Friday, December 30, 2005

On admiring and exploiting Afrika

"If the history of Africa tells us anything, it is that producing great art is no guarantee of winning anyone's respect. It seems incredible, when you look at the masterpieces of African art in the British Museum, that exploiters and imperialists could ever have dismissed the disparate peoples of Africa as lesser breeds, ripe for the plucking. Africa has created some of the greatest art that ever existed, and the brilliance of it has been known to Europeans for a long time.... None of this prevented the British from eradicating the entire civilisation in a single bloody "punitive expedition" in 1897.... Great art whose perpetrators were despised: it is an image of Africa's cultural history. And it continues today, because the art that makes it into galleries abroad is not, by definition, the culture of Africa's excluded millions.

Aaron McGruder vs. Condoleezza Rice

"There are two things people really want to know about the cartoonist Aaron McGruder. The first is precisely what he said to Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, at an awards ceremony three years ago.... Beforehand, McGruder had told anyone who would listen that Rice was a mass murderer (it was not long after the invasion of Afghanistan) and that he would have no qualms about telling her so to her face. 'I had a brief encounter with her and I knew I had to say something. I said something like: "I don't want you guys to kill me so I'm just going to mind my own business." I was eminently aware when I met Condi that she could make my whole family disappear. I have never been fearless. I've always had a healthy fear of this government.

"The second is precisely how a young, left-wing African-American has managed to sell the Boondocks, a syndicated cartoon strip that combines the messages of black power and liberal-left politics, blended with hip-hop humour, to more than 300 newspapers."


On the other hand, the trailer for V for Vendetta is here. Alan Moore, who wrote the original (and excellent) comic, is quite unhappy with producer Joel Silver. "In [a] press release, Joel Silver, as well as announcing that the release date November the 5th 2005 was the 100th anniversary of Guy Fawkes attempt on Parliament, instead of the 400th anniversary, also said of Alan, 'he was very excited about what Larry had to say and Larry sent the script, so we hope to see him sometime before we're in the UK. We'd just like him to know what we're doing and to be involved in what we're trying to do together.'

"Alan felt, basically, that his name was being used in vain. Not only had he expressed the opposite to Larry, but his endorsement was being used as a selling point for a movie - the reason he'd requested his credit and association be dropped from all of these movies."

The trailer looks like the film will be an exciting action pic, but very heavy-handed. The British fascist party in charge is so obviously Nazi-like (down to colour choices in uniforms and posters and the party leader looking like Hitler) that the sadder, grimmer truth will be masked: fascism, as it currently exists or exists in part, does not and will not look like the Nazis. It will look heroic, adventurous, decent, honest, "family values"-oriented, good for business, patriotic... in other words, it is and will be an effective con job. Let's remember that imperialism, which slaughtered more people than the Nazis, didn't look like a pack of slavering monsters at home... it looked and smelled like civilisation. Only the victims saw the true face. Fascism today looks like... business suits, press conferences, news stories of heroic and victimised soldiers, pleas for "unity" in the face of "the enemy," and childish phrases like "the war on terror" and "intelligence failures" swallowed mindlessly by a cowardly, obedient or otherwise yassuh-bossing press corp. That's at home. Overseas it's 1.5 million Iraqis killed by sanctions, including 643,000 children under five... and countless babies horribly mutated by depleted uranium, the WMD that "our" side simply loves to use.

On a lighter note...
Superman Returns is coming back... uh... I mean, it's a new film, and it's called Superman Returns, which really means more Superman films will be in the theatre, rather than it being a story about Superman going away and coming back (we had the same problem with Batman Returns... and that's not the royal "we." Why no "James Bond Returns"?) . The trailer is mighty swell. And for whatever sneaky, bait-and-switch reasons, when you click on "FULL SCREEN," you actually get a trailer for something called The Fountain with Hugh Jackman, some bizarre SF/F film which looks even better than Superman. Check it out, too.

I'm looking forward to Freedomland, the new Sam Jackson film based on one of my favourite novels of the last ten years, written by Richard Price (the film is, too). View the trailer here.

Spike Lee's next joint: Denzel Washington + Jodie Foster in THE INSIDE MAN

Spike Lee's "next project, The Inside Man, features a stellar cast headed by Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster and Clive Owen." Click here to view the trailer.

"These days, it's all too easy to overlook what [Spike Lee]... has accomplished during the past two decades. But there's ample evidence to back up the notion that Lee is a pioneer, an artist whom noted Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. likens to 'the Jackie Robinson of the film community.'

"Nineteen years after becoming a cause celebre
with his debut feature film, She's Gotta Have It, the prolific moviemaker is still waiting to hit one out of the park. Even his best-known films have polarized film critics; and despite two nominations, Lee has yet to hear his name called out on Oscar night."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The case for Black marriage

Ss. Tricia Hylton writes: "Out of every ethnic group in Canada, Black Canadians marry the least. If marriage remains the foundation of a strong and stable family and community then clearly, this foundation is missing from our culture....

"When we look at a number of Canada's ethnic groups, a startling picture emerges. In 2001, 59 per cent of Chinese Canadians, 66 per cent of South Asian Canadians, 57 per cent of Filipino Canadians, 60 per cent of Arab Canadians, and 57 per cent of Korean-Canadians [households]were headed by married couples. The divorce rates for these groups were three per cent, 2.5 per cent, 2.6 per cent, 3.6 per cent, and two per cent respectively.

"Among Black Canadians, however, the situation is turned upside down. Here we have the lowest marriage rate at 41 per cent, coupled with the highest divorce rate at 8.6 per cent. Among ethnic Canadians, we marry the least and divorce the most; as a result our family structure is the weakest.

"As we continue to look at the Black Canadian family, some other interesting trends emerge. Of significance, in 2001, the percentage of lone-parent families was 27 per cent compared with 15.6 per cent of Canadian families overall. This rate was not only highest among ethnic groups, but highest among all Canadians."

For information on Afrikan families and technology, click here.

To check out the Black Family Channel, click here.

The Afrikan-American magazine Family Digest is here.

Black Family Development is here.

Aunt Jemima's Pancakes of Torture and Syrup of Lies

"This month, as Dr. Rice was speaking to the Europeans, a man called Khaled al-Masri was speaking by satellite link-up to a news conference in Washington.

"Mr. al-Masri is a German citizen of Lebanese origin. On holiday in Macedonia, he was kidnapped and handed over to Americans. He was taken to a prison in Afghanistan where he was held incommunicado for five months and tortured. He was also sodomized by his jailers.

"Dr. Rice had said only that, 'Any policy will sometimes result in errors, and when it happens we will do everything to rectify it.' That's odd, because Mr. al-Masri was denied entry to the US last weekend when he arrived in Atlanta."

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

On Munich, murder, and the power of propaganda

As'ad Abu-Khalil writes: "Spielberg on Munich: the humanization of Israeli killers, and the dehumanization of Palestinian civilians. Or the Celebration of the Israeli Killing Machine. And who is retaliating against whom in the Arab-Israeli conflict? THIS is the question.

"It reminds me of a line that George Carlin—yes, that Carlin—used to use in his comedy routine and went roughly like this: 'why do “we” call Israeli terrorists commandos, and we call Palestinian commandos terrorists?' That line never got a laugh the two times I saw him use it with a live audience. The thrust of the Spielberg movie is simple, fanfare notwithstanding: Israeli killers are conscientious and humane people, while Palestinians are always--no matter what--killers.

"And typical of US movies where Arabs appear, Arabs when they speak Arabic never need subtitles. We need them when people speak in French and German, but Arabic is not important. It is not important to know what cheap natives say; we only need to know what expensive people say: Europeans and Israelis. And do you notice that Hollywood still portrays Israelis as Europeans: they still don’t want to accept that some half of all Israelis come from Asian and African countries. This makes it easier for the White Man to identify with them."

Also check out Jack Shaheen's book Reel Bad Arabs on Hollywood vilification of them A-Rab types. You can listen to an audio interview with Shaheen here.

TONIGHT on THE TERRORDOME at 6 pm: Novelist Eden Robinson

Eden Robinson is a thirty-something West Coast writer of the Heisla and Heilstuk nations from Kitimat, BC. Her collection Traplines was as a New York Times Editor’s Choice and Notable Book of the Year; it also won the Winifred Holtby Prize for the best first work of fiction in the Commonwealth. Robinson’s first novel, Monkey Beach, was nominated for the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award of 2000. She spoke in Edmonton on December 16 for a celebration of indigenous writing.

We’ll also listen to songs by Metis actor, writer and singer Andrea Menard from her debut album The Velvet Devil.

To tune in via the links on the left sidebar, click on The Terrordome, or listen to live radio in Edmonton in CJSR FM88.

Wait for it... the sexy Bin Ladin?

"...aspiring pop star Wafah Dufour walks into the media lunch hub Michael’s, in Midtown Manhattan. Ms. Dufour passes by Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue, who is lunching with designer Isaac Mizrahi, then stops at the next table to meet former Sony Music chairman Tommy Mottola and NBC head Jeff Zucker.

“'You know Wafah bin Ladin?'” Valvo asks the men loudly.

“'Wafah Dufour,'” she snaps, shooting him a look that’s more pleading than hostile.

"The niece of the man who orchestrated the destruction of the World Trade Center seventy-eight blocks to the south has a point. After September 11, the name bin Laden turned radioactive, borderline satanic-by-association. It made her feel cursed, presumed guilty—made her wonder if it might keep her from ever getting a record deal. So she took her mother’s maiden name, Dufour, which makes for a better first impression, even though the bin Laden taint is always there."

And here's what the BBC says.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Ghana aims at becoming Africa's "Israel"

"Ghana, through whose ports millions of Africans passed on their way to plantations in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, wants its descendants to come back.

Taking Israel as its model, Ghana hopes to persuade the descendants of enslaved Africans to think of Africa as their homeland - to visit, invest, send their children to be educated and even retire here.

"'We want Africans everywhere, no matter where they live or how they got there, to see Ghana as their gateway home,' J. Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, the tourism minister, said on a recent day. 'We hope we can help bring the African family back together again.'"

(Photo depicts Ghana's National Theatre.)

Scumbags deface E-Town synagogue

"Edmonton police have launched an investigation after a Nazi swastika was spray-painted on the side of a local synagogue on Christmas Eve, the latest in several attacks at Beth Shalom Synagogue over the past five years.

"Beth Shalom officials were alerted to the vandalism on Sunday, which coincided with the beginning of the eight-day Jewish festival of Hanukkah."

My deep condolences to the members of Edmonton's Jewish community over their having to face this petty, cowardly attack during their holy season. I've noticed far more Nazi skinheads in E-Town this year than I have over the last ten years, a time during which they were in obvious decline. It's distressing, to say the least; I hope all folks in the anti-racist movement and similarly minded people can band together to stop these cowards and thugs from inflicting terror and violence on innocent people.

You can check out the Canadian Jewish Congress's website here for more information on their work, including in fighting anti-Jewish bigotry.

It's worthwhile to note that there are anti-racist skinheads, too--Skin Heads Against Race Prejudice (SHARP). You can check out one of their Canadian websites here, with links to other anti-racist sites.

Monday, December 26, 2005

South Africa, Assassinations + Genocide

"There are layers of secrets to South African history that no one seems to want to dig up any more. Take for instance, the hi-tech murder of the president of Mozambique, who died in a deliberately created plane crash. In case you think airplane crashes don't mean much, look at what happened in Rwanda after one little plane mysteriously crashed.

"Try to make sense, for instance, of the news article airily glossing over the fact that the United Nations 'forgot' to analyse the data from the black box from the plane that crashed (and which kick-started the Rwandan genocide.) Read 'Rwanda Black Box Not Linked to Plane Crash'. And consider the implications of deliberate French involvement: France Accused of Genocide. For a first person street-level read, there is an online book, Rwanda: The Ethnic Trap.

"All of the above is to show the ripple effects possible from a minor incident. Much like the United States conveniently will not see another Kennedy as president, thanks to another little plane crash. (Gee, it's funny that so many Democrats, compared with Republicans, happen to die in plane crashes, isn't it?)"

EU condemns Iranian president's remarks

"The European Union has cranked up pressure on Iran, condemning its president's latest outbursts against Israel and warning Tehran over its nuclear programme in draft summit conclusions."

I have no idea whether Iranian president Ahmadinejad actually believes his sickening claim that Nazi mass-murder of European Jews didn't happen. Maybe he really is that naive, or stupid, or maybe he's willing to buy into the very Nazi mindset and propaganda that would happily endorse the mass-murder of the Iranian people.

But whatever Ahmedinejad's up to, he's providing the governments of the United States and Britain with the pretext they desire to wage a massively one-sided war against Iran.

I loathe dictatorships of any kind--theocratic or otherwise, which, as in the case of Iran, regularly crushes the civil and human rights of Kurds, Bahais, atheists, queer people, and other ordinary dissenters. But as much as I despise Iran's government, I have no desire to see the Anglo-American axis bomb and slaughter hundreds of thousands of people to advance their hegemony in the middle east. BBC's take on Ahmedinejad is here.

I hope Iran gets a new president as soon as possible.

For more eloquent words than I could ever write on the perverse enterprise called "Holocaust denial," click here.

Noam Chomsky v. Alan Dershowitz: A Debate on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

For the audio-video debate, click here.

Chomsky says during his opening remarks: "There was no effort to conceal the fact that Gaza disengagement was in reality West Bank expansion. The official plan for disengagement stated that Israel will permanently take over major population centers, cities, towns and villages, security areas and other places of special interest to Israel in the West Bank. That was endorsed by the U.S. ambassador, as it had been by the President, breaking sharply with U.S. policy.

"Along with the disengagement plan, Israel announced investment of tens of millions of dollars in West Bank settlements. Prime Minister Sharon immediately approved new housing units in the town of Maale Adumim that’s to the east of Jerusalem, the core of the salient that divides the southern from the central Bantustan, to use Benvenisti’s term, and also announced other expansion plans.

"There is near unanimity that all of this violates international law."

And for an entirely inappropriate image, click here (keep in mind I'm a deep admirer of Dr. Chomsky).

Nigeria says it will provide free AIDS drugs

"Nigeria will start providing AIDS drugs for free next year, the government agency in charge of fighting AIDS said, scrapping fees that aid workers say deny access to treatment for poor patients."

Saturday, December 24, 2005

New York state senator condemns NY gov, mayor, for crushing transit strike

Another vicious assault on working people's rights... made all the easier when most of those workers are of Afrikan and indigenous ("Hispanic") descent. The wealthy, arrogant mayor repeatedly called the transit workers "selfish" and "thugs."Astounding how such selfish thugs are so productive that they successfully, daily operate one of the world's most complex public transit systems.

Check out the union's page regarding strike news here.

Check out: "Local 100 President Roger Toussaint Denounces Attack on Transit Workers."

Man tasered to death on Christmas Eve a block or so from my home

The title says it all. I don't have many details yet, but while driving home on Christmas even I couldn't help but see seven or eight police cruisers cordoning off part of my neighbourhood.

I asked a cameraman who was onscene with a satellite truck what in the hell was happening, and he told me the police had responded to a call about a man who was behaving in a menacing fashion. Apparently the police then shot him with a taser.

The CFRN news report at 6 pm (which I just took a moment to watch) confirmed that the man died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. The reporter said that the police would not confirm that he had been tasered four times. A witness described the man's behaviour as erratic--yelling in the middle of the street and demanding help (for what, the witness did not know).

A few things to keep in mind:

1. This is a damned horrible Christmas Eve for at least one family, and probably many others.

2. The police have a difficult job, one I wouldn't want to perform, and deserve the same right to a presumption of innocence as the rest us.

3. It's better for the police to be using tasers than pistols, no question.

4. Tasers are potentially deadly weapons. For instance, see:

"Man Dies After Police Use Stun Gun on Him," and "Police back Tasers despite deaths"

"Another taser death"


"Another Taser Victim Dies Shortly After Shock"

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

USA could become a "constitutional dictatorship"--former Nixon counsel

"If you think it disrespectful to discuss dictators, President Bush and the Constitution in the same column, be sure to give John Dean a call. The former White House counsel under President Nixon wrote a paper in 2002 in which he discussed the possibility of a America becoming a 'constitutional dictatorship.'

'''The distinction between a 'constitutional dictator' and a strong president is remarkably thin, if nonexistent,' he wrote.

"All this eavesdropping business reminded me of C. William Michael's 2002 book No Greater Threat: America After September 11 and the Rise of the National Security State.

"Besides providing a detailed analysis of the USA Patriot Act, he lays out the 12 most common characteristics of a national security state."

Ten facts about Kwanzaa

Here's a useful discussion about the seven-day Africentric celebration and reflection called Kwanzaa.

Mumia Abu Jamal on Richard Pryor

Br. Mumia speaks--check out this audio.

This Wednesday, check out the conclusion to "Richard Pryor: Comedy, Life and Death" on The Terrordome.

You can also check out more on Mumia's case here.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Dave Chappelle is a Muslim?

Yup. Aint that unexpected? Plus apparently he and I share a birthday.

I find Br. Dave's comedy material harder to comprehend in light of his faith, and I'm currently trying to find out whether his conversion was recent. Very odd. He's a brilliant stand-up comic, no doubt, and often with a valid social message. His sketches are a whole nuther surah, you dig?

However, he's not crazy or on crack, despite his abrupt departure from his highly celebrated and lucrative TV show which has been renewed in a $50 million deal.

You can also check out The Chappelle Theory. It's full of bizarre theories, including the claim that Chappelle was edged off the air by a "a secret cabal of powerful African-American leaders from the business, political, and entertainment industries." Wow. Don't you wish we were organised enough to do that? Kot-tam.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Night Before Christmas (in Iraq 2005)

'Twas the night before Christmas and here in Iraq,
Little sister had shrapnel removed from her back.
The napalm had given young Jamal such a scare,
That he climbed up the chimney with soiled underwear.

"While mom in her burka and I with prosthesis,
Dragged our war-torn old bodies through Jamal's scattered feces.
The children were nestled in a corner of the basement,
While the baby played with severed limbs and shell casements."

And if you're looking for what the US and its allies have been using since 1991 as genetic and prenatal stocking stuffers, check out this and this.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

New Spike Lee biography paints complex portrait

"What becomes clear in Spike Lee: That's My Story and I'm Sticking to It is that Lee is a far more complex filmmaker than many realize. His public image veers between hothead - his portrayal of Mookie throwing a trash can through a pizzeria window in Do the Right Thing is indelibly etched in the nation's moviegoing memory."

Also see "'Gangsta' image clouds role of education", which says in part:

"When controversial filmmaker Spike Lee was growing up in Brooklyn, he said he aspired to be like the educated black men he saw reading books and going to college.

"Today the images in society glorified by gangsta rap — pimping and violence — are overtaking the role education should play, Lee said during a lecture at Middle Tennessee State University.
"Young black kids didn't grow up wanting to be a pimp or a stripper like they do now," Lee said of his own youth. "You might think I'm making generalizations, but I don't think I am. That's how serious this stuff is."

Young Black males and university success: the Manual

"Vainglorious: How Today's Black Men Graduate From College" examines the strategies twelve African American men used to be successful in school and graduate from college. Written by John P. Hamilton, Ed.D., (co-author of The Elevator is Broken) has created a tool for educators from elementary to college as well as parents to utilize."

Why shouldn't Afrikans have Afrikan names?

"What's in a name? If it's an African one, and you're of African descent, then it's connected to your ancestors and what your purpose in life is, says Yeyefini Efunbolade, a Yoruba priestess. 'The spirit will tell you what is the name,' she said Sunday at a Pre-Kwanzaa Naming Ceremony workshop at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center."

"Tut whitening" and "truth" whitening

"With the coming opening of the King Tut museum exhibit, busts of the king's 'new face' are on sale in the malls and shops throughout the area. Besides making money, this mass marketing strategy surely aims to convince people that King Tut's 'new face' is his 'true face.'

(Above: Two highly divergent facial reconstructions. Below, a sculpture of Tutankhamun from ancient times.)

"Many African and African-American scholars resoundingly disagree. They see King Tut's new image as a renewed attempt to rewrite history by falsely depicting the king as a 'Caucasoid,' closely related to the 'true Caucasians' (i.e. 'whites'), who originated in Europe."

See the sidebar link: The Sickening Story of the Whitening of Tutankhamun.
And also visit another article by Dr. Niara Sudarkasa, and a further piece on the controversy surrounding the most recent "Tut whitening" or "'truth' whitening."

Continental forces aligning to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation

"Africa has launched a process that could be decisive for eradicating Female Genital Mutilation(FGM). A meeting of parliamentarians from all the regions of Africa is underway in Dakar on Violence against women, abandoning female genital mutilation: the role of national parliament."

Kwanzaa is about honouring one's family

"Kwanzaa doesn't focus on material elements. It isn't about buying. It's about using what you have available. It's not about spending money. It's about honoring your family," said Audrey Davis, assistant director/curator for the Alexandria Black History Museum. Davis was talking about of the week-long celebration known as Kwanzaa, which begins on Dec. 26....

"Dr. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 in the midst of the Black Freedom Movement as a way for African Americans to reaffirm their heritage and culture as well as their bonds to one another as a community."

"A local theatre company has been working diligently for the past couple of weeks as they continue to set up for their upcoming show that takes place in a new venue. Mixed Magic Theatre will present its 7th annual production of A Kwanzaa Song." For more information on Kwanzaa, visit here.

Another year of BS ahead--but it's the good kind

"The SciFi Channel announced that it has renewed the popular series Battlestar Galactica for a third season. Eager fans were left on the edge of their seats with a cliff-hanger September 23rd that pitted the Galactica and its crew against the previously presumed-lost Battlestar Pegasus and its higher ranking officer Admiral Cain, played by Michelle Forbes. The season is set to resume January 6th, 2006."

Meanwhile, the American Film Institute chose the impressive political/social/military SF series as one of the ten best American television programmes of 2005.

Chemical WMD: US massacres + hypocrisy in Iraq

"Vivid images show civilians, including women and children, who had been burned alive in their homes, even in their beds. This use of chemical weapons ­ at the order of the Bushist brass ­ and the killing of civilians are confirmed by former American soldiers interviewed on camera.

"'I heard the order to pay attention because they were going to use white phosphorous on Fallujah,' said one soldier, quoted in the Independent. 'In military jargon, it's known as Willy Pete. Phosphorous burns bodies; in fact it melts the flesh all the way down to the bone. I saw the burned bodies of women and children. Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150 meters is done for.'"

“'The US spends US$600 billion a year on death, coming up with weapons such as daisy-cutters, bunker-busters, cluster bombs and other tools of killing,' said peace crusader Helen Caldicott. "She added that the use of depleted uranium ammunition by US troops in Iraq is tantamount to using nuclear weapons. As a result, cases of cancer in children below five has increased by 700 per cent.'The women are afraid to conceive for fear that their offspring will be deformed.'”

Nigerian President Obasanjo--not a politician but a statesman

“One fact about President Olusegun Obasanjo, which his critics have not bothered to give him credit and which his admirers have not sufficiently celebrated him for, is that he does not act as a politician but as a statesman.
"A politician is a man who worries about the next election; a statesman, on the other hand, is more concerned about the well-being of the next generation. A politician may tend to ignore the projects, policies and programmes of his predecessors and instead elect to start his own so that he can have success stories credited to him in order for the people to hail him as a performer.

"A statesman, on the other hand, sees government as a continuum.

“Here is a roll of the many projects that were either on the drawing board or were initiated and abandoned which the president has taken on and completed.”

Nigerian deal to erase $30B in foreign debt

"Nigeria signed debt relief agreements with eight creditor nations on Saturday, moving closer to completion of a deal that will erase $30 billion of the oil exporting country's foreign debt."

Race and the digital divide

"Imagine going into low-income neighborhoods across the nation and creating one million new high-tech jobs for people who had never even seen computers before. The widely respected Hudson Institute called for just such an ambitious jobs creation initiative in its Workforce 2000 report, published in 1987. Nearly 20 years later, much of the nation is mired in a prolonged jobless recovery.

"Many of the new jobs that are being created are located in India, China and other lower cost, overseas locations. For far too many Americans, the dream of economic prosperity that comes with growing numbers of high-skilled, high-wage jobs has been postponed or abandoned. The African-American community has been particularly hard hit. New business opportunities for people like John Henry Thomspon, the Harlem native who created Lingo, the scripting language that powered the Internet in the 1980s, and Philip Emeagwali, a 1989 IEEE Gordon Bell Prize winner, seem few and far between."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Tonight on The Terrordome: RICHARD PRYOR - Comedy, Life and Death

Tonight on The Terrordome we’ll hear part one of a two part special on Richard Pryor, including clips from Pryor's stand up routines from over the years. A warning— some of tonight’s programme contains adult language and content. You might want to restrict your children from hearing tonight’s show. The show begins 6 pm Mountain time--click THE TERRORDOME link on the left (under "Minister Faust Audio").

Writing in a Tuesday obituary, George Curry, former editor of Emerge Magazine and currently the editor in chief of the US-based National Newspaper Publishers Association, eulogised comedian Richard Pryor, who passed away Saturday at age 65. Curry wrote in part:

“Richard Pryor, the groundbreaking comedian who died over the weekend of a heart attack, was known for his foul mouth, insight into racism, and honesty, a combination that caused many to be repelled by him and many more to be mesmerized by his brilliance.... Pryor... had been battling multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease that strikes the central nervous system, for two decades. Although America was not unfamiliar with Black comics... Dick Gregory, Redd Foxx and Bill Cosby – none of them could have prepared the nation for Richard Pryor.

"Pryor [in turn] prepared the world for a series of edgy comedians: Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams, David Letterman [and] David Chappelle.... [According to Keenen Ivory Wayans,] ‘Richard Pryor is the groundbreaker.... [He] showed us that you can be Black and have a Black voice and be successful.’

"Playwright Neil Simon called Pryor ‘the most brilliant comic in America.’ Comedian Bob Newhart said Pryor was ‘the single most seminal comedic influence in the last 50 years.’ And Eddie Murphy said that Richard Pryor was ‘better than anyone who ever picked up a microphone.’”

George Curry continues: "A high school drop-out, Pryor initially patterned his career after Bill Cosby.... Paul Mooney, one of Pryor’s closest friends and a fellow comedian, told the Los Angeles Times 10 years ago. “Black people sank into Pryor’s material like an easy chair…That’s what his talent was: talking about black people to black people.’ Pryor said cursing wasn’t the worst thing one could do. 'A lie is profanity.... A lie is the worst thing in the world. Art is the ability to tell the truth, especially about one’s self.'

"In his autobiography, Pryor Convictions and Other Life Sentences... [Pryor] recounts: 'There was a world of junkies and winos, pool hustlers and prostitutes, women and family screaming inside of my head, trying to be heard. The longer I kept them bottled up, the harder they tried to escape. The pressure built til I went nuts.' He won five Grammys for his comedy albums. He was an accomplished writer, providing scripts for Sanford and Son, The Flip Wilson Show and winning an Emmy for a Lily Tomlin television special. At one point, Pryor was the highest paid Black entertainer in Hollywood. He appeared in more than 40 movies, including Lady Sings the Blues, Jo Jo Dancer, Bustin’ Loose, Car Wash... Superman III, Blue Collar and The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings....

“After seeing the all-White cast of Logan’s Run, a science fiction movie, Pryor said: ‘…White folks ain’t planning for us to be here. That’s why we gotta make movies, and we be in the future. But we got to make some really hip movies. We done made enough movies about pimps because white people already know about pimpin’. ‘Cause we the biggest hos they got.’

"It was a trip to Zimbabwe in 1980 that caused Pryor to quit using the n-word. ‘There are no niggers here,’ he wrote in his autobiography. ‘The people here, they still have their self-respect, their pride.’ And so,” concludes George Curry, “does Richard Pryor.”

Study shows US war + occupation has killed 100,000 civilians

"Last year the prestigious British medical journal the Lancet published a study estimating that over 100,000 Iraqi civilians had died because of the war. The study determined that the risk of death by violence for civilians in Iraq is now 58 times higher than before the US-led invasion."

Listen to Les Roberts, epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg and co-author of a 2004 study on civilian mortality in Iraq since the invasion, here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Stanley Crouch on Richard Pryor: "A combination of confusion and comic genius made Pryor a much more negative influence than a positive one"

Stanley Crouch writes: "This past Saturday Richard Pryor left this life and bequeathed to our culture as much darkness as he did the light his extraordinary talent made possible.

"When we look at the remarkable descent this culture has made into smut, contempt, vulgarity and the pornographic, those of us who are not willing to drink the Kool-Aid marked 'all’s well,' will have to address the fact that it was the combination of confusion and comic genius that made Pryor a much more negative influence than a positive one."

Surgeon says 'slave mentality’ leads to low achievement in young black males

Tom Pelton writes: "Black doctors have a special responsibility to speak out against the 'culture of violence' and anti-intellectualism in America that encourages failure in young black men, a prominent physician told a conference of medical students yesterday....

“'You all are on the pathway to becoming dominant people, and you can change the culture.... The culture of violence is the current health emergency. And it’s not just that, it’s the culture of nonachievement that says studying is "acting white,”' said Cornwell, an African-American. 'That’s a slave mentality to be a nonachiever because it’s "acting white." It’s not polite to say that, but changing the culture isn’t going to be polite.'

"Cornwell, a professor of surgery who operates daily on gunshot victims in East Baltimore, was a featured speaker at a conference called The Missed Education: Examining the Shortage of Minority Men in Medicine.”

On the death of Tookie Williams

In light of the execution of Stan Tookie Williams, co-founder of the Crips, convict for quadruple homicide, peace activist, multiple Nobel Prize nominee, and a man claimed by some to be innocent of the crimes for which he was put to death, you might want to check out Save

Black eloquently expresses frustration over abundant sympathy for Tookie Williams with nonexistent commentary on the people he's accused of killing.

Br. Xyborg argues forcefully in favour of Williams' execution in light of the massive death toll caused by the Crips. You can view Br. Xyborg's video discussion of why those "in the Black community who glorify crime" during a life of murder should be executed.

I admire Br. Xyborg, but I disagree with him here. I oppose the death penalty even for Klan terrorists. The State cannot claim the moral high ground when it is a killer (and the State--and armed State which uses war as a weapon, is most certainly a murderer). I shared Br. Xyborg's outrage at those inside our communities who glorify street crime including prostitution, drug dealing, assault and murder--I share that outrage, including that it is aimed at the hypocritical Snoop Dog who championed Williams' life after creating countless songs glorifying fratricide(although surely the Euro-American record companies getting far richer from that image-mongering is an indication of the greater evil).

Of course, the history of the death penalty in the US is that its use is disproportionately against coloured people and the poor--especially when one is both. On that basis alone I call for its cessation. The death penalty is wrong whether it is in dictatorial regimes such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, or in supposedly free societies such as the United States.

Amy Goodman has an interview from a few days ago with Tookie Williams is here. Coverage from today's Democracy Now! including Jesse Jackson is here. Angela Davis speaks here.

And finally, The Boston Globe writes: "From rappers, only silence: Hip-hop world ignored ex-Crip founder's cause."

Putting the Christ back in Christmas

Br. Sean Gonsalves writes: "This holiday season we've been given the linguistic gift of 'put Christ back in Christmas' - the rallying cry for those Christians who see 'Happy Holiday' greetings as a secularist threat to their faith, a genuflecting before the altar of 'political correctness' (whatever that means), and an attack on the very underpinnings of a our 'Christian nation'....

"The irony here is that those Christians who most loudly lament the secularization of the public square often hold un-Christlike political-ethical views, whether it's defending the use of torture and the promotion of war or remaining silent in the face of usurious money lenders and the commercialization of Christmas, which ultimately leads to its trivialization."