantic, a the overall advertising revenues for all news media over time from 1925 to 2015, expressed as a percentage of the Gross National Product:

BLOG Journo revenues

Next, from the Columbia Journalism Review. a look at the dwindling newspaper advertising revenues, with online advertising growing as revenues of the papers’ dead tree versions fall:

BLOG Journo newspaper ads

Finally, where do we get our news?

BLOG Journo keyThe answer from Digital News Report 2016 from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, an exhaustive survey of news media in the developed world, including detailed analyses of the audiences for a wide range of media and featuring a demographic analysis of just who trusts/distrusts the sources of information we rely on to follow the world around us [the key is to the right]:

BLOG Journo sources