Saturday, September 30, 2006

All praise is due to the Supreme

Since I was five years old--no kidding--I’ve been dreaming of being a father. And now, all praise is due to the Supreme, I have been blessed.

Two days ago, my wife and I held in our arms for the first time our beautiful baby daughter, Yemayá.

Our child was born under water (I don’t know about the three dollars and six dimes part, but yes, I’ve done my math), and so her name, Yemayá, is fitting indeed. In the Yoruba religion, Yemayá is the orisha (deity) of oceans. It’s said that some of those West Afrikans who survived the hell-ships of the European holocaust praised Yemayá for seeing them alive to the other side. The Yoruba Yemayá is also associated with motherhood and the protection of the family. We pray both will be true of our daughter.

We hope our daughter, born in the hour of Ancestor-I, will grow up to be a proud, strong, intelligent woman who “makes stand those who weep, who reveals those who hide their faces, and who lifts up those who sink down” (Per em Hru LXXX: 13-15).

We love her more than we thought was possible.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Mr. Chavez, sir, would you please mention one of my books the next time you speak at the UN?

Al Jazeera reports: "A three-year-old book by the radical author Noam Chomsky remains at the top of the Amazon.com's bestsellers list, after a plug by Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, during a UN speech last week.

"Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance, published in 2003, shot up from 26,000 to number one after Chavez urged Americans to read it. Chavez had held up Chomsky's book and said Americans should read it 'instead of watching Superman movies', to learn the truth about the abuses of the US government.

"The popular online company said the 2003 book remained its biggest seller on Sunday.Chavez had recommended it as 'an excellent book to help us understand what has been happening in the world throughout the 20th century ... and the greatest threat looming over our planet'.

"Chavez's railed against the US in his speech saying 'the hegemonic pretensions of the American empire are placing at risk the very survival of the human species'."

(This one, okay, sir?)

At UN, a smiling, joking, "crossing" Chavez calls Bush a devil...

...and in the US, some folks have freaked out. But for crying out loud, Bush calls people "evil," I mean, capital-E "Evil" on a regular basis. Don't dish it out if you can't (etc.), Bush-baby. Anyway, other folks in the US have calmly reported the event. Check out Democracy Now!'s appraisal, including a long video/audio clip of Chavez's speech, which begins very well, with obvious humour and irony, much to the delight of many in the General Assembly. I guess it all comes down to this: If you have to have it explained to you, you'll never understand. I suppose that all us meat-eaters would probably resent how talking cows would talk about us, too.

Here's a partial transcript courtesy of DN!:

"...the American empire is doing all it can to consolidate its hegemonic system of domination, and we cannot allow them to do that. We cannot allow world dictatorship to be consolidated. The world tyrant’s statement -- cynical, hypocritical, full of this imperial hypocrisy, from the need they have to control everything -- they say they want to impose a democratic model, but that's their democratic model. It's the false democracy of elites, and I would say a very original democracy that's imposed by weapons and bombs and firing weapons. What a strange democracy. Aristotle might not recognize it, or others who are at the root of democracy. What type of democracy do you impose with marines and bombs?

"The President of the United States yesterday said to us right here in this room, and I’m quoting, 'Anywhere you look, you hear extremists telling you you can escape from poverty and recover your dignity through violence, terror, and martyrdom.' Wherever he looks, he sees extremists. And you, my brother, he looks at your color, and he says, ‘Oh, there’s an extremist.’

"Evo Morales, the worthy president of Bolivia, looks like an extremist to him. The imperialists see extremists everywhere. It's not that we are extremists. It's that the world is waking up. It's waking up all over, and people are standing up. I have the feeling, dear world dictator, that you are going to live the rest of your days as a nightmare, because the rest of us are standing up, all those of us who are rising up against American imperialism, who are shouting for equality, for respect, for the sovereignty of nations. Yes, you can call us extremists, but we are rising up against the empire, against the model of domination.

"The President then -- and this he said himself -- he said, 'I have come to speak directly to the populations in the Middle East to tell them that my country wants peace.' That's true. If we walk in the streets of the Bronx, if we walk around New York, Washington, San Diego, in any city, San Antonio, San Francisco, and we ask individuals, the citizens of the United States, 'What does this country want? Does it want peace?' They will say, 'Yes.' But the government doesn’t want peace. The government of the United States doesn't want peace. It wants to exploit its system of exploitation, of pillage, of hegemony through war. It wants peace, but what’s happening in Iraq? What happened in Lebanon? Palestine? What's happening? What's happened over the last hundred years in Latin America and in the world? And now threatening Venezuela. New threats against Venezuela, against Iran.

"He spoke to the people of Lebanon: 'Many of you,' he said, 'have seen how your homes and communities were caught in the crossfire.' How cynical can you get? What a capacity to lie shamefacedly. The bombs in Beirut? With millimetric precision? This is crossfire? He's thinking of a western, when people would shoot from the hip and somebody would be caught in the crossfire. This is a imperialist fire, fascist, assassin, genocidal. The empire and Israel firing on the people of Palestine and Lebanon, that is what happened. And now we hear we're suffering, because we see the homes destroyed."

Does one European victim deserves more compassion than millions of Afrikan victims?

BBC News reports: "Pope Benedict XVI has paid tribute to an Italian nun killed in Somalia who is reported to have forgiven her attackers as she lay dying.

"Sister Leonella Sgorbati was attacked, along with her bodyguard, outside the hospital in Mogadishu where she worked. Some suspect the shooting was connected to recent remarks by the Pope which caused anger across the Islamic world."

So the pope makes some ugly remarks. That's bad (Correction as of Oct. 2: Garvey's Ghost demonstrates clearly that Pope Benedict, in fact, did not make the remarks attributed to him. Thanks, Br. Sondjata, and sorry to the Pope (no, I'm not being sarcastic). And someone else in Somalia kills someone else for those remarks? That's freaking monstrous.

Who on earth can support this? Obviously not 99.9% of Muslims, any more than, say, 99.9% of Christians directly supported the Ku Klux Klan or the Nazis. But--and let me put it frankly--this barbaric shit has got to stop. This woman was helping heal people in a country that's been suffering for far too long.

No, I don't subscribe to the notion that one European victim deserves more compassion than millions of Afrikan victims.

I subscribe to the idea that killing any innocent person will always be wrong, forever and ever, eh, man?

Here's what Br. Sondjata over at Garvey's Ghost has to say in general regarding this problem.

Here's a BBC analysis:

"[T]he row has highlighted their concerns about the Pope's attitude towards the Church's relations with the Islamic world.... When Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope in 2005, it was assumed that he would follow closely the policies of his predecessor, John Paul II....

"But on one key issue, Vatican-watchers detected a divergence in the views of the two men: the Vatican's attitude towards Islam. John Paul II wanted to reach out to other religions and in 2001, on a visit to Syria, he became the first pope to set foot in a mosque. It was a gesture intended to help end centuries of hostility and suspicion between the two religions. Benedict XVI undoubtedly wants to achieve better relations with Islam, but there is an important proviso.

"It can be summed up in a single word: reciprocity. It means that if Muslims want to enjoy religious freedom in the West, then Christians should have an equal right to follow their faith in Islamic states, without fear of persecution.

Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald
"One of the first signs of a toughening of the Vatican's stance came with the removal from office of Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald. The British-born cleric ran a Vatican department that promoted dialogue with other religions. A distinguished scholar on Arab affairs, he was an acknowledged expert on the Islamic world.


"The decision by Benedict XVI to remove him from his post, and send him to Egypt as papal nuncio, was widely seen as a demotion. Some wondered about the wisdom of the move."


US Authorities detain, strip search and threaten to beat Venezuela's foreign minister

BBC News reports: "Venezuela has made a formal complaint to the US authorities and the United Nations after its foreign minister was detained at a New York airport.

"The US state department has apologised to Nicolas Maduro who was detained for 90 minutes at New York's JFK airport as he travelled home. He had been attending this week's UN General Assembly meeting. He said he was verbally abused and strip-searched in what he said was a 'flagrant breach of international law'.

"President Hugo Chavez described Mr Maduro's detention as a provocation.... 'We were detained during an hour and a half, threatened by police with being beaten,' he told reporters at Venezuela's mission to the UN. 'We hold the US government responsible.'

"US authorities initially denied Mr Maduro had been detained and his documents seized, saying he had simply been asked to go through a second security screening. The US state department later confirmed the incident had taken place and apologised."

Friday, September 22, 2006

Two gigs on Friday night for Minister Faust

Friday night, I'm speaking at the Unveiling Africa conference at 6:30, and then I'm getting on a chartered jet, followed by a hovercraft, jet ski and dog-kayak to make it over to perform at the Roar spoken word festival.

Later on that night I'll finish reading manuscripts (start reading manuscripts) for the Three Day Novel contest.
Kot-tam.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Nigerian intelligence at 3.1B calculations per second

Nigeria’s computational pioneer Chukwurah Philip Emeagwali downloads himself to E-Town

By Minister Faust, for Vue Weekly, 2006 September 21


The Unveiling Africa Conference
University of Alberta
September 21-23


WHEN: Saturday, September 23, 7 pm
Keynote Speaker Philip Emeagwali
WHERE: Dinwoodie Lounge, 2nd floor Students Union Building, U of A
HOW MUCH: $20 ($15 for students)
Unveiling Africa Website

“Africa.” In Western culture, the word fornicates with the word “ignorance” in two ways: first, as the (sometimes) unspoken belief that Africa is the world’s intellectual and cultural “heart of darkness,” and second, as the reality of Western ignorance about the world’s second largest continent.

It’s so common in North America for folks to conceive of Africa as a single country that it’s actually rare, in conversation, to hear someone acknowledge that Africa contains 54 countries. It’s far more common to hear phrases such as “I visited London, Paris, and Africa,” which reduce the world’s second largest continent to the status of a single city.

Other minimising notions suggest that the continent’s hundreds of ethnicities all look alike, instead of encompassing the world’s widest continental range of physical distinction, or that people there speak “African” or African “dialects,” rather than thousands of languages, or that the continent has no history at all, rather than being the birthplace of the human race and dozens of ancient civilisations and quite possibly the birthplace of writing and even civilisation itself.

This weekend, the Unveiling Africa conference will seek to change any such local notions about the “dark continent.” The conference run by the U of A’s newly-formed African Students Union (AFSU) runs from September 21 until the 23rd, showcasing a range of intellectual and cultural events focused on Africa’s history and destiny to promote political and economic progress, including through artistic performances and exhibitions, a food festival and presentations by local academics such as Dr. Philomena Okeke.

But its star of stars will be keynote speaker and internationally acclaimed Nigerian computer researcher Chukwurah Philip Emeagwali. Born in 1954 in what later became Nigeria, Emeagwali found himself engulfed in Nigeria’s Biafran civil war. After living with his family in a refugee camp for two years, at age 14 Emeagwali was conscripted as a child soldier.

After the war claimed a million lives in the continent’s most populous country, Emeagwali was finally discharged. Speaking via telephone from his home in Washington, D.C., he told Vue Weekly that life in Nigeria specifically and Africa generally forced him to become stronger. “You become more psychologically resilient,” he said. “And that resilience is what helps you when you come over to the western world and you face obstacles. It helps you rebound.... Biafra was a difficult place to grow up in--a civil crisis in which one million people died in a thirty-month period [but] those who experience hardships early in life, when they get opportunities, they have a new set of energies, not just unique to those of us from Biafra, but to all immigrants in general, because immigrants come to North America with a new energy and aggressiveness and take advantage of opportunities that society offers.”

At age 19, Emeagwali achieved a mathematics scholarship to study in the U.S. By 1987, after working at the U.S. National Weather Service, Emeagwali performed the feat that has since won him fame and honours: he programmed 65,536 processors to perform 3.1 billion calculations in a second--which won him the prestigious Gordon Bell Prize in 1989. Speaking in Nigeria’s parliament in 2000, US President Bill Clinton hailed Emeagwali as “Africa’s Bill Gates.”

While Clinton’s praise employed the same old Orientalist generalising about Africa (rather than Nigeria), and incorrectly claimed the successful innovator as a super-entrepreneur, the point was clear: by using the Cray Connection Machine supercomputer to analyse petroleum fields, Mr. Emeagwali, without even possessing a PhD., had become a name in computing. Or, more accurately, in super-computing. His home country has even issued a stamp with his likeness.

Such accomplishments in computing by people of African descent shouldn’t be seen as rare, though. Take Dr. Mark Dean, an IBM vice-president who owns three of the original nine patents upon which all PCs are based, or Kwabena Boahen, the Ghanaian-American professor of bioengineering at Stanford who’s attempting to make computers function like the human brain. Yet the stereotypes remain that scientific research and innovation is somehow alien to Africans, despite the ancient foundation of so many sciences in Egypt.

Dislodging such stereotypes is one of the Nigerian researcher’s goals. In his role as motivational speaker, Emeagwali seeks to encourage scientific achievement among students of African descent, as well as political, economic and social achievement. In his keynote address on Friday, he’ll discuss globalisation as a form of re-colonisation, AIDS as a weapon of mass destruction, and the need for the solutions to Africa’s many crises to come from Africans themselves.

But Emeagwali is interested in more massive computations. He’s also something of a cyber-mystic, prognosticating upon the destiny of what he predicts will be a fusion between humanity and the evolving internet. Perhaps it’s not surprising he should possess that fascination, since his first name, “Chukwurah” means “Seeking God's protection and longevity.”

Emeagwali envisages a time in which a super-internet will give birth to practical immortality. In a speech entitled “My Search for the Holy Grail of Immortality” at in 2003 at the Georgia conference of the Black Data Processing Association, Emeagwali said, “My prediction is that, in 100 years, the Internet will evolve and become more tightly coupled.... [T] he computer, as we know it today, will become obsolete. Instead, we will be computing without computers. The computer will, in effect, disappear into this future generation Internet, which I called ‘InternetX’ or SuperBrain....

"If we can replace [with cybernetic implants] one percent of the human brain in 100 years, then we might be able to replace the entire brain in 10,000 years. If we can replace the entire brain, we can download it into the SuperBrain. And if we can download it into the SuperBrain, our descendants will merely exist as pure thoughts, electronic cockroaches or human algorithms. Our descendants will have achieved digital immortality in 10,000 years.”

Friday, September 15, 2006

Genocide on Clinton's watch, genocide on Bush's watch



From an Africa Action report carried on The Black Commentator:

"During President Bill Clinton’s trip to Africa in 1998, he stopped in Kigali, Rwanda, to deliver an apology for not having done 'as much as we could' to stop the genocide in 1994. He announced to an audience at the Kigali airport, '[A]ll over the world there were people like me sitting in offices, day after day after day, who did not fully appreciate the depth and the speed with which you were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror.'[3]

"In fact, there exists a great deal of evidence to suggest that detailed information on the scope of the genocide was indeed available to the U.S. – both before and during the massacres in Rwanda. Reports suggesting a high likelihood of massive ethnic violence had been available even during the early 1990s. In January 1994, U.S. intelligence analysts had predicted that in case of renewed conflict in Rwanda, 'the worst-case scenario would involve one half million people dying.'[4]

"In the final analysis, even these dire forecasts proved to be conservative.

"On April 6, 1994, the same day that Rwandan President Habyarimana’s plane was shot down and the crisis began to unfold, Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Prudence Bushnell drafted an urgent memo to Secretary of State Warren Christopher. In it, she warned that the assassination could prompt an outbreak of killings, and she urged the U.S. to appeal for calm.[5]

"Within days, Joyce Leader, Deputy Chief of Mission stationed in Rwanda, realized that a pattern of clear and systematic killing of Tutsi had emerged.[6] Lists of the names of Tutsi and some Hutu targets had been compiled and distributed, and blocks were being set up along the roads to check people’s identification papers and separate those who would be eliminated.

"Recognizing the extreme danger on the ground, the U.S. made the decision to evacuate all American citizens from Rwanda. By April 10, 1994, the U.S Ambassador to Rwanda David Rawson and 250 American citizens had been evacuated from the country.[7] Memos prepared for U.S. officials in subsequent days warned of a massive and impending 'bloodbath'.[8] Though fully briefed on the unfolding crisis, the Clinton Administration took no action to halt the growing violence, and instead began to lobby for the withdrawal of the UN force in Rwanda.[9]"

Samantha Power writes: "So far people have explained the U.S. failure to respond to the Rwandan genocide by claiming that the United States didn't know what was happening, that it knew but didn't care, or that regardless of what it knew there was nothing useful to be done.

"The account that follows is based on a three-year investigation involving sixty interviews with senior, mid-level, and junior State Department, Defense Department, and National Security Council officials who helped to shape or inform U.S. policy. It also reflects dozens of interviews with Rwandan, European, and United Nations officials and with peacekeepers, journalists, and nongovernmental workers in Rwanda.

"Thanks to the National Security Archive (www.nsarchive.org), a nonprofit organization that uses the Freedom of Information Act to secure the release of classified U.S. documents, this account also draws on hundreds of pages of newly available government records.

"This material provides a clearer picture than was previously possible of the interplay among people, motives, and events. It reveals that the U.S. government knew enough about the genocide early on to save lives, but passed up countless opportunities to intervene."

UNICEF, Nigeria sign 5.4 million dollars pact on girl education


"The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno have signed a 700 million naira (about 5.4 million U.S. dollars) project implementation agreement to address the problem of girl education in the next five years....

"Mohammed Jalloh, assistant country representative of UNICEF Field Office in the state capital Bauchi, said the signing of the pact was the 'right step toward achieving the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education.'"

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Freedom of speech includes freedom of music, or, Get your G.D. hands off my radio!

The InterWorld Radio News Bulletin of Sept. 12 reports:

"Islamists who closed down a Somali radio station for playing love songs and other music have allowed it back on air. Radio Jowhar was ordered to close on Sunday because its programmes were considered un-Islamic. Radio Jowhar can now broadcast only news bulletins, readings from the Quran and Islamic lectures. The Islamists have imposed strict religious rule in Somalia since taking control of much of southern Somalia."

Background on the original shut-down of Radio Jowhar by the fundamentalists:

"Jowhar resident Ali Musse said closing the radio station was a violation of freedom. 'This directive is like the Taliban,' Musse told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. 'It is censorship against independent media and freedom of expression.'"

"The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly condemns the closure on Sunday, June18, 2006 of the local sub-division of the Mogadishu based radio station, Radio Shabelle. Two journalists Mohamed Addawe and Ali Jey were briefly detained during the raid by gunmen who carried orders given by the Minister of Farming and the acting Minister of Interior, Colonel Hassan Mohammed Nur."


"Reporters Without Borders has condemned punitive measures taken by Somalia's Islamic courts against the press in the past few days, including the closure of the privately-owned Radio Jowhar and the arbitrary detention for 48 hours of Osman Adan Areys, a journalist based in the central city of Beledweyn.

"'It is painful to see that, for the Somali population, anarchy is gradually being replaced by oppression,' the press freedom organisation said. 'It is not too late for the Islamic tribunals to realise that maintaining order is not a matter of imposing prohibitions and a reign of fear.'

"Reporters Without Borders added: 'Radio Jowhar's attempts to maintain an independent editorial line in the terrible climate prevailing in Somalia deserves to be rewarded with respect, not with arbitrary closure. Similarly, journalists should not have to live in fear of being arrested by militiamen just because the facts they have reported have upset someone in authority.'

"Founded by intellectuals from different clans, Radio Jowhar is Jowhar's only privately-owned radio station. It has tried to remain editorially independent at a time when many other stations are taking sides with the different political forces fighting for power."

Sociopaths of Right Wing Big Money Media

Greg Palast writes:

"Anne Coulter says we’re 'Godless' — we 'liberals.' And by 'liberals,' she means anyone who wants to keep the government out of our underpants, out of Iraq, and out of the business of helping Big Business shoplift America.
"It’s time someone took on the blonde bully.

"Anne, I realize yesterday was special day for you, releasing your book on June 6 — 06-06-06.


"Going through it, I must, admit, is heavy going:
Godless is a 300-page brick of solid meanness and pin-head hatreds packaged like a fashion magazine: Big Brother wears Prada.

"You accuse those who don’t sign on to your list of prejudices as the Lord’s enemies. That’s not original, Anne: the Taliban thought of it before you and they too were partial to dressing in black.


"You want to talk about Godless? OK, let’s go:

"Would the Lord lie us into a war?

"Would the Lord let thousands drown in New Orleans while chilling at a golf resort?


"Would the Lord have removed tens of thousands of Black soldiers from the voter rolls as the Republican Party did in 2004?

"You talk about being 'Christian' — but with all your zeal to fire up electric chairs and Abrams tanks, you sound more like a Roman.


"I suggest this, Anne: let’s debate. Set the time, set the place, and I’ll be there. Nose to nose, my facts versus your fanaticism.

"But I know you don’t have the guts to do anything but lob idiocies from your electronic Fox-hole.


"Your new book is called Godless. Your autobiography should be called 'Gutless'.”



Greg Palast, winner of the George Orwell Courage-In-Journalism Prize, is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Yesterday, he released his book, Armed Madhouse: Who’s Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal ‘08, No Child’s Behind Left and other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War. Order it now from GregPalast.com or your local book shop.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Computer geniuses of the Afrikan planet

(Thanks to Br. John Y. for this.)

Tyrone Taborn writes: “You may not have heard of Dr. Mark Dean. And you aren’t alone. But almost everything in your life has been affected by his work.

“See, Dr. Mark Dean is a Ph.D. from Stanford University. He is in the National Hall of Inventors. He has more than 30 patents pending. He is a vice president with IBM. Oh, yeah. And he is also the architect of the modern-day personal computer. Dr. Dean holds three of the original nine patents on the computer that all PCs are based upon. And, Dr. Mark Dean is an African American.

“So how is it that we can celebrate the 20th anniversary of the IBM personal computer without reading or hearing a single word about him? Given all of the pressure mass media are under about negative portrayals of African Americans on television and in print, you would think it would be a slam dunk to highlight someone like Dr. Dean.

“Somehow, though, we have managed to miss the shot. History is cruel when it comes to telling the stories of African Americans. Dr. Dean isn’t the first Black inventor to be overlooked. Consider John Stanard, inventor of the refrigerator, George Sampson, creator of the clothes dryer, Alexander Miles and his elevator, Lewis Latimer and the electric lamp.

"All of these inventors share two things: One, they changed the landscape of our society; and, two, society relegated them to the footnotes of history.

"Hopefully, Dr. Mark Dean won’t go away as quietly as they did. He certainly shouldn’t. Dr. Dean helped start a Digital Revolution that created people like Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Dell Computer’s Michael Dell. Millions of jobs in information technology can be traced back directly to Dr. Dean.

“More important, stories like Dr. Mark Dean’s should serve as inspiration for African-American children. Already victims of the 'Digital Divide' and failing school systems, young, Black kids might embrace technology with more enthusiasm if they knew someone like Dr. Dean already was leading the way.

“Although technically Dr. Dean can’t be credited with creating the computer -- that is left to Alan Turing, a pioneering 20th-century English mathematician, widely considered to be the father of modern computer science -- Dr. Dean rightly deserves to take a bow for the machine we use today. The computer really wasn’t practical for home or small business use until he came along, leading a team that developed the interior architecture (ISA systems bus) that enables multiple devices, such as modems and printers, to be connected to personal computers.

“In other words, because of Dr. Dean, the PC became a part of our daily lives. For most of us, changing the face of society would have been enough. But not for Dr. Dean. Still in his early forties, he has a lot of inventing left in him.

"He recently made history again by leading the design team responsible for creating the first 1-gigahertz processor chip. It's just another huge step in making computers faster and smaller. As the world congratulates itself for the new Digital Age brought on by the personal computer, we need to guarantee that the African-American story is part of the hoopla surrounding the most stunning technological advance the world has ever seen. We cannot afford to let Dr. Mark Dean become a footnote in history. He is well worth his own history book."

See this further write-up on Br. Dr. Dean.

See also: "[Dr.] Kwabena Boahen, an associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering, leads a research group that is trying to mimic the functions of the brain’s complex neural system using silicon chips.

And see what the Philadelphia Inquirer writes about Nigeria's Philip Emeagwali:

"Emeagwali... is listed in Who's Who in the World and Who's Who in America. He has won numerous awards, including the Gordon Bell Prize. He devised ways of making oil fields more productive, saving the United States hundreds of millions of dollars a year. His inventions include [a computational formula] which in 1989 computed 3.1 billion calculations in one second."

By the way--Emeagwali is coming to E-Town in about ten days....


The difference between insanity and evil, between hypocrisy and justice

A response to the Sept.11, 2001
Terror Attacks in NYC and DC
By Minister Faust


Originally broadcast on
The Terrordome Afrika All-World News Service,
2001 September 19

INTRO

The following is, without question, the most difficult piece of writing I have ever created for The Afrika All-World News Service. It is difficult because the circumstances that motivate are so deeply upsetting, for reasons that will become clear. And it is difficult because I am aware of the repercussions that I may face for giving voice to what many people feel or believe, but think that they cannot say.

Still, the Honourable Malcolm X teaches us that “If you’re afraid to tell the truth, you don’t even deserve freedom.” This programme has aired on CJSR FM-88 since 1991, and it has been dedicated since its inception to discussing the truth about the Afrikan world, about anti-imperialism and the pro-democracy movement that is covered up or misrepresented elsewhere. That will not change tonight.

This editorial concerns the event and context of the terrorist attacks on the United States on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the incorrect diagnosis of the cause and incorrect prescription for cure, the actual cause, what we must avoid in response, and what we must do in response.

SORROW FOR VICTIMS

Some people who are angry about international crimes, even crimes against humanity, committed by the United States, are making the ghastly and immoral error of gloating about the appalling attacks of Tuesday. Some people--not many, but some--have felt and expressed glee at what they see as pay-back for American arrogance, bullying, terrorism and mass-murder.

As human beings, as people of faith, we must reject such thoughts and behaviour completely. This is no time for gloating or glee. While it is indisputable that the US Government is responsible for innumerable crimes, the people who were killed were not.

Many people have said, “You reap what you sow.” But in regards to the attacks on New York in particular, such a remark is callous and grossly incorrect. It is not ordinary American workers and mums and dads who send the stealth bombers and the depleted uranium shells to the Gulf, it is not hard-working janitors and cleaning ladies who detonate nuclear bombs on the South Pacific islands or over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is not taxi drivers and tourists who sent fleets of slaving ships for the European Holocaust against Afrika, it is not typists and photocopier repairmen who carved up the motherland of humanity and ripped out its resources, enslaving its peoples to permanent, crushing debt, it is not lunch counter waitresses and short-order cooks who stole entire countries and granted them out as foreign policy police stations to willing colonialists... it is not ordinary American workers who launched coup after coup or trained the coup leaders, who orchestrated the assassinations of numerous democratic anti-imperialists, who created, financed and directed terrorist armies and put half a world into thrall.

The ordinary folks--parents and kids--who died on Tuesday and who will be found dead in the days to come, did nothing to deserve such a premature and horrifying end to their lives. We must mourn them, for they are us. They are the vast bulk of humanity... innocent people who work and pay bills and treat folks decently, who are just trying to do the right thing on a day to day basis.

What happened on Tuesday was not insanity, although many short-sighted and shallow analysts will call it that. What happened on Tuesday was very sane--cold, calculated mass murder. Call it “insanity” and you excuse us of our responsibility to explain its real causes. Sink into this type of moronic recitation and we stop having to use our minds to understand why innocent people are killed. If we avoid such foolishness, and instead gaze into the machinery of death, we have the hope of stopping it.

Evil was committed on Tuesday.

Hijacking airplanes filled with innocent people and ramming them into buildings filled with more innocent people so that the collapsed buildings will crush and kill still more innocent people on the ground--this is unforgivable evil.

Walking into airports and slaughtering civilians with machine gun fire... this is unforgivable evil.

Invading a country to steal its oil, while using poison gas against the ethnic and religious minorities among your own citizenry... this is unforgivable evil.

Stealing someone’s country and its water and land and resources while claiming that your right to do so comes from God, or the Bible, or history, or science, or evolution... this is unforgivable evil.

Committing or assisting genocide against Arawak, Taino, Beothuks, Namibians, Congolese, Armenians, indigenous Amazonians, Chinese, Jews, Cambodians, Tibetans, East Timorese, Tutsis... this is unforgivable evil.

Forced relocation and enslavement of fifty million people, mass-liquidation of original nations and destruction of civilisations on both sides of the Atlantic... this is unforgivable evil.

Dropping thousands of bombs and firing thousands of shells made of radioactive waste that becomes a lethal aerosol on impact, or defoliating the land with deadly herbicides, or dropping atomic weapons, all of which kill and maim and deform and kill again for generation and generation to come... this is unforgivable evil.

Conquering the world, and then enslaving it with debt to you as a perverse, reverse invoice for everything you’ve stolen and all the people you’ve murdered and all the cultures you’ve destroyed, while that very same debt strangles them and their children to slow deaths... this is unforgivable evil.

INCORRECT DIAGNOSIS of the CAUSE and INCORRECT PRESCRIPTION FOR CURE

We have already heard, and we will continue to hear in the weeks to come, numerous incorrect analyses of and prescriptions against the horror of September 11.

The incorrect analyses will include:

“The people who did this just aren’t like us... people where they come from, in their religion, just don’t have the same regard for human life that we do.”
“The people who do this are simply insane. They jealously hate us for our hard work and success. Our countries have never done anything to cause any sane person to want to strike at us.”
“These things happen because we’re too slack with our borders and our immigration.”


It will also be wrong when some people say that “humanity” is responsible as a whole, that there is some evil in the collective human heart. What about the Americans of all races and creeds who have lined up to donate part of their own bodies--their blood--in order to save lives? What about the Americans who defy the genocidal sanctions of their own government against the Iraqi people in order to restore human decency to international relations?

The incorrect prescriptions for cure will include:

“We should stop all immigration.”
“We should kick out the people already here who don’t share ‘our’ culture and ‘our’ values.”
“We should forget about funding education, health care, multiculturalism or multilingualism--what we need is more guns, more armies, and a space-based missile defense system.”
And “Because the people who did this just don’t place the same value on human life that we do, we should just kill all of ’em. Nuclear-style.”


It is understandable, in a way, that so many people cry out for vengeance. After all, how can one not be angry when one has been hurt? The suddenness and scale of these atrocities shock us and appal us. We are filled with horror at these vicious murders, committed by unrepentant technicians of death. How can anyone NOT by moved by such calculated, cynical acts of mass murder?

The answer is simple.

People in the West are unmoved by such unforgivable outrages and evils every day, so long as they are committed by Western military forces in the interests of Western political and corporate power, and are distorted or covered up by Western corporate or national press.

At work two days ago I saw many people deeply moved, some to tears, by the evils done against innocent Americans. These reactions are human and decent. But I have never seen tears from any of these people over the course of my entire career with them for the hundreds of thousands and even millions dead from the Congo War, from the sanctions against Iraq, from civil war in Sierra Leone, from the occupation of Tibet, from the war in Chechnya or in the former Yugoslavia.

Why are only some people deserving of our tears?


Is is skin colour? Arabs and Congolese don’t matter, but Bosnians do, right? Is it religion? Chechyns don’t matter, but Northern Irish do? But what about White Serbians? Weren’t they bombed by NATO? What about Muslim Kuwaitis and Muslim Bosnians? Weren’t others bombed supposedly to save them?

When any group of people is dehumanised and made out to be worthless or lacking in human dignity, we prepare that group for exploitation, violence and death.

US President George W. Bush has said that “No distinction will be made between the perpetrators and those who harbour them” in reference to who will be punished, and how much. But what about all the unreconstructed Nazis of the Third Reich, not only scientists but political operatives, smuggled via the American Rat Line into the US and Canada and across Latin America, given jobs and comfort and wealth? Does not President Bush’s remark give Israel the right to bomb Argentina... or Washington itself?

It is wrong to delight in the murder of innocent people, and it is wrong to preach hypocritically about who has respect for human life and who doesn’t, when you call for swift, violent, indiscriminate attacks against anybody who even looks like an enemy.

CAUSE: US CRIMES, US TRAINING

The cause.

It is well-known that the US trained-- if not Osama bin Laden personally, at least forces around Osama bin Laden--in their Afghan war against the Soviets, just as the US also trained former allies including Saddam Hussein of Iraq, the Shah of Iran, Manuel Noriega of Panama, Somosa of Nicaragua, Batista of Cuba, Mobutu Seso Seko of Congo, Botha of the Dutch Reich in South Africa, the Duvaliers of Haiti, Marcos of the Philippines, the terrorist armies of UNITA in Angola and the Contras in Nicaragua, death-squad governments in El Salvador, Chile, Guatemala, Indonesia, East Timor... and on the list goes.

The United States creates monsters who, after completing their work of butchering poor people (and usually poor people with brown skin), predictably turn on their masters.

But the calls for retribution are clearly short-sighted and ignorant of even recent history. Take Sudan.

After two US embassies were bombed in Tanzania and Kenya, the US bombed Afghanistan and Sudan. In the case of Sudan, they claimed that they attacked a chemical weapons plant. What many knew at the time, but what was proven later by international inspectors, was that the plant actually was a pharmaceutical facility, making half of all medicine consumed by this very poor North Afrikan country. That the chemical weapons claim was bogus is proven by the lack of American opposition to a lawsuit filed against it for their unjustified, brutal and criminal attack. How many Sudanese will suffer and die, denied medicine by US terrorist bombs, dropped at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal... as if that were just a coincidence?

How about Iraq? The US and Britain bomb Iraq almost everyday and have done so at least since 1998. The US-Britain led sanctions against Iraq have claimed 1.5 MILLION lives since their imposition. 41 per cent of them, or about 623,000, are children under the age of five. “When [Madeline Albright, then US Secretary of State was] asked on US television if she thought that the death of half a million Iraqi children [from sanctions in Iraq] was a price worth paying, Albright replied: ‘This is a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it.’” (John Pilger, "
Squeezed to Death", Guardian, March 4, 2000 - [Note from 2006: After a vast outcry from people around the world, Albright has since repudiated this statement]). Can you find a greater articulation of fanaticism? Can you find a better articulation of people who do not share our value of human life? Who will pay for this? Where are the calls for retribution for this?

The recent World Conference Against Racism saw the United States in particular and European countries and settler colonies like Canada pull every trick in the book, with their corporate media and CBC allies collaborating every step of the way, refuse to take responsibility for their crimes against humanity--the European Holocaust in Afrika of enslavement, deportation and colonisation, and their genocides in and conquest of the rest of the world. So it is no surprise that when innocent Americans are murdered by evil men trained by the US itself, that the US government refuses to acknowledge its own culpability.

Instead, blame someone else. Make an enemy. Dehumanise someone and everyone who looks like them at home and abroad. And then murder them.

It is time that we had an authentic definition of terrorism. One that included the greatest masters of them all. The alliance of wealth, government, and armed forces.

WHAT MUST WE DO?

What must we do in the pro-democracy movement? We must relentlessly educate our fellow citizens in our churches, our clubs, our schools, our shops, or unions, our lodges, our families, about the real reasons that innocent people are killed either in our countries, or by our countries.

We must organise so as to force our governments to seek a diplomatic solution to this crisis, such as having bin Laden and his henchmen extradited to an Islamic country to be tried by an international panel of judges representative of Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, including judges from Muslim countries.

We must organise so as to force our governments to halt the proposed military “crusade,” which, if history is any guide, will slaughter, poison and starve hundreds of thousands, if not millions--particularly of the very people who are the primary victims of the Taliban.

We must organise so as to force our governments, especially the US government, to cease creating and funding terrorist armies and dictatorships around the world, especially through its military academy, the School of the Americas, dubbed “the School of Coups,” cease overthrowing foreign governments (especially democratically elected administrations), and cease commissioning the assassination of foreign leaders.

We must organise so as to force our governments, especially the USG, to end the illegal sanctions against Iraq which, to date, have killed 1.5 million Iraqi citizens, including 623,000 children under five.

We must organise to support the large-scale anti-sanctions movement, so that innocent people living under dictatorships formerly sponsored by the West, or in countries with governments which opposed absolute Western dominance, are allowed medicine and food and technical assistance to support human life and expand an international community of decency and justice.

We must organise so as to force our governments, especially the USG, to conduct international economic, political and social relations to foster prosperity and stability among poor nations impoverished further via Western exploitation (especially through the economic Structural Adjustment Policies of the IMF and the World Bank), rather than the international system of exploitation and destabilisation that creates widespread resentment and rage against Western wealth, indifference, violence and greed, which is a major cause of terrorism against innocent Western citizens.

We must organise our minor and major unions to create a democratic alternative to the corporate press--a national or international union weekly, and eventually daily newspaper and cable television station, that can accurately report on the real functions of wealth and power in this world--their own enrichment, at the expense of everyone else.

We must inform the citizens of our countries of independent and on-line news media that provide genuinely balanced coverage of national and international affairs, so that citizens may vote, organise and buy with regard to justice.

We must inform the public with accurate lists of which companies earn money from the manufacture and sale of conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction, so that citizens may boycott these companies which grow fat from mutilation, destruction and death.

We must inform the public with accurate lists of which companies conduct their manufacture and shipping of goods within socially and economically just conditions, and which do not, so that citizens may economically reward just companies that promote stability and economically punish those which promote misery and instability.

We must give blood, or funds for medicine or machinery, or our labour, to help our American brothers and sisters murdered in this outrageous acts of evil... and also in other countries such as Iraq.

We must pray and organise for peace, we must love and take care of our neighbours... we must oppose evil no matter the colour or the nationality or religion of the perpetrator... and we must help our fellow human beings... no matter the colour or nationality or religion.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Now that Israel's war on Lebanon is over, can we please bother to pay attention to a situation that is 15,000 times worse?















The massacres or even genocide in Darfur, of course, are only part of the Sudanese death toll. The Sudanese civil war which preceded this horror resulted in the deaths of about 1.5 million people. While Israel's attack on Lebanon killed over a thousand people, the mass murder in Sudan is, as my title suggests (if in a cold, mathematical way), 15,000 times worse.

Many people, including myself, have been outraged by the repression and violence doled out by the governments of Iran, Ba'athist Iraq, pre- and post-Taliban Afghanistan, Israel, Turkey, and so on. It's long overdue for some of those people not only to express but to act upon outrage over the Sudanese government's colossal engine of human misery.

Whether as in Sudan's case the crisis is cloaked in Islamism or racialism or regionalism, or as elsewhere it's cloaked in Zionism or Americanism or Maoism or capitalism or Whitesupremacy or patriotism (or combo-platters thereof), the central problem is the same as it always is, everywhere: those who have almost nothing want a little something, and those who have much, much, much more than their share want everything. And the latter will burn to death the former's children to get it.

Democracy Now! reports:

"The Sudanese government has dramatically intensified its attacks in the Darfur region. This comes just days after the United Nations agreed to send in peacekeeping troops. The latest attacks threaten to return the region to a full-blown war. According to the Washington Post, government troops are bombing villages and waging increasing aggressive ground attacks.

"Humanitarian groups have been forced to curtail efforts to distribute food and health care to the region. Aid workers say that in recent weeks, civilian casualties, rapes and looting have all grown more widespread in Darfur. Meanwhile Sudan has threatened to expel 7,000 African Union troops from the region. Sudan has already rejected the UN peacekeeping force. "

TEXT AND AUDIO/VIDEO BACKGROUND LINKS

Darfur Violence Intensifies as Deadline for Withdrawal of AU Peacekeepers Looms
Sudan Rejects UN Proposal for Peacekeeping Force in Darfur as Security Deteriorates
Bush Administration Allied With Sudan Despite Role in Darfur Genocide
Salih Booker of Africa Action appears on the Lehrer Newshour to talk about the UN Report on Darfur
Salih Booker speaks with BlackElectorate.com on the background and the current dynamics of the crisis in Darfur
Justice for Sudan at iFILM.com
University of California votes to divest from Sudan!
Sudan Arrests Two Officials With Doctors Without Borders Following Report of Widespread Rapes in Darfur; CIA Secretly Restores Ties to Sudan Despite Ongoing Human Rights Abuses in Darfur
Chinweizu on Why Afrikans Must Resist Arabisation and Islamisation


UNITED HUMAN RIGHTS.org says:

"TAKE ACTION NOW – There is no time to waste. Act now to stop the Sudan Genocide and the killing of innocent people in Darfur.

protectdarfur.org
darfurgenocide.org
sudandivestment.org
anca.org"

To learn more about mass murder and exploitation in Sudan, visit:
Africa Action
Amnesty International

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Son of "Father of Afrocentricity" becomes professor in own right

"At 24, M.K. Asante Jr. already wears atop his dreadlocks the hats of award-winning film producer, author, journalist and poet. And he's adding another —- professor —- as he begins teaching creative writing, screenwriting and African American cinema at Morgan State University for the fall semester.

"The producer of an award-winning 2005 documentary about the African diaspora, 500 Years Later, has joined Morgan State's English and Language Arts department alongside Chair Dolan Hubbard, who says the department is pushing for a 'multi-genre approach' by incorporating screenwriting, journalism and literature into its 'English department for the 21st century.'


"Hubbard said Asante, who will also be teaching a spring class about hip-hop, represents '360 degrees of blackness' because of his ability to tell the story of black triumph in a variety of forms, such as poetry and film.

"'He represents the blend of the hip-hop generation combined with a tremendous understanding of the black diaspora. He would challenge our students to climb every mountain because he stands on top of the mountain as sign and symbol of what they can accomplish,' he said."

Muslims & a Hasidic Jew kicked off of airplanes... time to kick off the dimwits, instead

How many Muslims have been kicked off of planes for the crime of FWM (flying while Muslim)? What about people who have t-shirts with Arabic phrases?

And now, get this, Air Canada has kicked off a Hasidic Jewish man for...
praying?

How about we just kick off the ninnies and knee-knockers, already? I agree with Fish Griwkowsky.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I'm judging the 3-Day Novel Contest and loving it

Yep. Novels written in three days by twelve crazy people.

Judged by three crazy people (including me).


The Edmonton Sun writes: "The Bachelor showed off Whyte Avenue as a fine place for romance, amid the sidewalk gum spots and keg apes. Canadian Idol had theatrical locals praying for their amigo's high-end national karaoke run.

"If successful, the new idea of turning the long-running tradition of marathon book writing into a dog (or gong) show has vastly more creative potential than any combination of on-camera uber-dating and cover-singing. Namely, the seeds of permanent literary achievement.

"The goal of Book Television's 3-Day Novel Contest, playing out live this weekend at South Point Chapters on Calgary Trail and 32 Avenue is to ease 12 writers from across Canada through the same number of new, 90-page novels....

"After three days of live updates on national television, the novels will be read and judged by Vancouver's Jenn Farrell and two of our city's best writers - both of whom delightfully write books set in Edmonton. They are Todd Babiak (Choke Hold, The Garneau Block) and Minister Faust (The Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad and The Notebooks of Dr. Brain, which will be published by Random House next February). Faust, who will be judging a poetic challenge at 8 tonight, muses on the idea of the literature process being boiled down to boob tube entertainment.

"Why not?" he smiles. "Writing is so solitary I think that some people who want to write are really mystified by it. And there are writers who have contributed to the kind of deceit that we're wizards of some sort. We're not wizards. We just have to work really hard. It's good to show that writing is not some mysterious, secret process, and hopefully it may help people finish their own projects.

"As a writer, you're either held in zero esteem or high esteem, referring to people such as Shakespeare as gods. That's all nonsense. It's work and it can be fun.

"But if the contestants just tear their freaking guts out this weekend," the Minister adds, "right on."