Monday, June 27, 2005

American school teachers are getting screwed

The Alberta government hypocritically claims to value education while demanding more and more of teachers while overcrowding classrooms, underfunding schools and derailing the ability of the Alberta Teachers' Association to fight for better teaching and working conditions (forcing teachers into the position of being able to bargain only for salary--a self-fulfilling prophecy that "teachers only care about money"). But as bad as it is here, it's nothing compared to what American governments at local, state and federal level are doing to teachers.

The New York Times says "In your community, you might spot your son's Advanced Placement biology teacher working in the summer as a travel agent. Or perhaps your daughter's English teacher is painting the house down the street. Not counting those who teach summer school, about 20 percent of the country's teachers have second jobs (often during the school year, too), and the majority of those jobs could not be construed as enhancing universal respect for those who teach."

Robert Fisk says West is deluded about "progress" in Iraq

Robert Fisk writes: "How many suicide bombers have now immolated themselves against the Americans and their mercenaries and the new Iraqi army and the new Iraqi police force and their recruits? The figure appears to stand at around 420. Back in the days of Hizbollah’s war against Israeli occupation in Lebanon, a suicide bomber a month was regarded as phenomenal. In the Palestinian 'intifada', one a week was amazing. But in Iraq, we reach seven a day; Wal-Mart suicide bombing that raises the darkest questions about our ability to crush the uprising." Read the rest here.

Sudanese Rebels Say Civilians Being Bombed in the East

"Sudanese rebels who recently clashed with government forces in the east have accused Khartoum of using planes to bomb civilians near the Eritrean border." Read the full UN/IRIN story here.

Italian Judge Orders Arrest of 13 CIA Agents For Kidnapping

Today's Democracy Now! reports that "An Italian judge has ordered the arrest of 13 CIA agents for kidnapping a Muslim cleric off the streets of Milan in 2003 and then transferring him to Egypt where he was reportedly tortured." Read, watch or listen to the full story here.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

All praise is due to Rã

The BRO-LOG may be less active than usual until August 6 because I’m getting married to a better woman than I have any right to, one possessed of tremendous beauty and honour and (fortunately for me) poor judgement of character. Then off to Egypt and Lebanon for five weeks. What a life. Hotep, everyone. All praise is due to Rã.

Meeting nice folks at all these crazy readings and signings

Been meeting plenty of nice folks at my recent Edmonton readings and signings.

Today at the Whyte Ave Chapters I met some very nice folks including one of my former high school students, an excellent young writerfrom the creative writing course I taught at the U of A's faculty of extension, a couple of other aspiring writers, some nice young progressives and an old high school acquaintance who’s all groweded up with her own kids and evrathang. Time, she does fly, eh?

Last night I was at Audrey’s Books and had fun chatting with fine and accomplished novelists Wayne Arthurson and Deanna Kent-McDonald, as well as local poetical terrorist and neat cat Mingus Tourette, whose poetry you have got to check out. The event was organised by NeWest Press which is putting out a book on Edmonton in September featuring a memoir by me about the then-working class neighbourhood of old Strathcona and my near-fatal adventures in tobogganing.

Had great fun last Tuesday with the folks at the southside Chapter’s book club for their stimulating discussion of The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad--thanks for all the insights and especially the chat about Philip K. Dick. And last Saturday I ran into Ray when I was signing at Chapters in Sherwood Park; Ray, a very nice former student of mine, was my "dealer" who got me copies of Samurai Jack; good luck in your new post-secondary pursuits, buddy. Many thanks to the always dynamic Rachel Sentes at Chapters Southpoint for arranging such massive support for so many local authors on the big book extravaganza that day, and to local publicist-supreme Sheri Lee Moshanski for her tireless work and help, not to mention being so nice as to attend so many of my events.

Tomorrow I'm signing books at the Chapters north of WEM between 2 and 4 pm, so please come on out.

Thanks very much to all the terrific staff of Audrey's and Chapters for all the support. You all deserve raises.

My new super-hero novel

Thanks to all the folks who've given me congrats and whuddups on finishing the new manuscript. This is the fifth book I've written, and if God is willing, it will be the second one published--next summer from Del Rey. It's a mixture of farcical and deadly serious, superheroes and politics, so think JLA meets Bamboozled ... or Mystery Men meets Fahrenheit 911.

Why is Alan Moore giving away potentially millions of dollars and being jerked around?

For a rather disappointing discovery that Alan Moore, the most important English-language comic book writer since Stan Lee, is apparently being jerked around, and badly, read this discussion.

For a remarkably long set of KRS-One speech and interview clips, check this.

For more news on the Sister Sophia Stewart and The Matrix + Terminator controversy (did she create the source material for both?), read this.

For an extended discussion by Dr. Michael Eric Dyson on Bill Cosby's controversial statements last year and whether the American "Black middle class" has lost its mind, check out this audio.

Friday, June 24, 2005

New Novel is Complete!

Huzzahs and glories. I'm finally done the first draft of my newest book. No, it's not a sequel to The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad. It's a bizarre new tale about... superheroes. Look for it next summer. Man, am I spaced out.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Zapatistas Put on Red Alert

According to Democracy Now!, Mexico's Zapatista rebel army has put its forces on red alert but it is unclear what has prompted the action. The leader of the Zapatistas, Subcommandante Marcos said in a statement on Monday they were grouping their fighters together, temporarily closing down their radio station and pulling out of villages they govern. Read/watch/listen here.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Upcoming readings and signings

It's a busy month for me, with lots of great chances to meet folks. Please come on out and say howdy.

June 18, Saturday, 4 PM
Chapters, Southside, Calgary Trail, Edmonton

June 18, Saturday, 2:00 - 3:30 PM
Chapters, Sherwood Park

June 21, Tuesday, 7 pm
Chapters, Southside, Calgary Trail, Edmonton
Book Club Discussion of The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad

June 24, Friday, 7:30 PM
Audrey’s Books, 10702 Jasper Ave
Reading with Wayne Arthurson, author of Final Season and Deanna Kent-McDonald, author of West Wind, North Chatter

June 25, Saturday, 1-3 PM
Chapters, 105th Street + Whyte Avenue, Edmonton

June 26, Sunday, 2-4 PM
Chapters, West End, Edmonton (North of WEM)

US corporate media willing propagandists for White House in illegal war

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and her brother David wrote recently: "Recent revelations that the Bush administration has been fabricating news stories, secretly hiring journalists to write puff pieces and credentialing fake reporters at White House news conferences has infuriated the news media.

"Editorials profess to being shocked - shocked! - by the government's covert propaganda campaign in which, as The New York Times revealed March 13, at least 20 federal agencies have spent $250 million creating and sending fake news segments to local TV stations.

"But the media have only themselves to blame for most people - including TV news managers - not being able to distinguish journalism from propaganda. The line between news and propaganda was trampled not only by the public relations agencies hired by the government but also by reporters in the deserts of Iraq. The Pentagon deployed a weapon more powerful than any bomb: the U.S. media."

Thursday, June 16, 2005

BBC: Afrikan boys are being smuggled into UK for "human sacrifice"

From today's BBC Africa Report: "Children are being trafficked into the UK from Africa and used for human sacrifices, a confidential report for the Metropolitan Police suggests. Children are being beaten and even murdered after being labelled as witches by pastors, the report leaked to BBC Radio 4's Today programme said."

Is that not a horrifying enough hook? Well here's a worse one for you--guess who's doing it?

Culture and faith must be the servants of justice and the Divine, never the other way round. And if people are locked in mortal combat with culture or faith, you damn well know which side I think should win.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

What if Bill Cosby were White?

Jonathan Scott asks the question, writing in part: "When was the last time you heard a big white celebrity with moral authority raining down critical bombs on white people’s heads?

"How about the Reverend Billy Graham? I don’t recall him ever blasting white Christians for making a disgrace of Jesus’ name by continuing to support racist leaders and reactionary social policies such as war, capital punishment, the Crime Bill, de-funding public education and U.S. cities in general, de-unionizing the workforce, repealing welfare, the aggressive assault on Affirmative Action, the upward redistribution of wealth in the form of tax cuts for multi-millionaires – each a different cause of racial segregation, widening socioeconomic inequalities, and the moral debasement of our society....

"In this spirit, I have written the sermon that Reverend Billy Graham would have delivered on to the heads of white America had he forgotten, for just a day or two, his own whiteness – if he had been a white Bill Cosby.

The Rise + Fall of an Albertan Hate Group

Tonight at 7 PM on Edmonton's University of Alberta Campus, anti-fascist human rights lawyer Richard Warman speaks on why he went to war against against hate group Western Canada for Us (WCFU).

"When you see people claiming that all people who are mentally disabled and all people who are homosexual should be killed, I think that that makes it imperative on anyone in the community to act and to bring that to a halt," said Warman.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Northern Alberta Alliance on Race Relations (NAARR) and U of A's Department of Political Science. (And I designed the poster.) The event is in Room 158 of the Education South building on 87th Avenue.

Why do North Americans buy so much crap?

Why do North Americans buy so much crap? Why are we so decadent? Ask a "Chinese factory worker."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

FBI whistleblower says Neo-Nazis greatest terrorist threat in US

Democracy Now! carries audio + video interview with ex-FBI agent Mike German who resigned to protest continuing failures of the FBI's counter terrorism program to stop neo-nazis and anti-government militias.

Predator countries reduce predation on eighteen sickliest sheep

Cancelling debt. I'm glad, honest. But maybe we should now start to proceed from a more realistic perspective... after all, who owes whom? What empire grew rich by conquering the entire planet, installing a crushing hegemony of racial supremacy, liquidating tens of millions and enslaving scores of other millions?

Who owes what to whom?

Should the Original World even consider forgiving the debt of the Empire?

Say the word, say it slowly, say it proudly: rep-a-ra-tions....

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Some of the most inspiring advocates of Palestinian freedom are Jewish

Proving once again that some of the most inspiring advocates of Palestinian freedom are Jewish, a "Jewish group in Montreal is accusing city authorities of censorship over its decision to remove a library exhibit of the work of murdered photojournalist Zahra Kazemi. On Friday, members of the Canada Jewish Alliance Against the Occupation held a mock book-banishing ceremony in front of the Côte-St-Luc library where Kazemi's photos had been on display." Rock on, my friends. You made my Sunday.

And may we all take the lesson--sticking up for your own group (however you define that group) is a good thing, and that means making sure your group is doing the right thing by everybody. So, all you rich & famous American-Afrikan athletes, actors and hip hoppers, time to drop the kot-tam Nike endorsements and stop wearing all the other Timberland, Adidas and other products of sweatshop criminality. Didn't like slavery? Didn't like apartheid? Then you must oppose a global dictatorship of sweatshops that brutalises somewhere between 30 and 40 million women and girls.

As The Ecologist writes: "Nike spends more money on advertising and promoting the reputation of its products than most other companies in the world – $1.13 billion in 1998. Celebrities, such as Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Monica Seles and Carl Lewis are paid huge sums of money for their association with the company’s products. In 1998, for example, Nike paid Tiger Woods $28 million and Michael Jordan $45 million.

"Contrast these vast sums with the money Nike spends on philanthropy in the countries where its products are made. In Indonesia, for example, it has spent $100,000 since 1998 on continuing education programmes for Nike workers and $150,000 on small loans to unemployed and disadvantaged people. These payments are also dwarfed by the amount the company spends on strategic philanthropy and cause-related marketing in the US."

Wake up, Black celebs. KRS-One said way back in 1989, "The day of the ignorant rapper is done." I wish he'd been right. So stop helping White corporations owned by the super-rich (who profit from firing poor White, Black and Brown workers in North America) to exploit poor Brown workers overseas. Oh, and read this.

And if you're looking for what to wear that's sweat free, you can start by checking out the side link for Global Exchange , shopping at American Apparel (actually owned by a Montrealer) and reading my interview with Charlie Kernaghan, the man who made Kathie Lee cry.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Brother Aaron Douglas: "Building More Stately Mansions"

Br. Aaron Douglas, one of my favourite artists, painted this brilliant piece in 1944. To the best of my knowledge, there are no books which collect Douglas' work. What a shame. His use of radiant, interlocking geometries of light and colour is electrifying, amplifying the purpose of his body of work--to dramatise the experience of Afrikans from ancient Kemet (Egypt) to Imentet (the West). I call his style Afriluminism; his paintings are a major source of inspiration for my take on science fiction~fantasy, which I call Imhotep-Hop.

You can read up on Br. Douglas through the website of Harlem's historic Schomburg Centre.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The highest international crime is aggression, and Bush is guilty

The Bush cabal began its invasion of Iraq not in 2003, but in 2002. To read, watch or listen, check out the story with by The Nation's Jeremy Scahill on Democracy Now!

Censored: Exhibit of Canadian photographer murdered by Iran's security forces yanked from Montreal library

Zahra Kazemi should be regarded as a Canadian hero, a woman who ultimately lost her life trying to get the world to see repression in Iran through her photographs. Iran's state "security" goons tortured and murdered her for her defense of freedom.

Unfortunately, some people in Canada would like to keep her work out of public view. A Montreal library hosting an exhibit of Kazemi's photographs decided to remove photographs deemed too sympathetic to occupied Palestinians; Kazemi's son gave the library an ultimatum--the whole exhibit or nothing. The museum chose nothing. Check out CBC's take on the story.

It's an odd conflict, since defenders of Israel tend to be critics of Iran. Surely drawing attention to the threat to democracy posed by Iran's repressive theocracy is useful to defenders of Israel. But attention paid to Israel's own repression, apparently, is too high a price.

Double-standards abound in discussion of Middle Eastern issues. For the record, I say we should defend innocent people regardless of their background, and oppose oppression regardless of the background of its perpetrators. Killed is killed, dead is dead and oppressed is oppressed. We need to avoid selective prosecution of moral points. For instance, while the idea that Zionism as practiced now through occupation is racism was embraced in the UN General Assembly for decades, it’s clearly hypocritical for other nationalists to make that charge without pointing to the racism in their own (Canadian, Iraqi, Turkish, Chinese, Russian, etc.) nationalism, which almost certainly crushes someone (Cree, Kurdish, Armenian, Tibetan, Ukrainian, etc.).

I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that all nationalism is intrinsically racist, but I would say that the practice of nationalism so conveniently incorporates racial or other persecution and exploitation that I don’t know if the two can be separated in practice. There's a difference between the nationalism of the oppressed and the nationalism of the oppressor, true, so Black Nationalism can't be equated with White Nationalism (any more than feminism can be equated with male supremacy). But it's clear that once revolutionary nationalists take power, they can become as bad as the people they kicked out (check out the songs and lyrics of Fela Anikulapo Kuti for his devastating attacks on the post-British rulers of Nigeria. Ah, hell, just check out Fela). Nevertheless, selectively targeting Israeli nationalism is clearly discriminatory and scapegoating, just as selectively refusing to discuss it or criticise it is clearly discriminatory as well, with dire consequences for the people of the Occupied Territories and, for decades, Lebanon.

I recently spoke with veteran Canadian journalist Duart Farquharson about his years covering the Middle East and the anti-Muslim/Arab bias he perceives in the CanWest/Global news empire. Vue Weekly ran the article, unfortunately slicing a key paragraph which you'll see below, with the orange portion excised from the print version.

“Nevertheless, despite studies by watchdogs such as the New York based Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) indicating commonplace anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias in corporate North American journalism, at the cultural level, double-standards from critics of both Jewish/Israeli and Muslim/Arab sides seem to define viewpoints on the Middle East. For instance, many Westerners are terrified of Arab governments or Iran possessing nuclear weapons, but Western media is silent on Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons. At the same time, many Muslim/Arab proponents elevate human rights abuses by the Israeli government inside the Occupied Territories far beyond even more appalling and widespread human rights crimes conducted by the regimes of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Palestine and Turkey today, or of Iraq or Afghanistan just a few years ago.”

But now read the whole article to find out about how a Canadian media giant crushes criticism of Israel.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Zimbabwean Brother writes Canada's top doctoral thesis in Education

A Zimbabwean Brother at the University of Alberta has "won a national award for the best doctoral thesis in international education," writes Iris Tse in the U of A Express News.

Tse continues: "Education student Edward Shizha, whose doctoral thesis is entitled Indigenous Knowledge and Languages in the Teaching and Learning of Science: a Focus on a Rural Primary School in Zimbabwe, beat out competitors from McGill University, the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, the University of Calgary, and the University of Western Ontario to capture the Michel Laferriere Award from the Comparative and International Education Society of Canada."

Read the rest of the story here.

Afri-Can Lit pioneer Br. George Elliot Clarke reads at U of A today at 3:30

Dr. George Elliot Clarke received an honorary doctorate (to be added to his real one) from the University of Alberta today, and if you'd like to hear him perform some of his poetry (he's the celebrated talent behind Whylah Falls and Beatrice Chancy), he'll be at the U of A Humanities Centre in Room 4-29 at 3:30. You can watch a clip of him here, and below you can read part of what I wrote about him for See Magazine in 1999:

"The man is George. You could call him the whole bit: Dr. George Elliot Clarke, internationally renowned writer, academic and literary historian. But I can only think of him as Brother George, the Black man from a little strip of cold, wet land called Nova Scotia, Canada’s Alabama, home to centuries-old Black communities and the racist response against them.

"Brother George has made it his life’s work to map the literary history of those African-Canadians and their kinfolk across the country, to weave a luxurious verbal tapestry about Black folk in the Great White North so glittering that no one could turn away from its elegance and beauty and pain.

"I first met Brother George at a rally in Ottawa, 1991, when I was a verbally blasting the police after the Montreal cops shot and killed a brother for Driving While Black. George introduced himself to me, and I got my first taste of his personality, his corn-popping, hot-buttered laugh, his intense intellect, his next-door decency. I had no idea he’d end up one of the leading figures in Can-Lit, a poet, screenwriter, lit-historian and multi-award winner who’s now teaching world literature at the U of T.

"When I meet him again at a recent community dinner, everybody is charmed by him. One brother says that within five minutes of him entering the room, George seems like an old friend who’s come home. So how does brilliant, accomplished, defiantly pro-Black Brother George come to be writing an opera called Beatrice Chancy?

'Opera has a reputation for being an elitist form,' he explains. 'But we have to remember that opera was originally a poor-person’s art. That’s where all the so-called élite art forms came from—performances for ordinary, everyday people. Including poetry. And Black arts such as the blues and jazz came about for the poor working person who wanted to relax. It was Black people who made Bessie Smith a star. They went out and bought her records even when they didn’t have record players, because wanted to make sure she’d be a star because they recognised the significance of her voice.'

“'A condition of being a Black artist in Canada is that unlike in the US, our audiences are guaranteed to be racially mixed,' as opposed to exclusively Black. But while Clarke is committed to African-Canadian audiences, 'in attempting to write an opera libretto, I couldn’t afford to think of it as being something that only White people are going to see. But why should opera be considered outside or not appropriate for Black issues, experience or history? According to Harold Cruse in The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, the only original stage art that African Americans created is the musical. So operas are just a shade different, one step removed.'”

Monday, June 06, 2005

Conscious Hip Hop

Check out the new side links section called "Righteous Rhymes" for E-Townian, Albertan, Canadian and other conscious hip hop with great music. And can anyone get me information about Majid, who's described as a Palestinian hip hop star? The Queer Arab says his video, "My Struggle," is excellent. I'd like to see his video or listen to his music. If you have information, email me.

And there are plenty of other news links on THE BRO-LOG, everyone, from links on Afrikan History to links on countering racial supremacy. So check 'em out.

US Ballistic Missile "Defense" fulfills goal of nuclear first-strike capacity with impunity

Br. Sean Gonsalves tells it like it is after attending a meeting with world-renowned peace activist Dr. Helen Caldicott. BMD, "Star Wars," "missile shield"--call it what you like, but it aint gonna work. And whether or not it works, pickpocketting American and Canadian taxpayers and putting the money into the pockets of hyper-rich industrial death-dealers (just you wait, Canadians--what Paul Martin says and what he does are two different things) inevitably provokes a vast new arms race.

Why? Because US rivals China and Russia know that the ultimate goal of US ballistic missile "defense" is first-strike capacity with impunity, i.e., a policy of mass-murdering nuclear aggression against civilians not practiced by anyone since the US president ordered the immolation of all women, children and old people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Historian Gar Alperovitz has demonstrated that the atomic vengeance was not only entirely unnecessary, but that the US president knew it was unnecessary while some of his conservative military advisors pleaded with him not to go through with his horrific plans.

Ralph Nader: Time to Impeach Bush

Ralph Nader, who's done more as an individual and an organiser to improve safety, governmental accountability and material quality of life for Americans than any living human being, argues alongside Kevin Zeese that the grounds upon which to impeach George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are expansive. Read their discussion, and then watch Nader's interview on Washington Journal.

Dyson vs. Cosby: Br. Lawrence Hill's take

Brother Lawrence Hill, author of such novels as Any Known Blood and such social texts as Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada, has a few angry words to share about both Bill Cosby and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson in his review of Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost its Mind?

Br. Hill's a fine cat. I met him in E-Town a couple of times; during the first, he was reading from Any Known Blood and was a fine story teller--very funny. Recently I read his article in The Walrus, which introduced to history-lite Canadians the subject of North American Afrikan self-determination, among other things. Check the Brother out.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Matrix: Did a Sister get script-jacked?

Another fascinating piece on the controversy--did Sister Sophia Stewart write the source material for both The Terminator and The Matrix film series? See what Sabrina Ford has to say, and then check out the source material yourself, including visuals.

TIME Magazine's Top 100 Films List: THE FLY is there... but how come aint no Brothers up on the wall?

Morris O'Kelly, producer of The Tavis Smiley Show, writes at length about the significance of TIME's white-out in their Top 100 Films list, and in particular that the presence of The Fly and Finding Nemo combined with the absence of Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X and Antwone Fisher is an insult. I agree with Br. Morris. What films--either by or about Blackfolks, or hell, at least starring a Brother or Sister, do you think should be on the list? Email me and let me know.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

McQuaig: US Occupiers Kill 100 Prisoners in Iraq, Guantanamo; Torture Countless Others

Linda McQuaig writes: "A 22-year-old prisoner at a US detention centre in Afghanistan died in December 2002 after being chained by his wrists to the top of his cell for four days and beaten until, according to the coroner, he resembled someone run over by a bus. During his interrogations, the prisoner cried 'Allah' whenever he was struck, which apparently amused his US interrogators and encouraged them to strike more. One later explained: 'Everybody heard him cry out and thought it was funny'....

"Accusing Washington of having become 'a leading purveyor and practitioner' of torture, Amnesty [International] called on Congress last week to appoint an independent commission.... But the death of this young Afghan taxi driver — who, it turns out, his interrogators believed to have been innocent — as well as more than 100 other detainee deaths and countless torture allegations at the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay prisons have failed to provoke any official investigation aimed at holding top people in the Bush administration to account."