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Archive for July, 2009

Image vs. Substance

Harvard Scholar Disorderly

Image vs. Substance

Whether Obama is in the White House, or not, to expect America to be a color blind country is too naive. The question should not focus on the presence of Racist cops in the land. Of course, there are. They are only a reflection of the society at large. The question should be on how the good professor tried to deal with the cops. More on the professor, later.

Whether the president of the U.S. is an African-American or not, according to a report by the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment rate for African-Americans in June of 2009 was 15.3 while for Whites the unemployment rate was 8.8 for the same period.

Whether the President’s father came from Kenya or not, a very high percentage of African-Americans continue to be in prison. In a very good study on the subject, professor Pamela Oliver of the University of Wisconsin at Madison writes, “US imprisonment rates are much higher than the rest of the world, and within the US,  African Americans are imprisoned at least eight times as often as European Americans, About a third of African American men are under the supervision of the criminal justice system, and about 12% of African American men in their 20s and 30s are incarcerated.” How sad? But this is the reality.

This is the disparity between image and substance. I am sure a lot of people had wrongly assumed that Obama’s Presidency would overhaul the economic ( anarcho-capitalism) and social problems facing the country. This is nothing but to underestimate the choke hold powerful forces have on the system. The election of the first African-American president in the U.S. had even given false hopes to Africans. While it is nice for the image of the U.S. president to fly to Ghana for photo-ops for less than a twenty four hours stay, in terms of substance, the trip’s usefulness for the benefit and interest of Africa is close to nil. Stop looking at Africa as your step child. You want to help, join forces with the African Union and try to find solution to the problem in Somalia.

As my dear friend Ashley St.Claire is fond of saying, “A conclusion reached based on wrong assumptions is a sign of stupidity”.

Back to the issue of Professor Gates. The president was upset because the police had ”mistreated “ his ” friend”. The President said,  “Well, I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here. I don’t know all the facts. Now, I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home”

If the president did not have all the facts, wouldn’t it have been advisable to wait before uttering the unfortunate “stupidity” comment? Less than twenty four hours later, the White House realizing the damage caused, the president told reporters, “My sense is you’ve got two good people in a circumstance in which neither of them were able to resolve the incident in the way that it should have been resolved,” Then he let the world know that he had called Sergeant Crawley and has extended an invitation to the White House.So,now, the focus is not on the economy but on the arrest of a dear friend.

As one of the die hard supporters of the president, Jon Stewart said, “I wasn’t at the press conference last night, and I also don’t have all the facts, but I think it’s fair to say that Obama handled that question — oh, what’s the word I’m looking for — stupidly?” OOPS.

Professor Gates who most certainly has no clue as to what happens to the average African American on a daily basis, may be, thought of himself so exceptional that he wondered how dare this cops want to check his I.D. As is always the case, ivory towers make professors feel patrician. Certain globe-trotting African-American professors actually have no understanding of the economic and social hell hole a very high percentage of African-Americans are in at this moment. But there are those who speak on their behalf (so-called experts) without feeling the pains, and sufferings of the people. This incident wouldn’t have been an issue, if Henry Louis Gates Jr. had cooperated with the police like an average citizen usually does.

This I am sure will be a profitable incident for those who will write, direct, and appear in the up-coming documentary on racism in the police force. Stay tuned. The actions of the jokers at ivory towers never cease to amaze me. Lighten up. Don’t take yourselves too seriously.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

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map-ghana-africa-imp

E-waste in Ghana.

 

 

Ghana which has been viewed as one of Africa’s most stable democracies, has recently been getting bad press as the dumping ground for electronics waste. According to Greenpeace, “The latest place where we have discovered high tech toxic trash causing horrendous pollution in Ghana. Our analysis of samples taken from two electronic waste (e-waste) scrap yards in Ghana has revealed severe contamination with hazardous chemicals.”

 

There is an international treaty that was designed to make the transfer of hazardous waste from developed to developing countries illegal. This treaty, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal was also intended  to ensure environmentally sound management of toxic wastes. In spite of the lofty goals of the convention, corrupt traders whose only motive is profit by any means, even if it means death to the young boys who breath the toxic fumes in Agbogbloshie market in Accra, Ghana. By the way, the United States has not ratified the Basel convention. For a seemingly environmentally conscious president like Barak Obama, it should be a priority to ratify the convention. Can the U.S. ratify the Basel convention? Yes, it can.

 

Realizing that Obama’s trip to Ghana was more symbolic than substantive, it is understandable that there was not enough time ( less than 24 hours) for President John Atta mills to have raised all the issues of concern to Ghana. Yet, during the bilateral meeting and breakfast with President Obama, was e-waste dumping in Ghana by western nations including the U.S. discussed as an issue? If not, the leadership in Ghana has lost a historical opportunity to show the leader of the most powerful country on earth, how the west is again committing a crime on Africa. Had President Obama seen the e-waste dump in Accra, Ghana, I am sure he would have been emotionally affected as he was during his visit to Cape Coast Castle.

 

Dumping of toxic waste within the environs of Agbogbloshie, a suburb of Accra, has attracted international concern, as it should. The challenge is for the leadership in Ghana to be able to respond to this environmental menace.

 

In his speech in Ghana, President Obama said, “Africa’s future is up to Africans,” he also said, “Development depends upon good governance. That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long,” “That is the change that can unlock Africa’s potential. And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans.” Very true.

 

In order for Africans to “unlock Africa’s potential”, the U.S. and other Western nations would have to stop being part of all interferences that actually hinder the progress of Africa.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

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pope benedict

Pope Benedict XVI: Capitalism without Ethics.

As the world was preparing for the 2009 G8 summit that was held in L’Aquila, Italy, Pope Benedict XVI came out with his encyclical letter entitled Charity in Truth. In this third encyclical of his pontificate the pope dealt with a number of issues including the environment, energy, migration, etc.

What grasped my total interest and attention was his just attack on unrestrained capitalism without any ethics. He wrote, “Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty. “ As someone who has been concerned with anarcho-capitalism (an economic system that destroys government regulation of the economy, and creates anarchy within the global economic system) I think the Pope’s comments on capitalism is timely.

The conscious deregulation of the economy that started during the Reagan administration in the U.S. reached its climax during President George W. Bush’s tenure and has brought the global economic chaos the world is in at the moment. Their bankrupt economic theory of the  market policing itself, has proven to be as hollow as their dreams of making trillions of dollars without manufacturing anything.

“Today, as we take to heart the lessons of the current economic crisis, which sees the State’s public authorities directly involved in correcting errors and malfunctions, it seems more realistic to re-evaluate their role and their powers, which need to be prudently reviewed and remodeled so as to enable them, perhaps through new forms of engagement, to address the challenges of today’s world.”

In other words, government’s role in the economy is not only indispensable for the smooth running of the economy, but also, for protecting the rights of the workers that actually produce profit.

Another crucial point the pope raises is the issue of economic disparity in society.

“The dignity of the individual and the demands of justice require, particularly today, that economic choices do not cause disparities in wealth to increase in an excessive and morally unacceptable manner, … Through the systemic increase of social inequality, both within a single country and between the populations of different countries (i.e. the massive increase in relative poverty), not only does social cohesion suffer, thereby placing democracy at risk, but so too does the economy, through the progressive erosion of “social capital”: the network of relationships of trust, dependability, and respect for rules, all of which are indispensable for any form of civil coexistence.”

This is quiet an apt warning for countries like the U.S. which has carried out the biggest transfer of wealth to its wealthiest citizens in the history of humankind. Something without a doubt is wrong in the picture of wealth distribution in the U.S. where the wealthiest one percent of the population own half of the nation’s wealth, while the rest ninety nine percent of the population fights for the remaining fifty percent. This truly is a “trickle down economy” the super majority fighting for the crumbs, the leftovers.

“Society does not have to protect itself from the market, as if the development of the latter were ipso facto to entail the death of authentically human relations. Admittedly, the market can be a negative force, not because it is so by nature, but because a certain ideology can make it so. It must be remembered that the market does not exist in the pure state. It is shaped by the cultural configurations which define it and give it direction. Economy and finance, as instruments, can be used badly when those at the helm are motivated by purely selfish ends.”

Let’s hope, that our elected leaders will rise up to protect the interests of the majority of their citizens.

Professor Mekonen Haddis

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Zealous for war

Zealous for war

Browsing through the Washington Post of July 2, 2009, I was absorbed by an article that was salivating for war. It was written by John R. Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. who is now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Ambassador Bolton seems to be pressed for time.  His contempt for diplomacy and engagement is obvious. Most of all, Mr. Bolton is rushing to stop Obama’s administration from “allowing Iran to have a peaceful civil nuclear program, while publicly renouncing the objective of nuclear weapons.” While the ambassador is certain that Obama’s policy of engagement with Iran is bound to fail, he is not forthcoming with alternative solutions. What is the U.S. supposed to do in the absence of a diplomatic engagement with Iran? Go to war? Invade Iran?

While avoiding giving a hint as to what the U.S. should do against Iran, Mr. Bolton wants Israel to attack Iran’s “weapons facilities”. He also states, that “ Israel’s decision of whether to use military force against Tehran’s nuclear weapons program is more urgent than ever.”

Without explaining the urgency for a military attack, he goes on to tell Israel and the world, on how easy the mission is going to be. He writes, “significantly, the uprising in Iran also makes it more likely that an effective public diplomacy campaign could be waged in the country to explain to Iranians that such an attack is directed against the regime, not against the Iranian people”.

This is an utter failure in correct analysis. A policy decision taken based on wrong assumptions is disastrous. (Like Iraqis would welcome the invading force with open arms and songs, nonsense). If there is one action that would totally galvanize the Iranian people in support of Ahmadinejad and the Guardian Council, it would be an attack by Israel.

Moreover, Mr. Bolton’s call for an attack on Iran is void of certain considerations in the interests of the U.S. In short, Iran’s influence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon should not be underestimated by someone claiming to be in the business of following international affairs.

Mekonen Haddis.

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Whoredom

Whoredom.

“ In the hell brew of media whoredom that began spewing forth when word of Michael Jackson’s demise got out, 5 p.m. –ish Eastern time Thursday, CNN leapt from 1.1. million viewers to 4 million, MSNBC jumped from 600,000 to 2 million, and FOX News Channel bounced from 2 million to 3.5 million. Not surprisingly, Larry King, the man the world turns to for dead people, clocked 4 million”. So wrote, Lisa de Moraes, (The TV column, Wash. Post.)

I think I like her. She writes the way it is supposed to be written. For someone who has spent a lot of time with whores in academia, I have an acute sense whenever whoredom is mentioned.

Whoredom is not limited to the media nor academia. Some of those so-called leaders in the third world, who are in positions of power to fulfill the wishes of their foreign masters, instead of working for the interests of their citizens are prostitutes. Worse are those who beg their foreign masters to help them overthrow those regimes so that they become better whores in the name of Democracy.

I have the highest of regards to those who have licenses and pay taxes from their incomes as whores. It is those who prostitute without licenses, and hide under the guise of peoples’ representatives that irk me. Specially, when I see them in the tube with their lobbyist purchased suits and silk ties.

Our U.S. members of Congress, who have always sold us out to the interests of big business, are the leading members of whoredom. Our representatives who haven’t met a lobbyist they didn’t like are of the highest echelon of prostitutes. They don’t come cheap, but still are whores.

Just to spite me, I know what congress would do to the health care bill. The congress men would bend in so many ways humanly possible, to accomplish what insurance lobbyists ask of them. Once they have satisfied their masters, they will throw out the health care bill. They are well paid, and they would do what is expected in whoredom.

Mekonen Haddis

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