Monday, August 29, 2011

Mr. President, Get Your Veto Pen

Today, I received a frank e-mail from Democrats Abroad/Guatemala, saying:
The Tea Party capture of the Republican majority in the House has led to an endless series of efforts to emasculate the Federal Government. And, this warfare against constructive Federal Government is certain to resume as soon as the Congress returns to Washington at the end of the month.
Remind me if I'm wrong, but the Tea Party and the Republican Party have not passed a bill that the President didn't subsequently sign.  It seems that there is no bill too ridiculous for the President to put his name on it.  Likewise, there is no bill so obscene that the President would consider vetoing it.

The President should ignore what the Congress does, except to say that he will veto anything obscene (e.g. cuts in Social Security benefits, medical safety net programs and pensions for those who have served in the military.  The President must announce that, by virtue of the US Constitution, it is HIS obligation to make sure that harmful, dangerous or obscene bill turn into law, by virtue of his veto pen.  If there is nothing that President Obama cannot accept, then President Obama stands for nothing at all.

Is the American Diabetes Association Research Foundation Excluding HBCU’s From Research?


by L.N. Rock

According to the American Diabetes Association, African Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes as 3.7 million or 14.7 percent of all African Americans aged 20 years or older have diabetes. In addition:

-African Americans are 1.8 times more likely to have diabetes as non Hispanic whites
-25 percent of African Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have diabetes.
-1 in 4 African American women over 55 years of age has diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association (the Association) is a not-for-profit voluntary health agency that works to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. In October 1994, the Association’s Board of Directors established the American Diabetes Association Research Foundation, Inc. (the Foundation), as a subsidiary of the Association. The objective of the Foundation is to fund diabetes-related research leading to the prevention and cure of diabetes, the prevention and cure of the complications of diabetes, and new and improved therapies for individuals affected by diabetes.

Get this, the Foundation is exempt from income taxes under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (the Code) and charitable contributions to the Foundation qualify for charitable tax deductions as described in the code. The Foundation has been classified as an organization that is not a private foundation under Section 509(a) of the code. Even though they appear to have a bias against HBCU’s and black researchers. More on this later…

Research grants awarded by the Foundation generally extend over a period of one to three years, subject to renewal on an annual basis.

Upon investigation and review of the financial reports and records, this writer has found that Historically Black Colleges and Universities have been totally left out of the American Diabetes Association Research Foundation, Inc ward process as selected grantees.

Compared to the general population, African American researchers and HBCU’s are not receiving grant research dollars from the American Diabetes Association Research Foundation.

As an example, the Foundation provided over $33 million in research grants in 2010 without one gong to a HBCU. If one looks at their annual reports for ADA 2009 Research Foundation Financials and 2009 IRS Form 990 you will see the same challenge in the 2008 IRS Form 990, (check out the grantee database for information on ADA-funded research grant awardees), 2007 IRS Form 990 and 2006 IRS Form 990, no black awardees, no HBCU’s researchers

In other words the American Diabetes Association Research Foundation, Inc has not awarded not one research grant to HBCUs, even with the high incidence of black Americans with diabetes.

It is clear to this writer that the American Diabetes Association Research Foundation is saying that it has no interest in developing a strong research relationship with HBCU’s in relationship to issues of research related to the prevention and cure of diabetes, the prevention and cure of the complications of diabetes, and the development of new and improved therapies for individuals affected by diabetes.”

Although the ADA Research Foundation asks Americans to make a donation to the American Diabetes Association to help fund leading-edge research that affects the health and well-being of millions of people living with diabetes. It’s clear that funds are being awarded to friends and pals of the Board of ADA, and HBCU’s are being left out of the grant awards.

This should be no surprise. Rob Stein over at The Washington Post just reported on how Black scientists are significantly less likely than white researchers to win grants from the National Institutes of Health, according to an audit released Thursday that confirmed disturbing suspicions inside the agency about a lingering bias against African Americans.

Who said education is the great equalizer? When it comes to color aroused bigotry, it makes no difference if it’s NIH or the American Diabetes Association Foundation; color continues to play a factor in the way we address research of diseases in this country, particularly as it relates to African Americans.

It’s too bad for America, too bad for those with diabetes, and too bad for HBCU’s and black researchers.

L. N. Rock is a management consultant, Democratic strategist, and 2008 credentialed blogger at the Democratic National Convention. He blogs at African American Pundit.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Obama's CIA Efforts Wildly Successful in Middle East and Africa, but He Still Can't Be Re-Elected


With rebels entering and apparently capturing Tripoli, the capital of Libya, (on the south side of the Mediterranean Sea, and on the north coast of Africa, President Obama will have one more notch on his belt when he debates Republicans over foreign policy.  President Obama can (probably quite truthfully) assert that his Central Intelligence Agency's efforts were essential to regime change in Libya, but it was not possible to publicize these efforts at the time, lest Quaddafi use US interference to undermine Libyan public support for the "freedom fighters" (oops, "rebels").

President Obama can tick off a list of countries in which regime change has occurred or is the process of occurring.  I, frankly, cannot remember them all, so long is the list.  If President Obama is smart, and I believe that he is, he will neutralize and even win over some Independent and Republican foreign policy hawks by pointing to the success at Middle East and Africa regime change that Obama has presided over during his presidency.  Arguably, these changes are second only in importance to fall of the Soviet Union during Ronald Reagan's watch, and Obama will surely point that out.

President W. Bush (and candidate John McCain and his advisers) made no secret of their desire for regime change in various in the Middle East and Africa.  Neo-conservative foreign policy visionaries (once believed to be hallucinatory) can only be ecstatic with the "Freedom Spring" in the Middle East and North Africa, or whatever the US-supported and trained "freedom fighters" (excuse me, "rebels") are calling it.

So, even as Republican Presidential and Congressional candidates criticize Obama on domestic economic policy, they will be compelled to acknowledge the dramatic and (to them) highly desirable change in regimes in various countries in the Middle East and Africa.

For example, if the President of Syria leaves office, Obama can claim a major behind-the-scenes role.  If he doesn't leave office President Obama can insist that it's only a matter of time, and recently history makes this claim credible.

In spite of the likelihood of a number of failed states as a result, considerable violence and some civil wars in which "regime derailment" has occurred but "regime-change" (to another solid regime) has faltered, (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan,  and what was the other recent one?), Obama can claim that democracy (otherwise known as the US's unfettered access to oil, supply routes and markets) has been achieved in an astounding array of countries under Obama's watchful manipulation of CIA assets in the various countries.

(In fact, a lot of people are checking with the Truth About Kos blog to see if Warren Weinstein, who worked with US-AID, and was a US contractor in Pakistan when kidnapped recently, might also be a CIA agent or asset.)

It is well-known that the US Government and USA "democracy-oriented" non-government organizations have been training citizens in countries across the Middle East and Africa to take part in just the sort of non-violent civil resistance (followed by violent challenges to governments) that has been occurring.  As US Election Day 2012 draws near, Obama's CIA spokespersons will speak out proudly about some of the CIA/USAID dots that only conspiracy observers such as myself have seen as highly probable or obvious all along.

And hasn't Obama attacked Libya with drones and then direct air strikes, under the cover of NATO?  Obama may have presided over a lousy and worsening economy that will be at its lowest point on Election Day 2012, with the largest transfer of wealth from the population and the people's Government to the banks and brokerage houses of the rich in the history of America, but no one can doubt his willingness to use force in ways that minimize US soldiers' exposure and also minimize the overt appearance of meddling in foreign countries' internal politics, in order to achieve neoconservative foreign policy goals, but without being seen within these countries as the rebels' puppet master, even when the US is the rebellion puppet master.

Give Obama a "ten" on regime change and expert use of US forces in the Middle East and Africa. I am unalterably opposed to all that he has done, and I do not agree that he and other unseen US forces and organizations have the right to do as they have.  But, they have succeeded at the neoconservatives' expressed foreign policy goals, and that is what counts in American foreign policy debates.

However, let's recall that George H. W. Bush (the first Bush) won the first Gulf War and then lost the 1992 Election (in far less seriously economically disastrous times), because people just didn't believe G.H.W.B. had the awareness and determination to deal with America's economic malaise that Bill Clinton did.

Don't compare Obama with Jimmy Carter, because Obama has been far more successful in foreign policy.  Instead, compare Obama to George H.W. Bush, who lost his 2002 re-election campaign because Americans just didn't feel confident about G.H.W.B's awareness of the need to improve the economy and his ability to do it, as compared to the proposals and energy of Bill Clinton.

If President Obama is fortunate and tends to his international interventions carefully, he will still be a "war president" on Election Day 2012.  With an abominably lousy opponent who embarrasses the Republican Party (as McCain and Palin did in 2008), Obama could win.

Personally, I would prefer that he bow out and bring Vice President Hillary Clinton to the fore as the Democratic Party's candidate.  Victories in the Middle East do not pay our mortgages, save our homes or put hot dogs and beans on the table.  We need victories in the unemployment rate and in mortgage re-negotiations with the banks that only exist today because of the largess they received in multiple Bush/Obama bail-outs.  We need to stabilize and "grow the economy" in ways that the Republican Congress will absolutely not permit while Obama would receive the credit.  We need a new and different president, without turning the White House over to the Republicans.

I personally no longer believe in Obama's commitment to basic Democratic Party policies, such as the maintenance of Social Security and safety-net programs.  I suspect that he has allowed or even suggested debacles like the debate over the debt ceiling so that he could accede to Republican demands that no Democratic voter can accept otherwise.

I simply do not trust President Obama anymore.  I have no confidence in his ability and determination to defend programs that the middle class and working poor depend upon and hold dear.  With each day, my concern increases over the aspects of the New Deal contract with America that President Obama may reluctantly throw overboard while blaming the Republicans for having made him do it.  I am afraid that Obama may be a Republican in Democratic bunting.

So, I would welcome a situation in which the vice president steps down, Obama nominates Hillary Clinton, and then Obama exits the national stage, leaving Hillary Clinton as the incumbent on Election Day, with her promise not to do what Obama has done in domestic economic policy.  It would not be constructive for a Democrat to challenge Obama, as Ted Kennedy challenged President Jimmy Carter in 1980.  But arguably it didn't make any difference then and it won't make any difference now.

I prefer that Obama acknowledge defeat in terms of domestic economic policy, and then clear his desk for Vice President Hillary Clinton to hold onto through and beyond Election Day 2012.  In a close race, we chose Obama over Clinton in 2008.  He has turned out to be a bitter disappointment, even to many Black bloggers such as me, the African American Pundit and Black Agenda Report.

As Rebecca Traister points out in today's New York Times, we cannot know that a Clinton presidency would have been different or better. What we DO know is that voters will be looking for change in the 2012 presidential race. We should give them a way to opt for change without opting for the Republican presidential candidate.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Brazil is Half Brown, But Has No Brown-Skinned Women Among 27 Miss Brazil 2011 Candidates

Look at this year's candidates for Ms. Brasil. Of approximately 27 from each state and the Federal District in the country, not a single one has brown skin, even though the population of Brazil includes 50% of Brazilians with brown or tan Afro-descendent skin (see statistics below).

Fonte: IBGE * 2005 , ** Censo 2010

Etnias (Ethnicities) no Brasil

Pardos: 42,6%  (means brown skin, like e.g. Francis L. Holland)
Brancos: 49,7%
Negros: 6,9%   (means brown or black skin)
Indígenas: 0,3%
Amarelos: 0,5%

The population of the state of Bahia, where I live, has a ratio of ten brown-skinned people for every three white-skinned people, and yet the state's representative at the Miss Brazil contest will be white-skinned, whatever her heritage may be.  And for at least the last two years, Ms. Bahia has been white.

In all fairness and reality, if you carefully study the faces of each of the women in the above video, specialist in who has recent African ancestry may be able to identify three or four women whose noses and lips are of a shape often associated with brown skin, even though their skin is not brown.  And some of these women may proudly state that they are Black.  However, the skin color test is quite evident here, as it is in many other parts of Brazilian society.

Miss. Amapá, Miss Ceará, Miss Espiritu Santo, Miss Maranhão, Miss Mato Grosso, Miss Paraíba, Miss Paraná, Miss Sergipe and Miss Tocantins' skin colors represent the outer limits of brownness for those seeking employment as dancers, guests and actors on many television soap operas and variety shows.  Any darker and they become invisible.

Just look at the all-white cast of a recent miniseries, called "Tí, Tí, Tí, to confirm that only three out of seventy-six characters have unambiguously brown skin, and one of the two Black women plays a maid.  In a country that is half brown, a television series has whites out-numbering Blacks by a ratio of 25 to 1.  Color-determined roles are worse on Brazilian television than politics South Africa's historical apartheid regimes.

The Ms. Brazil website foresees the controversy over an all-white competition and so it points out, in a special section entitled "Black Beauty," that one of the candidates for Ms. Brasil in 2010, Ms. Ceará, had copper-toned skin.  So, if you wait until next year, you may discover that a 50% brown and black-skinned country has at least one brown or black skinned contestant for Miss Brazil.  This year, the contest might as well be for Miss Switzerland.

I do not refer to "race" above, because it is entirely possible in Brazil that one or more of the women in the video has a brown-skinned parent or grandparent. So, it would be arbitrary and speculative to say that all of these women with white skin are from the "white race."

Instead, it is entirely possible that one or more of the women shown here considers herself to be Black. But NONE of them, out of approximately 27, has brown skin.  (There are 26 states and the Federal District in Brazil, each with a contestant for Miss Brazil.)

I would mention something like this to my beige-skin step-daughters, but they wouldn't understand how it was relevant that they had virtually zero percent chance of becoming Ms. Brazil, simply because their skin is too dark.

My obsession with realities such as these is one of the reasons I could not get along with my wife's daughters (e.g. I felt disgusted at the smell and the reality of their hot irons burning their hair straight, and their inability to understand why all-white institutions bothered me so), and so we split up.  You might well say that my family was a victim of color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior, at the individual, familial and societal levels.

Their mother would understand.  She has Rasta Locks, unlike the entire herd of Ms. Brazil candidates, all with straight and/or straightened hair.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Suspected Police Assassination of Black Father of Three Catalyzes Riots in British Cities and Towns

The Great Britain website, The Guardian, reports that the, Mark Duggan, a "29-year-old father-of-four was shot by police during an attempted arrest in Tottenham, north London, on Thursday," but there is suspicion that the police had decided to execute Duggan before the stopped him, or made that decision at the scene.  The Guardian also ran a story today whose title and subtitle say:
Mark Duggan did not shoot at police, says IPCC. [Independent Police Complaints Commission].  IPCC releases initial findings of ballistics tests in police shooting of Mark Duggan, whose death sparked London riots."
Explaining the initials and role of the IPCC, the agency's website says:
The IPCC was established by the Police Reform Act and became operational in April 2004. Its primary statutory purpose is to increase public confidence in the police complaints system in England and Wales.
The IPCC also investigates the most serious complaints and allegations of misconduct against the police in England and Wales, as well as handling appeals from people who are not satisfied with the way police have dealt with their complaint. 

Just as some of the rioters must have believed during the riots before the IPCC report was released today, Mr. Duggan may not have been shot in the chest by police for any justifiable reason.
The BBC says:
Mr. Duggan was killed in Ferry Lane, Tottenham Hale, by Metropolitan Police officers working for Operation Trident, which investigates gun crime in the black community.
The same BBC article says:
Speculation that Mr Duggan was "assassinated" in an execution style involving a number of shots to the head was "categorically untrue", the commission added.

Mr Duggan's brother Shaun Hall told Sky News that the family was "devastated" by his death and dismissed as "utter rubbish" claims he had shot at police.
Certainly, the suspicion that Mark Duggan was assassinated by police might be fueling riots, just as shooting such as this one triggered riots in the United States in the 1960's and early 1970's.  One white female British blogger, whose blog is called "Penny Red," describes the riots that seem to have taken over Great Britain in recent days:

I’m huddled in the front room with some shell-shocked friends, watching my city burn. The BBC is interchanging footage of blazing cars and running street battles in Hackney, of police horses lining up in Lewisham, of roiling infernos that were once shops and houses in Croydon and in Peckham. Last night, Enfield, Walthamstow, Brixton and Wood Green were looted; there have been hundreds of arrests and dozens of serious injuries, and it will be a miracle if nobody dies tonight. This is the third consecutive night of rioting in London, and the disorder has now spread to Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol and Birmingham. Politicians and police officers who only hours ago were making stony-faced statements about criminality are now simply begging the young people of Britain’s inner cities to go home. Britain is a tinderbox, and on Friday, somebody lit a match. How the hell did this happen? And what are we going to do now?
The Guardian provides additional details showing that the police vigilance and killing of Mark Duggan was not an ordinary traffic stop, but a well-planned confrontation:

A father of three died instantly after an apparent exchange of fire when police attempted to arrest him in north London, it emerged on Friday.

A police marksman escaped with his life when a bullet lodged in his radio during the confrontation that ended in the death of Mark Duggan, 29. The Scotland Yard firearms officer was taken to hospital and later released.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is investigating the fatal shooting, said the bullet and a non-police-issue handgun found at the scene had been sent for forensic tests.

IPCC investigators believe two shots were fired by an armed officer. A spokesman for the IPCC said that at around 6.15pm on Thursday officers from Operation Trident, the Metropolitan police unit that deals with gun crime in London's black communities, with officers from the Specialist Firearms Command (CO19), stopped a minicab to carry out a pre-planned arrest. (Emphasis added.)
How did a pre-planned arrest of a man believed to be armed nonetheless result in a "shoot-out"?  The perception, and the belief among rioters that police should not execute members of the public, might be the simple explanation of why Blacks and others are rioting in Great Britain.  Now that an official agency reports that the victim didn't fire at police, the riots could continue and even spread.

Penny Red says:
As I write, the looting and arson attacks have spread to at least fifty different areas across the UK, including dozens in London, and communities are now turning on each other, with the Guardian reporting on rival gangs forming battle lines. It has become clear to the disenfranchised young people of Britain, who feel that they have no stake in society and nothing to lose, that they can do what they like tonight, and the police are utterly unable to stop them. That is what riots are all about.