•Must listen: The Here and Now Program on WBUR–heard by 370 NPR affiliates– revisited the impact of the 1985 SUN CITY music project on energizing the anti-apartheid movement. Co-host Robin Young brought me together with musician/Producer Little Steven Van Zandt who wrote the song and drove the effort to enlist 58 artists in the fight against apartheid. We are both interviewed they play some of the great anti-apartheid songs of the time.
I was also on the air yesterday with Curtis Sliwa, Gary Null and KGNU Radio in Colorado. An on again/off again appearance on Al Jazeera America was ultimately off again and may be rescheduled. If you live by the news cycle, you die by the news cycle….When I saw that budget story coming, I knew I would be going…
•I also marked Human Rights Day by going to see a powerful film about the persecution of Falun Gong and lawyers who try to defend them in China. The film: “Transcending Fear: The Story of Gao Zhisheng”
•Today in NYC: The Consulate General of the Republic of South Africa and The Riverside Church in the City of New York invite you to the New York Memorial Service for President Nelson Mandela.
Please join us for a service of Praise and Thanksgiving for the life of President Nelson Mandela.
on Wednesday, December 11, 2013
from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm
at The Riverside Church
490 Riverside Drive (between 120th and 122nd)
New York, NY 10027
•Watch: Maya Angelou’s Poem For Mandela
The body of Nelson Mandela is due to be taken in procession to the Union Buildings in Pretoria where it will lie in state for three days.
Mandela Mania Memorial In South Africa
I was able to watch the Mandela Memorial service In South Africa from the warmth of my room in New York. I had been toying with going theorem but after seeing how wet and controlled it was today, I was happy I didn’t. I realized that it was unlikely I could get access to any of the leaders who, robot like, each took their turn reading pro forma speeches, droning on into the ether.
•Merci, Agence France Press, for making the connection available.
It was gesture politics for something I certainly supported,
I missed President Obama’s speech, suffered through South Africa’s President Zuma who, as the host, was allowed, to his detriment, to go on and on, forever. (He was booed by some of his many political critics.) Raul Castro showed some passion (and even shook the hand of the head of the country that has kept an embargo on Cuba for 60 years.) China’s VP was all smiles when he spoke in English at the end of his remarks in Chinese.
It was dejavu all over taking me back to the Mandela inauguration in 1994 when many of the same or similar presidents, excellencies, and majesties showed their faces, many from countries with serious human rights problems on this international human rights day.
I was startled to hear the the person hosting the event cite the presence of Israel’s Binjamin Netanyahu. Bibi must have been on some old list. They didn’t seem to know that the head of a country that gets over $3 BILLION in US Aid could not “afford” to come. Here’s a report in India’s, The Hindu: (I couldn’t afford to buy the story from Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper that hides its content behind a pay wall:
•Netanyahu censured as he skips Mandela’s funeral
The balance sheet prepared by those who control the Prime Minister’s purse string showed that the exchequer would be poorer by $1.9 million if Mr. Netanyahu had taken the trip.
The decision by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to skip Nelson Mandela’s funeral, citing cost considerations, has been roundly slammed in the domestic media, where newspaper columnists have contrasted his penny-pinching to keep away from paying respects to an anti-Apartheid icon, with his extravagant personal spending style at home.
Mr. Netanyahu apparently took the decision to drop out from visiting Soweto, because the trip would have made a dent in his expense account.
The balance sheet prepared by those who control the Prime Minister’s purse string showed that the exchequer would be poorer by $1.9 million if Mr. Netanyahu had taken the trip.
Taken aback by the rationale for the decision, Israeli website Ynetnews said it is “unthinkable that [Mr.] Netanyahu can’t tell the difference between an official trip to an event attended by all of the world’s leaders and grandiose water bills or expenses related to personal hedonism”.
The attack was even sharper by the daily Haaretz, with one of its columnists opining that by skipping the funeral for Mandela, Mr. Netanyahu proved “that he is not the smug, petty, vindictive, waffling, in-your-face insulting man he seems. He’s something worse”.
The article went on to say the Prime Minister had sent a message: “My Israel, which so craves and demands legitimacy and recognition as a full partner in the community of nations, does not consider a man like Nelson Mandela, or a nation like South Africa, or the sentiment of an entire world, worth the price of a plane flight.”
•••Who Was There?: A Tribute To Madiba’s Power To Unite The World
Here’s a full list of heads of state, government leaders and ministers based on information provided by the South African government and reporting by The Associated Press:
- Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
- Angolan Vice President Manuel Vincent.
- Argentinian Acting President Amado Boudou.
- Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
- Bahamas’ Prime Minister Perry Christie.
- Bangladesh’s President Abdul Hamid.
- Belgian Prime Minister Elio di Rupo and King Philippe.
- Benin’s President Boni Yayi.
- Botswana’s President Seretse Ian Khama.
- Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and three of her predecessors, including Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
- British Prime Minister David Cameron, deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and former Prime Minister Tony Blair.
- Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza.
- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and three of his predecessors.
- Chadian President Idriss Deby.
- Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao.
- Comoros’ President Ikiliou Dhoinine.
- Congo’s President Joseph Kabila.
- Croatian President Ivo Josipovic.
- Cuban President Raul Castro.
- Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout.
- Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Prince Frederik.
- Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh.
- East Timor’s Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.
- El Salvador’s Foreign Minister Jaime Miranda.
- Equatorial Guinea’s President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
- Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
- European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
- European Union Council President Herman Van Rompuy.
- Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.
- French President Francois Hollande and his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.
- Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba.
- Gambian President Yahya Jammeh.
- German President Joachim Gauck.
- Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama.
- Guinean President Alpha Conde.
- Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar.
- Haitian President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.
- Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Congress party leader Sonia Ghandi.
- Irish President Michael Higgins.
- Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta.
- Ivory Coast’s President Allasane Ouattara.
- Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.
- Japan’s Crown Prince Naruhito and former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.
- Jordanian Queen Rania and Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour.
- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
- Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
- Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
- Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
- Malawi’s President Joyce Banda.
- Malaysian Energy Minister Maximus Ongkili.
- Mauritius’ Prime Minister Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.
- Mexican President Pena Nieto.
- Morocco’s Prince Moulay Rachid.
- Mozambique’s President Armando Emilio Guebuza.
- Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba.
- Nepalese Foreign Minister Madhav Prassad Ghimire.
- The Netherlands’ Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans and King Willem-Alexander.
- New Zelands’s Prime Minister John Key.
- Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou.
- Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
- Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Crown Prince Haakon.
- Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain.
- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
- Philippines’ Vice President Jejomar Binay.
- Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski.
- Portuguese President Cavaco Silva.
- Saudi-Arabia’s Deputy Prime Minister Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
- Senegalese President Macky Sall.
- Serbian President Tomislav Nicolic.
- Seychelles President James Michel.
- Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak.
- Slovenia’s President Borut Pahor.
- South Korean Prime Minister Hongwon Chung.
- South Sudan’s President Salva Kir Mayardi.
- Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Prince Felipe.
- Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
- Sudanese Vice President Bakri Hassan Salih.
- Suriname’s President Desire Delan Bouterse.
- Swaziland’s Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini.
- Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and Princess Victoria.
- Swiss President Ulrich Maurer.
- Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.
- Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
- Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki.
- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
- U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay.
- U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his predecessor Kofi Annan.
- U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama as well as former presidents George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary.
- Uruguay’s Foreign Minister Luis Almagro.
- Vatican official Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana.
- Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro.
- Zambia’s President Michael Sata.
- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
•The NY Times, natch, led with Obama:
Huge cheers greeted Mr. Obama as he rose to offer a eulogy that blended a personal message with a broader appeal for Mr. Mandela’s values to survive him. South Africans, swathed in their national colors, some wearing wraparounds bearing Mr. Mandela’s portrait, celebrated their former president as both an inspiration and an inherited memory for those raised in the post-apartheid era.
“To the people of South Africa — people of every race and every walk of life — the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us,” President Obama said. “His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph. Your dignity and hope found expression in his life, and your freedom, your democracy, is his cherished legacy.”
Sheets of driving rain swept across this former segregated township — an urban sprawl within sight of the glittery high rises of downtown Johannesburg — keeping some mourners away from the 95,000-capacity FNB Stadium where Mr. Mandela made his last public appearance during the soccer World Cup in 2010. The stadium was far from full as the start of the memorial approached.
“Even heaven is crying,” one woman in the crowd declared as the deluge continued. “We have lost an angel.”
For those tens of thousands who entered the stadium, the memorial service, part of a 10-day period of national mourning since Mr. Mandela died last Thursday, was a moment that fused revolutionary memories of the fight against apartheid with appeals for the values of forgiveness and reconciliation. Songs of the struggle, as the anti-apartheid campaign is known, blended with hymns and prayer.
Some stomped their feet as young protesters did during the years of protest that led to Mr. Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 after 27 years of incarceration.
•Global Information Network: UNPRECEDENTED SOCIAL MEDIA OUTPOURING AT MANDELA’S PASSING
Dec. 10 (GIN) – Record numbers of Facebook and Twitter users posted their thoughts and prayers for former South African leader Nelson Mandela and the nation with numbers running in the hundreds of thousands.
Poems, videos, prayers and elegies filled the internet ether, before, during and after the state’s memorial service which took place Tuesday under heavy rain in an open stadium in Soweto.
The loudest cheers – both virtual and online – were for Presidents Barack Obama and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
Close to 3 million followers were following “Nelson Mandela” on Facebook as opposed to 35,000 for current president Jacob Zuma. More than 800,000 were following Mandela on Twitter as of Tuesday afternoon.
Mugabe, who has been repeatedly compared in western media to the South Africa leader, had a chilly relationship with the departed.
Mandela once said of his Zimbabwean counterpart, “He was the star, and then the sun came out.” Speaking with former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Mandela hinted at a rivalry: “Before I was released from prison, (Mugabe) was the most popular African leader in this area, but when I was released, the media said this is the end of Mugabe from the point of view of popularity. In fact, he himself did not want me to come out of jail.”
Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza opined: “People like Mugabe regard South Africa as a later comer in the process toward independence, whereas South Africa has implicitly seen itself as the big brother in the region. So that tension has always been there.”
In Harare, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo retorted: “While the subtext of the gratuitous comparisons has been that other African leaders such as President Mugabe should emulate Mandela, the more important and rather self-evident fact is that God created only one Nelson Mandela with no clones in the same way he created only one Winston Churchill; one John F Kennedy, one Mao, one Lenin and one Mahatma Gandhi.
“In the same way that Britain has not had another Churchill and America has not had another Kennedy, Africa will not have another Mandela … the gratuitous comparisons of Mandela and other African leaders are ultimately a waste of time.”
The late Nobel prize-winner visited Zimbabwe once during his term in office. The main street to Zimbabwe’s parliament is named Nelson Mandela Avenue while South African currency that features Mandela’s face is legal tender in Zimbabwe.
•Resentment At International Tone of Memorial; Mail&GUardian: South Africans have been forgotten in government’s quest to give the world a memorial for Nelson Mandela that was meant to impress internationals.
•Stephen Gowans, ICH: Why the West Loves Mandela (and Hates Mugabe)
Mandela made sure that the flow of profits from South African mines and agriculture into the coffers of foreign investors and the white business elite wasn’t interrupted by the implementation of the ANC’s economic justice program.
•Washington Post: Exclusive: NSA uses Google cookies to pinpoint users to hack
The National Security Agency is secretly piggybacking on the tools that enable Internet advertisers to track consumers, using “cookies” and location data to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance.
The agency’s internal presentation slides, provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, show that when companies follow consumers on the Internet to better serve them advertising, the technique opens the door for similar tracking by the government. The slides also suggest that the agency is using these tracking techniques to help identify targets for offensive hacking operations.
The Hill: Ryan, Murray announce deal
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced a budget deal on Tuesday evening that would call for $1.012 trillion in federal spending in 2014 while replacing some sequestration cuts.’
The agreement falls far short of the grand budget bargain that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Obama once envisioned. But if passed, it will bring a measure of fiscal peace to the capital for the first time since Republicans wrested control of the House in 2010.
The deal also replaces some of the automatic spending cuts from the sequester in 2014 and 2015. Those cuts would be offset by a combination of increased federal worker retirement contributions, an increase in aviation fees, cuts to hospital payments, and postal reforms.
•Our MissingNews.com: “Budget Deal to the Full House and Senate” written by William Deane.
Democrats and Republicans have until Friday to accept the Budget proposal worked out by committee chairs Patty Murray and Paul Ryan. There’s lots of quiet unhappiness in the resolution designed to avert another government showdown at the end of the year. We’ll know on Friday if any of the powerful factions head off the expected passage by both houses.
The only carrot here is the much-wanted escape for the holidays by the 535 members of Congress. While showing a refreshing accommodation to compromise Democrat Murray and Republican Ryan have left untouched long-term unemployment benefits, meaning the program will end come December 31st. President Obama is pleading Congress renew the program for 1.3 Million Americans. Republicans claim the temporary program should be just that come the end of this year. Some Democrats are working to extend the unemployment program another 3 months.
As usual, the budget committee agreement is once again kicking the can down the road with this agreement calling for a 63-Billion dollar increase over the next 2 years. That is being met by 85-Billion dollars in deficit reductions not over the next 2 years but dragged out over the next 10 years. If approved by Congress, as expected on Friday, the proposal avoids a government shutdown on January 15th. But facing the possibility of another crisis Congress must up the deficit ceiling sometime in the first half of 2014 to avoid yet another world-wide degrading of America’s fiscal rating. Yes, Democrats and Republicans have shown they can at least compromise. The consequences of the October government shutdown, the first in 17 years, proved the public is “Mad as Hell,” and wouldn’t accept another one so quickly.
This is just a little deal, but the first one since 2009. Republicans aren’t getting their wanted across the board cuts. There are relatively small increases in domestic and military spending, raising discretionary spending from 1.012 Trillion next year to 1,014 Trillion in 2015. House speaker John Boehner, not known for reaching across the isle will need Democrat votes to push this budget to passage. There’s a growing Republican House opposition as the Sequester has been compromised and there are no cuts to long term debt. Airline passengers will be paying for more airport security. Federal workers would pay, if passed, 6-Billion more for their pensions. Cost-of-living increases for military pensions would slow saving 6 Billion over the next 10 years. And private companies would be required to pay more to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
The so-called Americans for Prosperity backed by the billionaire Koch brothers are against the Murray-Ryan budget agreement…and that means many Republicans in Congress are being told to vote “no,” just when they thought they they’d be home for Christmas.
•CLG: Transformer explosion, fire shuts down nuclear reactor in Arkansas –Explosion resulted in a fire at switchyard –Unit 2 will remain offline while the cause of the explosion is investigated and damages are assessed.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has activated its incident response center in Arlington, Texas, following an Unusual Event filing at the Arkansas Nuclear One power plant. Located in Russellville, Arkansas, ANO is a dual unit nuclear power facility owned and operated by Entergy. According to the NRC, operators at ANO declared an Unusual Event early Monday morning (12/09) after a transformer exploded in an electrical switchyard servicing Unit 2.
•Washington: Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority sign a historic agreement to lay a pipeline between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea that will provide all three countries with fresh water
Overcoming political obstacles representatives from the Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian governments signed a trilateral memorandum of understanding on water exchanges and allocations in Washington on Monday afternoon. Israeli Energy Minister Silvan Shalom, called this, “an historic event that realizes a dream of many years and the dream of Herzl. The agreement is of the highest diplomatic, economic, environmental and strategic importance, securing additional 100 million metric cubes of water supplies for residents of Israel, West Bank and Jordan.
Establishing a project called the Two Seas Canal, the pact was signed Monday afternoon at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., by Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority according to Israel’s Ministry of Regional Cooperation. The project addresses two problems: the acute shortage of clean fresh water in the region, especially in Jordan, and the rapid contraction of the Dead Sea. Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian officials said the agreement was proof that they could come to terms on a life-and-death issue.
• UN: 230 million children under 5 never registered
UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Nearly 230 million children under the age of five around the world have never had their birth registered, which often means they will be barred from education, health care and social security, the U.N. children’s agency said. A report by UNICEF to mark its 67th birthday on Wednesday said globally that amounts to one in three children under five.
•AP: Madoff Wept
NEW YORK (AP) – The former right-hand man of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff told a jury Tuesday that a crying Madoff revealed to him his financial empire was a gigantic fraud just before the rest of the world learned the truth nearly five years ago.
Frank DiPascali, Madoff’s former lieutenant and the government’s star witness at the trial of five former Madoff employees, said Madoff called him into his Manhattan office and told him to close the door behind him on a day Madoff, a former Nasdaq chairman, had spent staring out his window.
“Crying, he said: ‘I’m at the end of my rope. I have no more money,’” DiPascali told jurors in federal court on the eve of the five-year anniversary of Madoff’s arrest.
He said he asked his boss what he meant.
“I don’t have any more goddamned money! Don’t you get it?” DiPascali said Madoff responded.
As DiPascali testified, his voice rose and accelerated so fast that the judge directed him to slow down and speak more softly
••••Quote of the Day–Colin Powell
‘I am not an expert in health care, or Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, or however you choose to describe it, but I do know this: I have benefited from that kind of universal health care in my 55 years of public life,’ Powell said …”
•Letter to THe Editor: Lawrence Houghteling Writes to the NY Times for the Upteenth Time
Both the American and the Iranian leaders took risks to slow (and
perhaps, if all goes well) halt the development of an Iranian nuclear
force. (“A Breakthrough Agreement at Risk,” editorial, 12/9). The deal
they negotiated should be approved on both sides.
But if Congress screws up the deal, under pressure both from Israel and
more importantly from Israel’s American hit men, AIPAC, there may yet be
a silver lining, but only if some people in the upper reaches of
government (such as You-know-who) have the courage to point out the
moral of the story.
Here are two basic facts: first, the Israeli lobby has too much power,
and pushes many politicians — and hence the United States government —
around. That’s a fact (though many try to deny it). If most Americans
were made aware of how things really stand, I believe they would be angered.
Second, the Israelis have long since introduced nuclear weapons to the
Middle East. If Iran or any other neighboring country tries to “go
nuclear,” that’s just an attempt to keep up with the Israelis. The only
long-term solution is for Israel to de-nuclearize, and everyone else to
forgo going nuclear.
If Israel and AIPAC help destroy this Western agreement with Iran, a
courageous politician could use that action to illuminate the two facts
I’ve mentioned above. And try to do something to change them.”
•••Another Day, Another NewsDissector.net Blog. Hey people, help us get the word out. Please support this work. Write email@example.com. Visit Mediachannel.org and Madibabook.com
•Today, Dec 10th Is International Human Rights Day, the anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration of Human Rights fought for by Eleanor Roosevelt and many others. Today,there is a protest Against the official escalation of Deportations in New Jersey while President Obama salutes human rights hero Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
Vigil at Elizabeth Detention Center Calls for Stop to Deportations
In Last Week of 2013 Congress, NJ Community Asks President for Relief, End 400,000 Deportation Quota
Where: Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility, 625 Evans St, Elizabeth, NJ, 07201
When: 7:30am, Tuesday, December 10th.
The Nelson Mandela Marathon of Remembrance Goes on
•••Watch The Events on AFP.com. Check out the photos of the Memorial Service in South Africa on the Guardian photo blog.
•Today I will be on the national or mostly national NPR program Here and Now out of WBUR in Boston (Noon-2) with musican/actor Steven Van Zandt discussing the impact the SUn City Project had on he fight against Apartheid. Then at 12:30, I will joint Gary Null on Progressive Radio (PRN.fm)
•Interview: I was on the first hour of the Marc Steiner Public Radio Show on WEAA 88.9-FM oUt of Baltimore:
•UnderNews: Presidents who kept Nelson Mandela on the terrorist watchlist
George HW Bush
George W Bush (who signed the bill removing his terrorist status)
•The Hill: Obama calls Mandela ‘the last great liberator of the 20th century’
President Obama at a memorial on Tuesday in South Africa called the late Nelson Mandela “the last great liberator of the 20th century” who “earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness” along with “persistence and faith.”
Under a rainy sky at the start of summer in South Africa, Obama honored the nation’s first black president and anti-apartheid leader, who was a source of inspiration in Obama’s adult life.
He likened the late leader to Ghandi and Martin Luther King.
•Washington Tribute: In partnership with the South African Embassy, Washington National Cathedral will honor the life of Nelson Mandela and hold the United States national memorial service on Wednesday, December 11 at 11:00 a.m. EST. Vice President Joe Biden and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori will attend, as will many other American civil rights leaders and elected representatives. As it does during times of national celebration and loss, the Cathedral offers a sacred place to mourn the loss of this international leader in the fight for equality and human rights. A voice for justice domestically and around the world, the Cathedral stands with South Africans in mourning their loss and remembering the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela.
Details regarding how people can attend the service are available on the website of the Embassy of South Africa. [http://www.saembassy.org/mandela-memorial-rsvp-7/] The service will also be streamed live at [http://nationalcathedral.org.]
•LA Tribute: “Please join us in a new L.A. ART ATTACK, this Friday night, Dec. 6th, meeting at CANTER’S DELI on Fairfax, @10pm. I’ll be in our section in the back room, nicknamed “the hole,” (as usual). This time we have a little something different, hopefully, bringing a positive surprise vibe to the streets of LA: A celebration of NELSON MANDELA* and all that his life’s work and masterful statesmanship has meant to people everywhere, rising up for equality of representation and quality of life for everyone on the planet.
We’ve printed two matching versions, DANCING & WALKING**. The latter is for South Africa! Over 4,000 posters will be sent there in the next few months, courtesy of the amazing Capetown based ARTAIDSART.ORG. The former is my personal connection to the spirit of the man. Mandela loves music and dancing (doing his “Madiba Shuffle,” at every public appearance). As he says, “Music and dance are what make me at peace with the world…and at peace with myself.”
Nelson Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe tells the BBC about the former president’s “wonderful” final moments, with the whole family around him.
•AP: ‘Rainbow Nation’ mourners swarm Mandela’s mansion
JOHANNESBURG (AP) – Along a street lined with walled mansions shaded by graceful jacaranda trees, mourners, black and white, by the thousands rubbed shoulders Monday outside the villa where Nelson Mandela died, placing flower bouquets and condolence notes on top of piles already knee-high. Others danced while singing praise for the anti-apartheid leader – a vivid example of the “Rainbow Nation///”
•Tribute from Anant Singh, producer of Mandela Long Walk To Freedom and Ahmed “Kathy” Kathrada, Mandela’s close friend in prison and the struggle:
“Exactly fifty-seven years ago from the day and month of his passing, the 5th of December 1956, Madiba was arrested with other Treason Trialists. Since that time, in prison and out, he has made an indelible mark on our lives and the lives of millions of people around the world. Our freedom and our democracy is largely due to him. South Africa is a lot poorer having lost him, but we must celebrate his amazing largesse in liberating us.
Kathy has allowed me to share with you part of his 10 page letter to Madiba:
“We have known each other for 67 years, and I never imagined I’d be witness to the unavoidable and traumatic reality of your passing.
My visit to you in hospital was filled with an overwhelming mixture of sadness, emotion, and pride. At the same time it was profoundly heartbreaking and brought me to the verge of tears when my thoughts automatically flashed back to the man I grew-up under. How I wished the day never came when I had to confront the reality of the tall, healthy, and strong man with a commanding presence reduced to a shadow of yourself.
It is for these qualities that, in your illness and death, you once more unite a huge diversity of people in the goodwill, good wishes and prayers of the people of our country, and, indeed, of the entire world. In these qualities you continue to bring unity to a world so often torn apart by intolerance, by discrimination, by injustice, by the violence of poverty, and by fear and mistrust. Your power to inspire and bring out the good in people grows with each year that passes. I believe it is an incomparable gift, given at immeasurable personal cost, that will continue to cast a bright light in a world often beset by uncertainty and complex moral choices, both nationally and individually: a lodestar for leaders of substance and courage.
Indeed, your strength lies in your ability to reflect on your experience with honest and open eyes, to see where you may have made misjudgements and to adapt to changing circumstances. Your openness to change and to the collective guidance of the broadest collective of colleagues has fuelled the bright star of your leadership and the reach of your influence.
In spite of such suffering and humiliation you never showed any signs of lessening your concern for the welfare of your fellow prisoners: your empathy and compassion were a wellspring to all. This calibre of leadership defined what you and your colleagues brought to negotiations with apartheid leaders, which were entered into with the forward-looking spirit of forgiveness, reconciliation and nation-building. Once more, you placed the greater good above all else.
You never deviated from the principles that we were expected to uphold in the period of adversity.
It is that which enabled us to weather the most trying times in prison, and emerge unshaken.
The prisoners upheld your example of refusing to ask for preferential treatment, except for health reasons.
Having noted your sincerity and honesty as stated above, it is however impossible to alter the historically and universally acclaimed position that makes you the symbol of non-racialism, of reconciliation, of forgiveness and the undisputed founding father of the new South Africa. While we may be drowned in sorrow and grief, we must be proud and grateful that after the long walk paved with obstacles and suffering, we salute you as a fighter for freedom to the end.’
Our movie also attempts to celebrate him and honour him, to perpetuate his legacy and remind people of the world that he was only human and yet he made such a big difference in the lives of so many.
We have lost our father, an exceptional human being, a hero to the world. There has never been anyone like him and there never will be.
We should be inspired by his life and celebrate him with our love.”
•Slavoj Zizek, ICH: If Nelson Mandela Really Had Won, He Wouldn’t Be Seen as a Universal Hero
Mandela must have died a bitter man. To honor his legacy, we should focus on the unfulfilled promises his leadership gave rise to.
•Pepe Escobar, The Hijacking of Mandela’s Legacy
It’s a Tower of Babel of tributes piled up in layer upon layer of hypocrisy – from the US to Israel and from France to Britain.
•Sam Kleiner, Apartheid Amnesia
How the GOP conveniently forgot about its role in propping up a white supremacist regime.
•Ilyse Hoguem The Nation: Nelson Mandela, Feminist
Nelson Mandela’s passing has elicited a flood of personal memories and tributes from people he touched across the world. I am one of those people. In elementary school in Dallas in the early 1980s, I was fascinated by the televised images of mock shanty-towns on US college campuses. Questions about the South African divestment campaign started me down a path that opened up a world of social justice and politically inspired change.
In 2003, I visited South Africa during the World Summit on Sustainable Development and spent weeks working alongside local organizers in townships around Johannesburg and learning about the strategies they used to thrive even under the oppressive apartheid regime. Everywhere I went, I was blown away by how powerful the women were. Vocal and forthright, they were often their communities’ spokespeople and leaders.
That experience of strong female leadership owed more than a little to the Constitution of 1996, put in place largely by Mandela. In its new Bill of Rights it listed not only race as impermissible grounds for discrimination, but “gender,” and then “sex” and then, uniquely, it also added “pregnancy.” And in case the meaning of that was not clear, the Bill of Rights went on (emphasis added):
Everyone has the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes the right
a. to make decisions concerning reproduction
b. to security in and control over their body; and
c. not to be subjected to medical or scientific experiments without their informed consent.
This official recognition that gender equality requires embracing reproductive freedom remains a high-water mark of international law. This important commitment was foreshadowed by a law passed months before the constitution went into effect. The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy law—which replaced one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world with one of the most liberal and humane—allows South African women full autonomy to decide when to terminate a pregnancy in the first trimester, complete with financial assistance if required. (Abortion is also allowed within widely defined exceptions in the second trimester.) With this act, President Nelson Mandela transformed the lives of millions of South African women.
•RSN: Charles Pierce, Esquire, WikiLeaks Drops a Trove of TPP Docs
WikiLeaks and The Huffington Post have raised all kinds of unshirted hell this morning by publishing a trove of documents relating to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the gigantic new trade agreement which was negotiated largely in secret — unless, of course, you were a CEO or a lobbyist who worked for one — and which the administration is seeking to “fast-track” through Congress so as to avoid the kind of public scrutiny to which deals like this rarely stand up. OK, that last part’s me, but you get the point.
One of the most controversial provisions in the talks includes new corporate empowerment language insisted upon by the U.S. government, which would allow foreign companies to challenge laws or regulations in a privately run international court. Under World Trade Organization treaties, this political power to contest government law is reserved for sovereign nations. The U.S. has endorsed some corporate political powers in prior trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, but the scope of what laws can be challenged appears to be much broader in TPP negotiations.
The documents say pretty much what you’d expect them to say — that the provisions of the TPP grant multinational corporations vast new powers and that, among these, are virtual veto-powers over local environmental and labor laws, and that the agreement is a virtual Christmas tree on which corporations have hung all of their fondest individual wishes regarding future profiteering. (The drug companies seem particularly hopeful, which is to say incredibly greedy.) Large financial institutions seem happy, too.
The U.S. is also facing major resistance on bank regulation standards. The Obama administration is seeking to curtail the use of “capital controls” by foreign governments. These can include an extremely broad variety of financial tools, from restricting lending in overheated markets to denying mass international outflows of currency during a financial panic. The loss of these tools would dramatically limit the ability of governments to prevent and stem banking crise
(Let us pause right here to acknowledge that any counter-argument based on what a schmuck you think Julian Assange is will be ruled out of order as immaterial and irrelevant to the matter at hand. Thank you.)
•Pam Martens: New Documents Show How Power Moved to Wall Street, Via the New York Fed
•David Swanson: Three Arrested at Drone Base In Upstate New York
This afternoon, December 9, 2013, two Yale Divinity School students and a Catholic Worker were arrested as they attempted to deliver an Order of Protection on behalf of Afghan children and their families at the Hancock Air Base main entrance on East Molloy Rd. near Syracuse, NY.
Since October 25, 2012, over 50 citizens have been arrested – and issued Orders of Protection – for protesting the killing of children by Reaper drones piloted from Hancock Air Base.
The local DeWitt Town Court has issued these Orders at the request of the Hancock colonels. Such Orders suppress the First Amendment right of all those arrested to petition their government for redress of grievances at Hancock.
•Who is Alex Jones? Nolan Higdon takes him on.
***Thats my blog for today. I seem have caught the cold that is going around. My head us on fire, My heart is in South Africa, and my body is, shall we say, not at its strongest. Suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Mediachannel.org and Madibabook.com
•We all saw stories on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor during World War 2. There was another anniversary we were not told about.
•••For more on the book, visit Madibabook.com
*Tomorrow morning, I will be on the Marc Steiner Show on WEAA 89.9 FM, 9-11 in Baltimore and also on 702 Radio in South Africa at ll:15 AM their time.
•”Thanks so much for agreeing to talking with the Redi Tlabi Show about the biography you wrote on Madiba. We will call you at 4:00 AM (your time) for that wake up coffee and then call you from our studios at 4:15 for the actual on-air discussion. We will also have Anne Marie du Preez in studio with us who is author of respective biographies on Nelson Mandela and Winnie Mandela.”
•Interview–English With Chinese Translation on New Teng Dynasty TV.
•Paul Harris: Thanks again for joining me on America Weekend. I’m glad we were able to talk about “Sun City,” and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
FYI, our conversation is now posted as a podcast on my site, HarrisOnline.com. If you’d like to listen to it (or share it), here’s the link:
Host of “America Weekend” every Saturday & Sunday
Also on KTRS/St. Louis every Friday
Always on http://www.harrisonline.com
•LBN: South Africa’s Day of Prayer
South Africa held a “national day of prayer” on Sunday in memory of Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95. Addressing a congregation in Johannesburg that included members of Mandela’s family, President Jacob Zuma said Mandela “fought against those who oppressed others.” “He wanted everyone o be free,” Zuma said. Bishop Mosa Sono addressed thousands in Soweto, where Mandela lived before going in to prison, telling mourners “thank God for Madiba.” An image of Mandela’s face appeared on a giant screen and Mandela’s famous “I’m prepared to die” speech played to the congregation. A national memorial for Mandela will be held on Tuesday, and a state funeral will be held on December 15.
•News: NYT: In Soweto and Beyond, Mandela Still Serves as a Beacon of Hope
SOWETO, South Africa — The walls of the Regina Mundi Catholic Church here are riddled with bullet holes from the days when it was a center of the struggle against apartheid. But on Sunday, parishioners instead focused on the traces of Nelson Mandela.
Mr. Mandela’s image is etched in a stained-glass window at the back of the church. A page from a guest book with his signature hangs in the office. And older worshipers still recall his visits to the church, not far from his former home in the township.
“I thought of the old man, when he used to say, ‘We blacks will go and will fight for our freedom,’ ” Tom Nakene, 55, a lifelong member of the parish, said after a three-hour Mass on Sunday.
“I remembered him, and I prayed for him,” Mr. Nakene said, “wherever he is.”
South Africans across the country began a week of commemorations of Mr. Mandela’s life on Sunday with what officials called a day of prayer and reflection. People gathered in houses of worship, private homes and even open fields to pay homage to the man who embodied the struggle against apartheid.
As we all know, Nelson Mandela passed away. What’s less well known is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class that was built specially for him. And by “specially” I mean it was built largely by hand, on worker’s own time, with parts donated by Mercedes.PThe workers at Mercedes-Benz’ East London, South Africa plant wanted to this to commemorate Mandela’s release from prison in 1990. The workers were part of one of the first black labor unions in South Africa, and Mercedes-Benz, long known for their progressive attitudes in South Africa, was the first local automotive company to recognize a black labor organization at all.
•Former Archbishop Desmomd Tutu, Mail & Guardian: I can’t believe it – but, yes, it’s true. Madiba, who blessed us and the world so richly, is no more.
It seemed as if he had always been with us. Although he really only strode the world as a moral colossus after 1994, when he became president of South Africa, his stature had begun to grow while he was on Robben Island, when he became the most famous political prisoner of his time and inspired many to support the Free Mandela Campaign.
He was already being described in terms that made him seem larger than life. There were rumours that some in the ANC feared he would be found to have feet of clay, and so wanted him “eliminated” before the world was disillusioned. They need not have feared. Unbelievably, he exceeded popular expectations.
•ICH: Washingtonsblog: The Santa Clausification Of Nelson Mandela
U.S. Lionizes Mandela In Death … But Labeled Him a Terrorist While He Was Alive
The Central Intelligence Agency played an important role in the arrest in 1962 of Nelson Mandela.
•Lest We Forget: Nelson Mandela Condemns George W. Bush and War With Iraq
“If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care.” — Nelson Mandela.
•Aviva Shen and Judd Legum. Six Things Nelson Mandela Believed That Most People Won’t Talk About
Mandela embraced some of America’s biggest political enemies.
•View From Palestine on Popular Resistance Blog: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians” Nelson Mandela
In this week’s compilation from occupied Palestine: Today, a 14-year old child shot by Israeli sniper in the back in Jalazoun Refugee Camp. A Bethlehem young man was shot by the Israeli apartheid soldiers using live ammunition yesterday. Another lost his life after being in a coma for 7 months from an Israeli bullet. The Apartheid state of Israel exonerated itself from the murder of Mustafa Tamimi of Nebi Saleh so today we joined with the Nebi Saleh community to protest and also to commemorate Nelson Mandela (we carried his pictures). Our friend Ashraf from Bili’n was Mandela. We faced a barrage of rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades. Mustafa’s younger brother Udai Tamimi was shot in the face and in now in a Ramallah hospital with broken jaw….’
•LeMonde Via WorldCrunch: Thai Prime Minister Dissolves Parliament, Calls for New Election
Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra announced this morning the dissolution of the country’s parliament, a move that paves the way for new elections on Feb. 2, The Bangkok Post reports. Shinawatra will remain PM until a new cabinet is formed. Anti-government protests have resumed after last week’s truce for th king’s birthday. According to local media, an estimated 200,000 people were marching in the streets this morning.
•CLG: Record outdoor radiation level that can ‘kill in 20 minutes’ detected at Fukushima
Outdoor radiation levels have reached their highest at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, warns the operator company. Radiation found in an area near a steel pipe that connects reactor buildings could kill an exposed person in 20 minutes, local media reported. The plant’s operator and the utility responsible for the ‘clean-up,’ Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), detected record radiation levels on a duct which connects reactor buildings and the 120 meter tall ventilation pipe located outside on Friday. TEPCO measured radiation at eight locations around the pipe with the highest estimated at two locations – 25 Sieverts per hour and about 15 Sieverts per hour, the company said. This is the highest level ever detected outside the reactor buildings, according to local broadcaster NHK.
•David Lindorff, This Can’t Be Happening: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: BLS 7% Jobless Rate for November is Nothing to Cheer About
The White House, and most headline writers around the country, are crowing
that the November jobless rate of 7.0%, reported Friday by the Bureau of
Labor Statistics, is the lowest since 2009 when President Obama took
office, when it was 7.3% and rising.
But is this number really something worth cheering?
Not if you look behind it.
That 7.0% number is the BLS’s so-called U3 figure, which is the percentage
of the labor force currently unemployed, and it is significantly lower than
the figure for November 2012, which was 7.8%. But U3, known as the
“official unemployment rate,” doesn’t really count everyone who is
unemployed. It doesn’t include, for example, anyone who has even one hour a week of work, or who has not had a job for more than six months, or who in despair has given up looking.
A better number to look at, in terms of getting a true picture of the
health of society and the economy, is the BLS’s U6 number, which also
counts as unemployed those who are “marginally attached to the labor
force,” meaning discouraged people who are not working and have given up
looking for work, but who told BLS interviewers that they have looked
within the past year and would take a job if one were available. U6 also
counts as unemployed those who are currently working part-time for
“economic reasons,” meaning that they want full-time work but cannot find
The U6 measure of unemployment for November is 13.2%, and while that too is down from 14.4% in November 2012, it is historically very high.
Furthermore, as the analytical website ShadowStats
out, even U6 doesn’t tell the whole story.
The BLS U6 figure, As ShadowStats’ John Williams notes, doesn’t count long-term discouraged workers — people who have given up trying to find work because they cannot find a job. This group was “defined out of existence” by the BLS during the Clinton presidency in 1994. You can understand why that was done: adding these people to the total gives a current unemployment rate of a whopping 23% — a number that, unlike the U3 and even U6, has been continuing to *rise* since the start of the so-called Great Recession in late 2008, even through the last four years of “economic recovery”…
•Related News: Youth Unemployment Remains at 15.9% in November
•Monique Morrissey, EPI, via Portside: Retirement Benefits?
The sad reality is that the only households with any 401(k) savings to speak of are white non-Hispanic, college-educated, married couples. Even within this narrow demographic, all but the wealthiest who use retirement accounts as tax shelters, would be better off under a more egalitarian and efficient system.
The American Benefits Council, the American Council of Life Insurers, and the Investment Company Institute released a study this week entitled (no joke): Our Strong Retirement System: An American Success Story. College professors may want to bookmark this study for textbook examples of cherry-picked data, outdated findings, and hypothetical scenarios contradicted by real-world outcomes. To cite one example: the authors tout the fact that 401(k) participants with at least 30 years’ tenure with the same employer (an unrepresentative group to say the least) have significant savings in their accounts. The authors devote a later section of the report to the unsubstantiated claim that “the 401(k) is a good fit for America’s mobile workforce.
Mostly, though, the report simply ignores the biggest economic challenge of our time: inequality. As Natalie Sabadish and I note in our Retirement Inequality Chartbook, it doesn’t matter if the “average” household has $86,000 saved in retirement accounts if the median (50th percentile) household has only $2,500 while the 99th percentile household has $1.3 million. Simply put, Mitt Romney’s gargantuan IRA doesn’t make up for the fact that most families have virtually nothing saved for retirement, any more than Romney’s lavish Bain Capital compensation made up for the fact that most workers haven’t seen a real raise in years.
The report correctly points out that the aggregate value of assets earmarked for retirement has risen faster than inflation in recent decades. As we acknowledge in the chartbook, retirement assets as a share of disposable income rose with the advent of 401(k) plans, peaking with the dotcom bubble in 2000. Even after the bubble burst, the aging of the large Baby Boom generation helped buoy retirement assets in the turbulent decade that followed, since workers tend to build up savings and pension benefits as they approach retirement.
Though retirement assets took a hit in the 2008-2009 downturn, many Boomers had the good fortune to participate in traditional defined-benefit pensions at some point in their careers, unlike younger workers whose retirement prospects the report studiously ignores. Thus, when the report notes that “the share of retirees who receive retirement income from private-sector plans rose by almost half from 1975 to 2012, from 21% to 32% [and] the median benefit rose by about one-third,” the reader should keep in mind that this marks a high point and largely reflects the growth in defined-benefit pension benefits for older Boomers and their predecessors. In any case, private-sector savings and pension benefits needed to increase simply to offset Social Security cuts enacted in 1983.
•••Coming tomorrow in Washington D.C. to Mark International Human Rights Day
Peace, anti-hunger, anti-poverty, environmental and community groups will gather in the nation’s Capitol on Tuesday December 10 to observe International Human Rights Day by calling upon Congress to slash runaway, dangerous military spending and meet critical domestic needs instead.
The groups will hold a news conference and media availability at 10 AM. They will then deliver letters and petitions signed by more than one hundred organization and 7,000 individuals to Cong. Ryan and Sen. Murray, the Co-Chairs of the Congressional budget committee charged with passing a budget resolution by December 13. The Committee is seeking to reduce the nominal defense cuts presently required under the sequestration agreement.
The UN General Assembly proclaimed 10 December as Human Rights Day in 1950. In 2006 the UN focused on the issue of poverty, declaring the poverty prevails as the gravest human rights challenge in the world. The massive expenditures on the military is a significant factor in poverty and income inequality in America. Human rights also includes the right to be free from the threat of violence and war.
72 years after the nation was propelled into World War II by the attack on Pearl Harbor, the groups say it is time for the country to end its obsolete wartime budget – as it had done after every prior major conflict. The country’s failure to heed President Eisenhower’s warning about the growth in power of the Congressional Military Industrial complex has resulted in a massive military budget that bears no relation to the country’s legitimate defense needs.
Consuming more than half of all discretionary federal spending, the US military budget is roughly equal to the rest of the world combined. The groups charge that the military budget has become primarily corporate welfare and a tool to further the interests of multinational corporations. A hundred billion dollars is spent to maintain more than one thousand military bases in 130 countries, including Europe, Japan and Korea. Much of the Pentagon spending is wasted, with high levels of graft, overhead, outside consultants, and duplicative and unnecessary weapon systems. Rather than having an energy policy creating resource wars and climate chaos, the US should invest in renewable energy to create jobs, avert climate disaster, and make wars for oil obsolete.
Groups initiating the campaign include the Backbone Campaign; Coalition Against Nukes; Code Pink; Fellowship of Reconciliation, Freepress.org; Hunger Action Network of NYS; Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space; Green Shadow Cabinet; Green Party of NY; Hip Hop Congress; Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution; No FEAR Coalition; Organic Consumers Association; Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign; PopularResistance.org; Roots Action; and US Labor Against War.
•Thank You for being here….As you can see, I am very busy with media appearances, trying to promote my new book. I will be going on the air in a few minutes on South African radio. We will have details and info on these appearances on MadibaBook.com and on this Newsdissector.net blog. Your comments welcome. Your help appreciated even more. Write email@example.com. Visit Mediachannel.org as well.
•JUST RELEASED: From South Africa: Music video tribute to Nelson Mandela featuring Yvonne Chaka Chaka
•••For more on the book, visit Madibabook.com
•Sunday Morning: Join me and Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Guest Today at 8 AM EST at Keephopealiveradio.com
•Watch: My Q&A on RT on Mandela
• My Dissection on Al Jazeera’s Opinion Page: Remembering Mandela: On media, politics and death
Filmmaker Danny Schechter reflects on Nelson Mandela’s death.
For nearly six months, a media death watch surrounded Nelson Mandela like African vultures swooping over their next meal. Somehow the prospect and rituals of death were higher on the news agenda than the way his life has been lived and the techniques he used to survive so long, avoid bloody conflicts and reconcile warring interests.
How he achieved what he did seems to be less interesting than family controversies and speculation about his illness.
Media Tenor, a global monitoring firm, reported last July that coverage from global TV news broadcasts on Nelson Mandela had shrunk.
For the other global media still interested in Nelson Mandela, many turned away from the negative issue, namely his health being critical, and began to focus more on his legacy and family. The Mandela family received “dire media” coverage in South Africa, the UK, Canada and Australia during July and continued to be topical on South Africa’s TV news.
“Fortunately, the negative coverage affecting his family’s reputation has not affected Nelson Mandela’s own media image,” a representative from the firm said .
Now that he has died, the floodgates of admiration have opened with anchors and experts, friends and family members singing his praises, in a nonstop mediathon. Of course, in death, he, like other leaders who have constant global recognition, gets the full saviour treatment, the very type of reverence that he often rejected, as he tried and often failed to shift the praise-singing onto his comrades and the movements they led.
Yet a celebrity-obsessed media that so often focuses on the so-called “great men of history” has little patience with a more populist bottom-up interpretation of how change actually happens. It revolves around and patronises insiders and people of power, not community activists in shanty towns.
In some ways, Mandela himself sensed that the public wanted him to play that role, and he often did. He seemed to go back and forth, with protestations of humility and, at the same time, a finely refined sense of how he could influence the high and the mighty by calling them on the phone, or asking them for favours and donations.
He was a democrat in his soul but also a manipulator when he felt that was the only way to get what he felt the country needed. In the 1940s and 1950s, he was known for his dapper attire and smart suits. He was even briefly a ballroom dancer.
Later, he appropriated an Indonesian style to showcase his distinctive collection of Madiba shirts.
He mingled with many corporate bigs, often squeezing them for contributions to his charities. Although falsely denounced as a communist by the Afrikaner right, he actually enjoyed moving in royalty even though he was not of the royal tribal lineage that many thought he was.
His ANC comrade Walter Sisulu, who was jailed with him on Robben Island, groomed him because he “looked like” a prince. Later, some of his aides were embarrassed when he began calling Queen Elizabeth “Liz”. She apparently liked it.
Many in the elite were in awe of his larger-than-life presence and flattered him when he frawned on them while often dismissing his heartfelt appeals for economic justice and the end of poverty. He enjoyed the suites as well as the streets.
It’s not surprising that most of the obits that praise his political skills avoid talking about the serious compromises he made on economic issues by going along with market-based “solutions” that kept vast inequalities and poverty in place.
This is not to minimise his negotiating talent. I was very impressed by an analysis comparing Mandela’s emphasis on being inclusive with Egyptian President Morsi’s disregard for political realities that isolated him and led to his removal from power. Mandela blocked similar coup attempts in South Africa.
I was invited to South Africa as a documentary filmmaker to cover the making and the meaning of the epic “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”.
That’s when I began speaking to many of the people who knew Mandela best. What I found was personal admiration for him mixed with tortured regrets that more could have been done to curb poverty or prevent corruption.
Those conversations and research based on the many films I made there, led me to write a book, Madiba A to Z: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela at the request of the movie’s producer who knows well that no movie can tell the whole story.
I sought out what is not widely known and many of the lesser appreciated contradictions that are often more fascinating those that make the headlines.
In public, it’s hard to find anyone – black or white – who is aggressively hostile to Mandela. The whole country is enamoured with him and is in mourning over his passing, often in a celebratory fashion.
The growing crowds, outside his house. especially of young people, the so-called “born frees” born after Mandela’s election, led the mourning.
An article in the Mail & Guardian described the scene:
“Within an hour the crowd grew to several hundred people, and the songs equally grew in strength, and changed tone. The national anthem was replaced by struggle songs and chants, with the occasional “Viva Madiba!” thrown in. […] They wanted their children to have a lasting memory of the night that a giant of a man, a father of the nation, passed, one such couple said.”
The article carries a poignant title: “Tata Mandela, how do we say goodbye?”
And so it is, and so it will be. His stature will only grow beyond the statues that seem to be proliferating in his honour. He had tried to discourage that but no one listened to the leader on this issue. He was also commonly called “the old man”.
Mandela fathered the “New South Africa” and in a culture that still reveres its elders, he will not easily be forgotten. It will be a while before less emotional and more analytical assessments are made about what he was, and was not, able to accomplish.
As he said, “There is no easy walk to freedom.”
News Dissector Danny Schechter, an American activist turned journalist, who first visited South Africa in 1967, directed six documentaries on Mandela.
*Comments from my mail box
•Larry writes from Berkeley: ” Hope you’re getting some recognition/feeling some sense of worthiness about Mandela.
You and all you did were a big part of the picture for many, many people, myself most definitely
•Lotus writes from SF:
thinking of you and madiba….heard you with amy and juan this morning i remember you gave me south africa now for kmtp channel 32 in sf back in 1992 ls save me copies of all 6 docs plus madiba a to z for my son-in-law Thembile Rufus Mtwa, my grandson Ntsika Gin-Yuen Mtwa, and my granddaughter Khanya Gin-Ming Mtwa. i’ll send you their photos laterthey spent all of august in cape town with them bile’s relatives
*Sharon Waxman, the Wrap on Distributor Harvey Weinstein’s Response
There are lots of times when Harvey Weinstein can be accused of leveraging events to help his movies win Oscars. Nelson Mandela’s death isn’t one of them.
There are lots of times when Harvey Weinstein can be accused of leveraging events to help his movies win Oscars.
Nelson Mandela’s death isn’t one of them.
In a coincidence, Mandela – Madiba – happened to die at the very moment that the Weinstein Company’s biographical movie, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” was premiering in London on Thursday.
There were tears, strong emotions and mourning. Meanwhile, it is Oscar season, and “Mandela” has always been on the Weinstein’s Company slate to vie for Best Picture.
But the release strategy for the film is not changing. The movie, currently in four theaters, will be rolling out wider to 850 or so theaters on Christmas Day. In an exclusive and tearful interview with TheWrap, Harvey Weinstein said he has resisted suggestions to take the movie wider, sooner because of the news, and refuses to consider tying considerations about the fate of the movie with Mandela’s death.
“This issue is important to me personally,” he told TheWrap . “There are no opportunities. I’m just going to respect the will of the family through Zindzi Mandela.”
Weinstein was wounded by the comment in a New York Times article on Friday that he might have acquired the movie in February with an eye to Mandela being close to his demise.
In fact Weinstein had acquired the rights to make the biopic with producer Anant Singh in 1999, aiming for Denzel Washington or Morgan Freeman to star. When that didn’t happen, Singh persevered and produced the film independently with Idris Elba in the title role.
Still, Weinstein looked at footage a year ago, and kept it on his radar before acquiring the film, directed by Justin Chadwick, in February of this year.
Coincidences have happened often in the life of Harvey Weinstein – for instance, “Fruitvale Station” opening just as the Trayvon Martin verdict came down in – but this is surely one he cannot have planned. Indeed, he said Mandela’s daughter told him eight weeks ago that Mandela had taken a turn for the better.
His interest in the apartheid struggle in general and Mandela in particular is nothing new; he made “Sarafina” about the Soweto riots in 1992, and “Cry the Beloved Country” from the Alan Paton novel in 1995.
And he met Mandela in New York after the opposition leader-turned-president’s 1990 release from prison. Mandela came to New York, and met Weinstein, Robert de Niro, Oliver Stone, Eddie Murphy and two dozen others. He talked then about how movies helped sustain him while he was in isolation.
Weinstein spoke to TheWrap from London where it was 1 a.m.; he was tired, sad and frankly hurt.
“I have been so involved in politics of anti-apartheid,” he said. “I will reveal that my father was a soldier in World War II. His buddies told me my dad suffered greatly from anti-Semitism because he was down south in training before he went to active duty in Mediterranean. He had to defend himself.”
At the end of the conversation, Weinstein broke down in tears.
“It’s a movie,” he said. “I’d rather have him alive.”
*Jane Franklin: I think you might be interested in seeing the entries below, which were part of Mandela’s life. He was always personally grateful to Cuba.
•Gerardo Hernández fought in dozens of combat missions against South African troops in Angola. Cuban troops led to the victory at Cuito Cuanavale in 1988, sending South African troops home in body bags and forcing South Africa into serious negotiations. Yet the long article about Nelson Mandela in today’s New York Times does not mention Cuba. (The only mention of Cuba in the Newark Star-Ledger is to report that President Fidel Castro attended President Mandela’s inauguration in 1994.) Now, speaking from more than 15 years of prison in the United States, Gerardo and Ramón Labañino of the Cuban Five honor the South African leader who spent 27 years in prison as the United States supported the South African apartheid regime.
Here are =entries from Cuba and the United States: A Chronological History. I invite you to go to the book, available at my homepage, to follow Cuba’s campaign in Angola and how that led to freedom for Nelson Mandela.
March 23  South Africa makes a fifth major offensive against Cuito Cuanavale in Angola and is defeated for the fifth and decisive time, suffering heavy casualties. The battle for Cuito Cuanavale, which Cubans call the African Battle of Girón (Bay of Pigs), changes the course of negotiations.
June 28  Tens of thousands attend an anti-apartheid rally for ANC leader Nelson Mandela in Miami, but local officials retaliate for his praise of Cuba by refusing to give him the key to the city, leading to a Black-led tourism boycott of Dade County.
July 26  ANC leader Nelson Mandela gives a speech at Cuba’s annual celebration of the Moncada attack. He says the world should maintain economic sanctions against South Africa. President Bush removed most U.S. sanctions July 10. Again praising Cubans for the victory at Cuito Cuanavale in Angola in 1988, Mandela says that historic victory gave Angola the possibility of peace; enabled Namibia to achieve independence; destroyed the myth of the invincibility of South Africa’s apartheid regime; and created the conditions that led to his own release from prison.
•From Palestine: Israeli Apartheid gift to Mandela: Martyrs and injuries
•Jonathan Cook ICH: A Dissenting Opinion on Nelson Mandela
There will always be a reason to worship at the feet of those who have no real power but are there to distract us from what truly matters.
•••Too tired to to keep going. Comments welcome, help on getting my book out even more, Write: firstname.lastname@example.org, Visit Mediachannel.org and Madibabook.com
•••For more, visit Madibabook.com
Asleep At The Switch?
I looked at my watch and couldn’t believe it said 7:52 AM. I was supposed to be at the studio of Democracy Now at 7:45 and, on this day of all days, I overslept.
(I was up late writing a piece for AlJazeera’s opinion page, and more emotionally drained by his death than I realized. Here’s that commentary.)
It took me a few seconds before I bolted into action, dressing and racing out of my apartment into a cold and rainy New York morning. I didn’t want to run for fear I would be winded when I got there.
The good news is that their HQ is just two streets away, and, as it turned out, I made it with time to spare although it took the makeup person extra time to dry my still soaking suit jacket.
I remembered that it was always the kid who lived closest to school was often late.
Fortunately, the program hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez went off very smoothly with more guests and footage and perspectives than any of their media counterparts. I was pleased that they ran excepts from some of my films as well. Here’s a selection from the program.
From there, it was off to NDTV studio to do an interview that will be translated into Chinese as will be my book. There followed two cancelled NPR interviews, and no word back from Reverend Al Sharpton who promised Thursday night to have me on his MSNBC show as well. Rev?
WHen Mandela was alive, most media outlets were not interested in discussing his legacy, Now that he’s dead, all are–but usually with far more Establishment media and political figures.
The media coverage of bis passing is everywhere but few outlets explored why the United States Government was aligned for so long with apartheid South Africa and why the CIA claimed credit for his arrest.
(To discuss this all further) I am going to be joining an Africa Roundtable to discuss all of this on December 18th, 6:45 at Demos, 220 Fifth Avenue fifth floor.
You can find the Chris Hayes program on MSNBC Thursday night that I joined with Reverend Al Sharpton, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee. You may have to search for the show. I was also on RT as part of their coverage and will be joining Sahara Reporters tomorrow.
Last night NPR affiliate WBGO in Newark ran a Jon Kalish profile on the their journal.
Related News of Interest
•AP South Africa begins life without Nelson Mandela
JOHANNESBURG (AP) – What next for South Africa? This racially charged country that, on Nelson Mandela’s watch, inspired the world by embracing reconciliation in all-race elections in 1994 is again in the global spotlight after the loss of such a towering historical figure. It is a time not just for grief and gratitude, but also a clear-eyed assessment of national strengths and shortcomings…
Across South Africa, people are gathering to celebrate the life of the country’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, who has died aged 95.
•AP: Song, dance, tears for Mandela in South Africa
JOHANNESBURG (AP) – Themba Radebe spun slowly in a circle. First he pointed his cellphone camera at a group of children chanting Nelson Mandela’s name as they waved posters of the anti-apartheid champion. Then pivoting to his right, Radebe aimed his camera at a swaying group of adults who sang in Zulu while rocking and clapping.
Covering The Coverage
While there has been a lot of coverage, not all of it is very deep or comprehensive, as FAIRs Jim Naureckas pointed out on the FAIR Blog.
•Former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller wrote his paper’s obituary for Nelson Mandela (12/6/13). As you might have guessed, it glosses over the CIA’s role in helping the apartheid government catch Mandela (Extra!, 3-4/90): “Upon his capture he was charged with inciting a strike and leaving the country without a passport” is all the depth he goes into, although the Times (6/10/90) has in fact covered this little-known story in the past. You have to ask yourself: If the secret police of an ostensibly democratic society helped put someone viewed as one of the great heroes of the past century in prison, isn’t that something the public ought to know about?
Keller did go into more detail about Mandela’s armed efforts to overthrow the apartheid state, seemingly in an effort to belittle them:
Mr. Mandela’s exploits in the “armed struggle” have been somewhat mythologized. During his months as a cloak-and-dagger outlaw, the press christened him “the Black Pimpernel.” But while he trained for guerrilla fighting and sought weapons for Spear of the Nation, he saw no combat. The ANC’s armed activities were mostly confined to planting land mines, blowing up electrical stations and committing occasional acts of terrorism against civilians.”
Mandela, as it happens, went into great detail at his 1964 trial–where he was convicted of sabotage, not “acts of terrorism against civilians”–about the African National Congress’ decision to abandon its commitment to nonviolent resistance and turn to armed struggle, a phrase that does not actually require scare quotes. This decision was made, Mandela explained, in order to prevent the opposition to white-minority rule from devolving into random acts of terrorism:
Firstly, we believed that as a result of government policy, violence by the African people had become inevitable, and that unless responsible leadership was given to canalize and control the feelings of our people, there would be outbreaks of terrorism which would produce an intensity of bitterness and hostility between the various races of this country which is not produced even by war.
Secondly, we felt that without violence, there would be no way open to the African people to succeed in their struggle against the principle of white supremacy. All lawful modes of expressing opposition to this principle had been closed by legislation, and we were placed in a position in which we had either to accept a permanent state of inferiority, or to defy the government. We chose to defy the law.
Mandela went on to recount that the ANC first turned to sabotage as the form of opposition least likely to result in lost lives, and then, after the apartheid regime made sabotage punishable by the death penalty, decided to begin preparation for a turn toward guerrilla warfare.
Shortly after his return from leaving the country to get military training, Mandela was caught (with the help of the CIA)–too soon for him to have taken an active part in military activities. Aside from the part about the participation of the CIA, this was all laid out very clearly by Mandela at his trial 49 years ago. But including it in his obituary would have spoiled the chance to mock the pretensions of “the Black Pimpernel.”
•Bizaare? Newt Gingrich Chastises American Conservatives For Their Silence: What Would You Have Done? Nelson Mandela and American Conservatives
Yesterday I issued a heartfelt and personal statement about the passing of President Nelson Mandela. I said that his family and his country would be in my prayers and Callista’s prayers.
I was surprised by the hostility and vehemence of some of the people who reacted to me saying a kind word about a unique historic figure.
So let me say to those conservatives who don’t want to honor Nelson Mandela, what would you have done?
Mandela was faced with a vicious apartheid regime that eliminated all for blacks and gave them no hope for the future. This was a regime which used secret police, prisons and military force to crush all efforts at seeking freedom by blacks.
What would you have done faced with that crushing government?
What would you do here in America if you had that kind of oppression?
Some of the people who are most opposed to oppression from Washington attack Mandela when he was opposed to oppression in his own country.
After years of preaching non-violence, using the political system, making his case as a defendant in court, Mandela resorted to violence against a government that was ruthless and violent in its suppression of free speech.
As Americans we celebrate the farmers at Lexington and Concord who used force to oppose British tyranny. We praise George Washington for spending eight years in the field fighting the British Army’s dictatorial assault on our freedom.
Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Thomas Jefferson wrote and the Continental Congress adopted that “all men are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Doesn’t this apply to Nelson Mandela and his people?
Some conservatives say, ah, but he was a communist.
Actually Mandela was raised in a Methodist school, was a devout Christian, turned to communism in desperation only after South Africa was taken over by an extraordinarily racist government determined to eliminate all rights for blacks.
I would ask of his critics: where were the some of these conservatives as allies against tyranny? Where were the masses of conservatives opposing Apartheid? In a desperate struggle against an overpowering government, you accept the allies you have just as Washington was grateful for a French monarchy helping him defeat the British.
Finally, if you had been imprisoned for 27 years, 18 of them in a cell eight foot by seven foot, how do you think you would have emerged? Would you have been angry? Would you have been bitter?
Nelson Mandela emerged from 27 years in prison as an astonishingly wise, patient, and compassionate person.
He called for reconciliation among the races. He invited his prison guard to sit in the front row at his inauguration as President. In effect he said to the entire country, “If I can forgive the man who imprisoned me, surely you can forgive your neighbors.”
Far from behaving like a communist, President Mandela reassured businesses that they could invest in South Africa and grow in South Africa. He had learned that jobs come from job creators.
I was very privileged to be able to meet with President Mandela and present the Congressional Medal of Freedom. As much as any person in our lifetime he had earned our respect and our recognition.
Before you criticize him, ask yourself, what would you have done in his circumstances?
Here is my statement from yesterday on President Nelson Mandela:
‘President Nelson Mandela was one of the greatest leaders of our lifetime.
He emerged from 27 long years in prison with a wisdom, a compassion, and a commitment to help other people that was astonishing. His life was a triumph of the human spirit.
When he visited the Congress I was deeply impressed with the charisma and the calmness with which he could dominate a room. It was as if the rest of us grew smaller and he grew stronger and more dominant the longer the meeting continued.
His thoughtful disciplined but friendly and warm personality made him a leader who could define the right policies and the right behaviors.
Nelson Mandela was truly the father of an integrated, democratic South Africa.
He will be an inspiration for generations to come and an historic leader worth studying for as long as people want to learn about greatness in serving others.
Callista and I extend our condolences and our prayers to the Mandela family and to the people of South Africa.
•••Comments I received
•Nicci B writes from Johannesburg
“What an incredibly somber and sad day for all of us.
Peace and love.”
•From Martin Mhando, Director of the Zanzibar International Film Festival in Tanzania:
Pole is the Swahili word that has no proper translation in English.
It is used when someone has had a loss in the family. As I write to you, knowing you were so close to Madiba I deign say to you “Pole”. Literary it means “I am sorry for your loss”.
However it is can also be used for less painful moments like when one simply trips- Someone near them would say “pole” to mean “I can feel your pain”.
“Pole” can also be used to signify appreciation of someone’s loss – any kind of loss for which human compassion is expected or would come natural.
As we feel the pain of the world in the loss of Madiba the whole world should rather say pole to one another. This is a loss that each one of us has in some way or other felt, and for this I say a “Pole” to the whole world. Your loss, South Africa’s loss, Madiba’s family’s loss is the world’s loss.
(At a Swahili wake when one meets one who has come for the wake they say to them “Pole”- it signifies a sharing of the pain- acknowlegdement of the shared humanity in the loss of any human being. For, as John Donne said,” No one is an Island … Therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, It Tolls for thee”)
•Nancy Hunt, President of the We Are Family Foundation
Nelson Mandela was part of our “We Are Family” history…and two of his grandsons, Kweku and Ndaba are part of our current family as a Three Dot Dash Mentor and TEDxTeen speaker.
We put together this short tribute to the man who believed in the impossible and lived his life that way.
CLICK on this link and press play on the video:
•Frank Empspak: I heard your interview this morning. Insightful
*From Mostafa in Tehran: Do you think I could calk you tomarrow for an interviuw with you about Mandela?
•Kevin Keating, cinematographer responding to A New York Times story describing Nelson Mandela’s 1990 visit to New York that I covered in my film Mandela in America.
“Let’s have a drink together and ruminate. Except for the lower Broadway reference, every scene described we shot..Imagine a similar piece on the other cities..Remember Oakland and the send off, the mass exuberance, Ron Dellums, the People’s choir?…”
•Chuck Slatkin, postal worker: “Saw you on “Democracy Now.” A great appearance. Best of luck with the new book.”
•Vuyo Oyiya from Capetown, South Africa: “How are you? I heard the sad news today of Madiba’s passing and couldn’t stop thinking you must be really sad. I know you were close to him and hope you find comfort in knowing that he is pain free and finally find peace.”
•The kind of support I Need. Ellen Shub writes to the Boston Globe:
Hope this finds you well enjoying the land of books versus television.
I had been thinking I wanted to share some information on Danny Schecter’s new book “Madiba from A-Z: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela” 7 Stories Press
It was published to accompany the November 29th the release of the biographical movie based on a 1994 book Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
Given yesterday’s passing of Nelson Mandela and having heard Danny today interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now http://www.democracynow.org/2013/12/6/filmmaker_danny_schechter_the_anti_apartheid, I thought it opportune to try to do a virtual introduction.
While I had the opportunity to photograph Mandela once when he came to Boston after his release from prison in 1990, Danny as a filmmaker has made 6 non fiction films about Mandela whose struggle he has chronicled since the 1960′s. Danny has local roots as the WBCN News dissector and now heads up the media channel and globalvision in New York.
Hope this is a welcome useful and timely introduction.
•NY Event, You are cordially invited to join us for a special remembrance service of Baba Nelson Mandela in Harlem-NYC on SUNDAY, December 8th, 2013
Special performances: Thokoza and Tuelo Minah
Where: African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church -140-6 West 137th Street,
New York, NY 10030 – Between Lenox Avenue and Adam Clayton Powell
Time: 3 pm
•Mathabo Kunene writes from Durban, South Africa
We, the children of Nelson Mandela: The World Over Have lost a parent.
The passing of our beloved father Nelson Mandela symbolises the passing on of the “Relay Race Stick.”
It is now up to each one of us to decide how fast we want to run to finish the race without dropping the “‘Stick”
May the stronger ones take hold of the ‘Stick” and run faster. Time is of the essence: Our children need hope !!
From the ravages of Syria, to the valleys of the Congo and the still lingering poverty and inequality in Diepsloot We cannot afford to linger longer in the valley of sadness, self pity and confusion:
May his Legacy continue to replenish our energy and refresh our dreams where ever we are.
P.S. A SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO ALL THE SISTERS AND BROTHERS OF ALL COLORS WHO MARCHED WITH US IN THE STREETS OF LOS ANGELES, RENDERED BERKLEY CAMPUSES UNGOVERNABLE AND BUILT THE SHANTY TOWN IN THE CENTER OF THE UCLA CAMPUS SHACKLED YOURSELVES ON THE STEPS OF US CONGRESS IN THE CHILLY WASHINGTON DC WINTER !!
YOU MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR OUR FAMILY AND MANY OTHERS TO RETURN TO SOUTH AFRICA TO ENJOY TWO DECADES OF MANDELA MAGIC.
•Revolutionary Communist Party: “… the powers-that-be are not praising Mandela because of his role as an opponent of apartheid, but because he conciliated with the forces of the old order, and played a key role in dismantling apartheid in a way that didn’t excavate, but in the main reinforced the historic and horrific oppression of the black and other non-white people of South Africa.
Whatever Mandela’s intent, his outlook of “embrace the enemy” which is being so
extolled by the powers-that-be in their eulogies, went directly against the
need to uproot all the political, structural, economic, social and cultural
relations that formed the foundation for that system.
•Nelson Mandela: A Jewish Perspective by Rabbi Michael Lerner
Jews love and loved Nelson Mandela. He inspired us with his insistence that the old regime of apartheid would crumble more quickly and fully when faced with revolutionary love and compassion than when faced with anger and violence.
Mandela also challenged us to think deeply about whether the current situation in Israel/Palestine reflects the ethic of compassion that is so central to Judaism.
Some people on the Left reject Mandela’s strategy. “How can one be openhearted toward one’s oppressors?” they say. “Fostering compassion toward oppressors will undermine the revolutionary spirit needed to defeat the evil ones.”
Yet Mandela showed us the opposite—that one can generate more solidarity and more willingness to take risks in struggle when one can clearly present one’s own movement as morally superior to the actions of the oppressors. Mandela’s anti-apartheid movement claimed this moral superiority through being able to respond to the oppressors’ hatred with great love. When Che Guevara said, “A true revolutionary is motivated by great feelings of love,” he was alluding to this same truth. And this is what the Torah teaches when it instructs us to “love the stranger” (the “other”).”
•Professor Janet Murray writes from Georgia Tech in Atlanta:
“The coverage of Mandela’s death reminded me of the ?weekly? news programs Danny produced and Charlayne hosted during the South Africa news blackout 1987-90(??) with video shot by South Africans in country with cameras from the US producers.
I see a reference to over 150 reports of them under the title South Africa Now but I can’t find any trace of them online, and I wanted to tell my students about them. Do they exist in some archive (they should – perhaps the UGA Peabody archive would take them)? Also, Danny, do you remember what camera it was that made it possible to smuggle video in and out? Were you using the latest, smallest, most digital ones? It would be great to bring you guys together to talk about this…maybe a joint GT/UGA event…It was a precursor to the YouTube populist efforts in the Arab Spring, but done with a pro-active editorial effort.
•••I also spoke with my pal, musician Steven Van Zandt with whom I worked on the great Sun City anti-apartheid albums and video back in 185-86.
He too was mourning.
He met Mandela at an artists and filmmakers tribute at the Tribeca Grill in 1990. All these years later, he will be going back to South Africa in January with the Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band in January for concerts there. Bruce was part of Sun City.
He was pissed off ,as was I, by a statement released by Musician Paul Simon praising Mandela. Simon’s hit album of South Africa music was in violation of the cultural boycott supported by Nelson Mandela’s ANC. But, with no shame, he is now jumping on the bandwagon with a statement released by his pricey publicist.
•Press TV Debate: On Calls to “Nuke Iran:” Hunter’s anti-Iran remarks demagoguery: Analyst
Press TV has conducted an interview with Danny Schechter, editor of mediachannel.org from New York, to talk about the calls made by a US congressman to consider the use of nuclear weapons against Iran…
•••That’s your News dissector.net for today. Comments to dissector@mediachannel,org.Visit Mediachannel.org and Madibabook.com
•Today: I will be on Democracy Now at 8 AM with Amy Goodman
With a minute to go….
With a minute to go–4:59 PM== before my weekly radio show aired on PRN.fm, I received an email telling me Nelson Mandela had departed.
I immediately went online for verification, given all the rumors we have been exposed to, but the newssites I visited were way behind the reality. No one that I visited had it. The only story I found was in Google News and it was this earlier report in the Telegraph of London:
•”Nelson Mandela’s family and friends were gathering at his house last night, just days after his eldest daughter said the revered former South African statesman was “on his deathbed”.
Two of Mr Mandela’s granddaughters and Bantu Holomisa, a close family friend, were among those seen entering the house in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, along with military personnel responsible for the former president’s health.
With little explanation for the large contingent, there were rumours that the 95-year-old’s ailing health had once again taken a turn for the worse.
One family friend said he had been told Mr Mandela’s condition had “deteriorated quite a bit”, but could not give further details. “Things are quite gloomy,” he added.
Mac Maharaj, President Jacob Zuma’s spokesman, said he was seeking an update from Mr Mandela’s doctors “because of the rumours journalists are coming up with”.
The development came as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the London premiere of the Mandela biopic Long Walk to Freedom, in which South Africa’s first black, democratic president is played by British actor Idris Elba.
Mr Mandela’s daughter Zindzi, who also attended the screening at the Odeon in Leicester Square, told journalists her father was “fine” but “frail”.
“My father is fine. He’s 95 years old and he is pretty frail. We are hoping to see more of him,” she said.
She revealed that Mr Mandela has seen some clips of the film, which is adapted from his autobiography of the same name and stars Elba as the former South African president.
Earlier this week, Mr Mandela’s eldest daughter Makaziwe described him as fighting from his “deathbed,” but still being “very strong” and “very courageous”.
“Even when there are moments when you can see he’s struggling, but the fighting spirit is still there with him,” she told the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
Mr Mandela has been receiving round-the-clock intensive care from 22 military and other doctors since September, when he was discharged from a three-month hospital stay for a lung infection.”
Within minute, the sad news hit like a thunderbolt. It was true. He had died, I remembered my dad at age 90 1/2 fighting a respiratory condition complication by lung cancer. He was doing fine, until he wasn’t.
Back in my world, we were going talk about the death of Detroit, but that could wait. Instead, I shifted mode and started talking about the Mandela or Madiba I was privileged to report on and connect with.
John Nichols, a NATION editor joined me, and he shared his experiences with South Africa, It was at times a disjoined conversation because being in public this way didn’t literally give me a second to grieve or for a personal reflection.
And then, by phone, text and email, media invites started pouring on. As readers of this blog know I have been promoting my new book on Mandela that I wrote after interviewing many of those closest to him in South Africa. I had been trying to generate media attention but mostly I wa getting nowhere until he died and began to be plastered all over the media.
The firs call was from Russia Today–attesting to Mandela’s global stature. Then The Chris Hayes Show on MSNBC called. I then went through a traffic nightmare—rush hour in the Christmas season. I will spare you the details but it involved a big no-no in New York, going across down, from West to East. I found an African cab driver, who upon hearing the missing, revved up his vehicle, but then we hurried up to wait as traffic slowed to a creep crawl. We just made it.
I joined Al Sharpton and Congresswoman Barbara Lee on the Hayes show which I am sure was more political and interesting than the celebrity interviews on other channels.
Tribute in South Africa
•Anyway, I am more interested in the response in South Africa where the loss is more deeply felt and the hole wider and harder to fill.
*A young South Africab woman named Mpho shared this with me:
It’s all over , it is sad but also a relief that Madiba has finally departed, and sounds a bit ominous that we were just talking about him yesterday and now he is gone. It’s sad to loose such a great father of the nation but a relief as well as the quality of his life_being on life support machines_was really deplorable. Many had written his obituary and killed him before his soul left the body, but in the end God has his own timing….
I hope there will arise a leader worthy of leading this nation….
It’s sad, but it’s finished, all things considered,he ran a good race…..
•Here’s a statement by COSATU, the South African TRade Union Federation: Celebrating the Life and Work of Nelson Mandela
The Congress of South African Trade Unions joins all South Africans, and millions more all over the world, in mourning the sad loss today, 5 December 2013, of the greatest ever South African and most inspirational leader in our struggle for liberty and democracy, our beloved Comrade, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
Comrade Madiba inspired all those fighting for freedom in South Africa and around the world. He suffered long and brutal incarceration, but never became embittered and revengeful. He was elected as our first democratically elected President, but remained a humble and modest servant of his people, who never put his personal interests before his commitment to the struggle.
He never compromised his democratic principles or thought of anything but how to win the ultimate victory of the struggle he lived for, and was prepared to die for – for a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and free South Africa.
Although Comrade Madiba would have insisted that full credit be given to the other giants of the struggle – Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Chief Albert Luthuli, Joe Slovo, Chris Hani and many others – he was unique, the South African who, more than any other, became the embodiment of the struggle against racist dictatorship, apartheid brutality and the exploitation of workers and the poor.
He was honoured with over 250 awards, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Soviet Order of Lenin. But for South African workers, the one which we shall always remember is the inaugural Elijah Barayi Award for outstanding leadership and service, presented on COSATU’s 15th birthday in 2000.
There was absolutely no doubt about who should be the first recipient – Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. The citation to that award declared: “You have been a constant inspiration to us from the days of the Congress of the People, through the armed struggle, the dark days in prison and exile, the mass uprisings of the eighties, to the period of negotiations, and finally the days of liberation and reconstruction.
“You have always first and foremost been the leader of the people’s movement. Whether you were the young lion fighting to radicalise the ANC, the leader of the defiance campaign, the `black pimpernel’ avoiding the clutches of the security police, the MK commander-in-chief seeking weapons and funding in Africa, and unifier and leader on Robben Island, or the negotiator, a statesman and first President of a democratic South Africa, you never lost sight of your role as the leader and servant of the liberation movement.
“You have taught us all this lesson, through your commitment, your dedication, your humility, your selflessness, your loyalty and your discipline: that to be a true leader is to be a servant of your people. For this we salute you.”
The citation concluded with the words of a popular liberation song once sung by MK troops in Angola “We shall always love you, we shall need you, for the things you’ve done for us”.
•Here are some of the comments I received:
•M: I know you worked closely with that truly great man. My condolences.
I was very moved as we observed the passing of Mandela’s giant spirit. You were lucky to have been part of that story from before, way before, most people knew the narrative.
His life work stands alongside Gandhi’s, suggesting en entirely new path we may hope our species adopts.
With love and good wishes,
•E: Saw you Tonite on Chris Hayes: on Chris Hayes.
you were terrific.
•M: Great seeing you on MSNBC tonight!
It’s good to see your work gets it due and have someone talk the straight history.
•K: How ironic I was talking about you to my journalism students today:) Didn’t know you were coming out with another book–looking forward to the summer…
So unbelievable to know he disappeared so quickly from our midst–one of the many great memories I have is working with you on the Globalization production in the 90′s–where have the years gone? We have come a long way since those dark days of apartheid…thank you for continuing to help keep our ‘press’ honest & free…& may the world always remember the barriers broken by Nelson Mandela.
You are looking good!
Great to see you!
*Pia Raug from Copenhagen:
In the midst of the worst storm over northern Europe – in Denmark it has now lasted through the day and will not cease for another 7-8 hours, they say. There has been a constant news coverage now for 14 hours. The storm has reached hurricane levels more times during the day – and just now the news flow has been stopped by the message of Mandala’s death. Am watching J. Zumas speech.
There is a saying: When a human being is born the angels weep, because they will have to do without him for so long.
The wind around my house here in the middle of the ocean is HOWLING! All bridges have been closed all day – all trains in DK have been stopped – air ports closed down – all ferries.
The entire world is in mourning! Let’s hope human grief will not be violent as the storm.
•Kevin Powell: had never heard of Nelson Mandela, of South Africa, of apartheid, until I was an 18-year-old college freshman at Rutgers University in the mid-1980s. At that time I had no interest in politics, in community, and “democracy” was a very strange and elusive word to me, something we had been taught in American schools, but which felt like it belonged to the people in our textbooks, forever frozen in history. But there was something happening at Rutgers, and on campuses everywhere, called “the anti-apartheid movement,” which was bringing together students of different races and cultures, in a way our country had not seen, I read and was told, since the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Except this time the struggle for freedom was in a foreign land, a magical but terribly oppressive and violent place called South Africa, where the white minority had been ruling the black, “colored” and Indian majorities for many decades. And there was a leader, locked away with others in prison cells, in locales with names like Robben Island, for daring to oppose the white power structure of South Africa. I was both transformed and liberated as I learned about this man Mandela, as I joined the student protest and building takeover at my school directly challenging Rutgers’ ties to corporations invested in the apartheid regime. I absorbed everything I could on Mandela, his speeches, his life story, the facts and mythologies. I was changed forever. Gone was the desire for a career merely to make money, replaced by a determination to live a life of service to others.
Mandela’s influence on me lapsed between the time of my school’s protests and my early 20-something life. But it was re-ignited when I watched the global broadcast when he was released, after 27 long years, on Feb. 11, 1990, and walked hand-in-hand with his then-wife Winnie Mandela from Victor Verster Prison. Iconic and transformational leaders like Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy were long gone. In Mandela we had a living and breathing example not simply of struggles for freedom and democracy, but also of someone who was willing and able to be a bridge-builder for humanity, like Gandhi, like Jesus Christ.
But let’s also be clear: While Mandela is today widely viewed as a man of peace, he did advocate for self-defense and armed resistance against the brutal apartheid regime when he was first sent to jail in the early 1960s, and again in his first speech after walking away from that prison. Mandela was clear, just as America’s founding fathers were, that freedom was not free.
Regardless, what captured my imagination and what will be one of Mandela’s enduring gifts to humanity was his bottomless capacity to forgive his white oppressors and his openness to working with them for a new South Africa. Nothing in my lifetime prepared me for this post-prison Mandela. Nothing. The absence of bitterness from Mandela’s words and demeanor were extraordinary to me, given that he lost 27 years of his life to prison.
In my still very young American and African-American mind of the 1990s this was the true revolution for humankind, to see each other as sisters and brothers, to be able to have honest conversations about the past, by way of South Africa’s truth and reconciliation commission, so that there could be healing, yes, and an opportunity to move forward as one people.
This Mandela impacted my work greatly, and I went from being someone focused mostly on race issues to an activist and speaker who began, however difficultly, to embrace the lives and challenges of people everywhere no matter their race, gender, class, religion, ability or sexual orientation. In Mandela I saw a living and breathing example of what was possible, as a human being, as a man, as a leader, if only we could dig deeper into the reservoir of our spirits and find the capacity to love each other, to know each other, to get along with each other.
•Scott Schneider: Don’t romanticize him. His post-apartheid sellout and bungling severely diminish his legacy:
•F from Paris: :condolences my friend.
I am proud to say I shook the hand that shook the hand.”
•From Paul Simon’s PR Firm: “Mandela was one of the great leaders and teachers of the twentieth century. He conceived a model for mortal enemies to overcome their hatred and find a way through compassion to rebuild a nation based on truth, justice and the power of forgiveness. His passing should reignite a worldwide effort for peace.”
•Paul Simon on Nelson Mandela’s passing, December 5, 2013
•Idris Elba, Mandela Long Walk To Freedom: “What an honor it was to step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela and portray a man who defied odds, broke down barriers, and championed human rights before the eyes of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with his family,” said Elba, who later issued a second statement. “I am stunned at this very moment, in mourning with the rest of the world and Madiba’s family. We have lost one of the greatest human beings to have walked this earth, I only feel honored to be associated with him. He is in a better place now.”
•J: Rest in peace. Hope your doc does him justice.
•Norman: Thank you for giving me a greater awareness of who this great man really was!
•ADC: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) joins South Africa and the entire world in mourning the loss of Nelson “Madiba” Mandela today. Mandela passed away at his home at the age of 95. Through non-violent organizing and negotiations, Mandela was able to defeat the Apartheid regime that had been oppressing black South Africans since 1948. While Mandela was endearingly referred to as “the father of the nation” by South Africans, we at ADC would like to honor and celebrate his legacy left on the last decade, as the global father in the fight for civil rights and democracy.
•David Swanson: Nelson Mandela’s story, if told as a novel, would not be deemed possible in real life.
Worse, we don’t tell such stories in many of our novels.
A violent young rebel is imprisoned for decades but turns that imprisonment into the training he needs. He turns to negotiation, diplomacy, reconciliation. He negotiates free elections, and then wins them. He forestalls any counter-revolution by including former enemies in his victory. He becomes a symbol of the possibility for the sort of radical, lasting change of which violence has proved incapable. He credits the widespread movement in his country and around the world that changed cultures for the better while he was locked away. But millions of people look to the example of his personal interactions and decisions as having prevented a blood bath.
•Interview on Press TV on Snowden’s Latest Disclosures:
/strong> An interview with Press TV, Danny Schechter, editor of mediachannel.org from New York, shares his insights on the newly-leaked documents by Edward Snowden revealing that NSA tracks hundreds of millions of cell phone locations worldwide.
Below is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Mr. Schechter, we have heard the NSA speaking about its program. Do you think it has any defends or there can be any defends or explanation for the use of knowing the locations of mobile phones around the world? How this is going to help the NSA maintain security for the United States?
Schechter: First of all, I think everybody is shocked by this and once again we have Edward Snowden to thank for releasing this information and making it available to the media, in Washington Post was leaked this information and they published it because they checked it out and turned out to be true.
The NSA has done a tremendous amount to annoy people all over the world and inflame anti-American feeling. So if the goal is security, it is actually promoting insecurity if not open hostility to the United States as all these revelations come in one after the other.
There was a report today that something like 35 million or billion dollars worth of American technology is being compromised because people do not want to buy products from companies that are cooperating with the NSA, companies like Microsoft or Google are saying that they are coming up with better encryption to protect their own customers from our government.
So you have a battle there between the corporations and the government who feel like they are being forced, bullied and coerced and then there is the press conflict which we have seen in England where the editor of the Guardian, Mr. Rusbridger, was testifying before parliament and he told us that over a hundred times the government tried to interfere with the Guardian newspaper to get information from them about information that Guardian was publishing. They see this as interference in freedom of the press.
So democratic liberties, democratic institutions are being compromised in the name of security. It is almost absurd. You have to be… even a screen writer could not come up with this. This is something that George Orwell saw brilliantly years ago and writing about these issues.
And so we have the United States government becoming more and more paranoid and the rest of the world looking on and saying this is crazy and ridiculous including American allies like Germany who are criticizing the United States. So does this make any sense? Absolutely not.
Press TV: We are also hearing Mr. Schechter that this is just part, maybe you could say, a small part of the documents that Snowden has revealed so far. The question is how more revealing could it get? What could the other documents be about?
Schechter: First of all, the Guardian has said they have only published one percent of the information that they have about secret surveillance and the surveillance state. So obviously there is a lot more.
I think the government is becoming more and more nervous about all of this. Some government institutions are calling for more privacy protections for citizens. There is a conflict going on within the government, between the government and the companies and certainly the public.
So this has just opened up a battleground about freedom and responsibility which is not going to be shut down any time soon and what I am afraid of and I think there are reasons to fear this is that the government has become more desperate to protect its sources, protect its secrecy is likely they resort to violence and I would not rule that out and that is why so many people in these papers are using high security protection to try to avoid letting their cell phone records or their information, their computer information be available to the government.
In other words, the people instead of looking to the government to protect their rights are looking to the government as the number one violator of their rights. Crazy!
•••I am drained emotionally. I have been writing Mandela linked essays for the past weeks, so forgive me for not adding to the inundation of the obits that are everywhere. Welcome your input and comments to email@example.com Visit the site for my book on Mandela: Madibabook.com. You are always welcome at
•••Today–5-6 PM on News Dissector Radio on PRN.fm: John Nichols, the Nation editor who speaks about the Detroit Bankruptcy as a bankruptcy of democracy joins us from Madison Wisconsin. Join us. Related: Objectors Want To He Heard in Ct
*Today via Portside: Fast Food Workers Strike in 100 Cities
Fast-food workers in New York City are expected to walk off their jobs Thursday, one year after their first strike, joining a 100-city strike wave. Organizers say actions will take place all across the country as part of the movement for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation.
In New York City, there are more than 57,000 fast-food workers, and the median wage is $8.89/hour, the lowest of any occupation in the city.
•••We Celebrate As My New Book Launches: “Madiba AtoZ:The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela” Has been published in the U.S. And South Africa. See Madibabook.com
•Here are Norman Savitt’s photos from our launch party on Monday at Thoughtworks. More at the book site: Madibabook.com
••••More on on what’s in the new book: WHAT MORE IS THERE TO LEARN ABOUT NELSON MANDELA?
By Danny Schechter
New York, New York: Nelson Mandela is back in the news—happily, not just because of his medical condition, but thanks to the release of the new epic movie, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom starring Idris Elba and Naomi Harris. On Christmas day, it opens nationwide in the US on 2000 screens with a majority of reviews very positive. It is already showing in France and England will be next in January.
At the same time, no one movie can hope to tell the full story of a life that has spanned 95 years. Hollywood-style storytelling inevitably telescopes history, compresses characters, and seek to entertain more than inform
Some of the critics make this point, A few find it too rushed, others too long, or dwell on missing context, and insufficient history, as does Simon Abrams on RogerEbert.com: ”The prison guard insists that Nelson and his wife should not talk about politics, and “Long Walk to Freedom’s creators honor that request. Instead, they talk about how they feel about politics. So the raised tone of Winnie’s voice is more important than the content of her words.”
Critical debates aside, many can agree with the LA Times’ conclusion: “This may be a familiar story, but it is one worth experiencing again and again. “ And, that’s also why the AP reviewer noted, “This is the perfect time for youngsters (or their elders) who don’t know enough about the man to go learn about him.”
And that’s also precisely why the film’s producers asked me to draw on many of the interviews I did for a companion documentary series on the making and meaning of Long Walk to Freedom in a book that seeks to tell some of the rest of the story, “Madiba A to Z” (Seven Stories Press) that is out in the US, and in South Africa.
To supplement Mandela’s own autobiography and the many biographies about them, I look at what insiders know but many in the adoring public do not. Quite a few who do know him well are loving but privately critical (and self-critical), most deeply aware of the limits of the changes in South Africa almost twenty years after the end of apartheid and the coming of democracy.
I spoke to many key players and insiders, including two former presidents, DeKlerk and Mbeki and Deputy President Motlanthe, his prison comrades and fellow ANC activists including Archbishop Tutu, as well as thoughtful writers like Nadine Gordimer and Njabullo Ndebele.
Here are some highlights from an investigation that features intimate stories on 26 aspects of Mandela’s life and times.
•The key finding is how many of the “stalwarts” of the struggle including Mandela himself are privately disappointed with the “progress” that’s been made and have “regrets” with the ANC’s many failures in a way we haven’t seen before.
•Thabo Mbeki told me that the problems of South Africa have not changed very much from 1994 because of the greed of the white business community and its failure to invest in job creation.
•Madiba A-Z reveals that there were top-secret economic negotiations alongside the televised political talks that allowed the World Bank and global business leaders, especially powerful Americans to limit what South Africa could do to regulate business and fight poverty. This is what led to the neo-liberal policies South Africa was pressured to adopt in the name of pro-market policies.
Promised jobs and investments by an adoring world, little was forthcoming. Poverty in South Africa today is as bad as it was when Mandela was elected in 1994.
• The armed struggle fought by the ANC’s guerilla army Umkhonto we Size was also aided by the Vietnamese army after the defeat of the U.S. led war in that country. The Cuban defeat of South African military forces in Angola helped spur negotiations.
•While Mandela deserves credit for engineering a peaceful political settlement, it was external pressure including economic and cultural sanctions demanded by a global anti-apartheid movement that brought decisive leverage on political leaders to negotiate. His law partner, Oliver Tambo’s role as ANC leader was probably more decisive in orchestrating pressure when Mandela was behind bars.
•While Mandela was hailed by a cheering world for his iconic role, he was often personally miserable because of the break-up of his marriage and the bitter internal battling inside the ANC. He survived long years in prison by “going inside,” and often had to do the same as President.
These are just a few of the disclosures as I dealt with the “many faces” of a leader so many think they know, but often only one dimensionally, as I explored Mandela as a villager, bully, boxer, prisoner, lover and womanizer, peacemaker and legend.
Throughout his political struggles, he rejected the idea that he was a “savior” and always embraced collective leadership even as the media lionized him and treated him as a “brand” or celebrity.
The media and even the movie avoid deeper political debates and minimize the role of a bottom up movement for the decisions of a top-down leader. News reports of pervasive corruption today rarely reference how corrupt the Afrikaner regime had been.
To appreciate the enormity of what he and South Africa achieved in resolving conflicts can best be seen when compared to other conflicts in the word that ended more violently or not at all. Recall what else was going on in this period — genocides in Rwanda and the Balkans, or today the unresolved fighting in Syria and Egypt.
How he helped guide a peaceful outcome in a racially divided society is a story that even now is treated superficially, when at all.
What emerges is a portrait of a man, and a troubled nation as well as the texture of a struggle that, despite many gains, is still fighting for true freedom. After his release from prison, Mandela was told, “Well now you’re free.” And he said: “No, we’re freed to be free.”
More news about the book and its author, including a selection, can be found at Madibabook.com
Topping the News
In the News thanks to Edward Snowden:
•Natasha Lennard: Salon,According to the latest leak to go public from Edward Snowden’s NSA document trove, the spy agency hoarded a vast database of cellphone location data, collecting nearly 5 billion records every day on the whereabouts of cellphones all around the world in perhaps the largest mass surveillance program to yet come to light.
As the Washington Post reported, based on documents obtained by Snowden, the NSA has amassed a database enabled as a mass surveillance tool that also includes data belonging to Americans (contrary to initial misleading comments from the Obama administration that U.S. citizens were not surveilled):
The records feed a vast database that stores information about the locations of at least hundreds of millions of devices, according to the officials and the documents, which were provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. New projects created to analyze that data have provided the intelligence community with what amounts to a mass surveillance tool.
The NSA does not target Americans’ location data by design, but the agency acquires a substantial amount of information on the whereabouts of domestic cellphones “incidentally,” a legal term that connotes a foreseeable but not deliberate result.
Of particular interest in the WaPo article, a detail that will no doubt trouble the privacy-concerned among us about the specific NSA targeting of cellphone users who try to remain untraceable through the use of disposable handsets…
AP: WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Security Agency tracks the locations of nearly 5 billion cellphones every day overseas, including those belonging to Americans abroad, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The NSA inadvertently gathers the location records of “tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad” annually, along with the billions of other records it collects by tapping into worldwide mobile network cables, the newspaper said in a report on its website.
Such data means the NSA can track the movements of almost any cellphone around the world, and map the relationships of the cellphone user. The Post said a powerful analytic computer program called CO-TRAVELER crunches the data of billions of unsuspecting people, building patterns of relationships between them by where their phones go.
As the NSA doesn’t know which part of the data it might need, the agency keeps up to 27 terabytes, or more than double the text content of the Library of Congress’ print collection, the Post said. A 2012 internal NSA document said the volumes of data from the location program were “outpacing our ability to ingest, process and store” it, the newspaper said.
The program is detailed in documents given to the newspaper by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden. The Post also quotes unidentified NSA officials, saying they spoke with the permission of their agency.
Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, declined to comment on the report.
The DNI’s general counsel, Robert Litt, has said the NSA does not intentionally gather bulk location data on U.S. cellphones inside the U.S. — but NSA Director Keith Alexander testified before Congress that his agency ran tests in 2010 and 2011 on “samples” of U.S. cell-site data to see if it was technically possible to plug such data into NSA analysis systems. Alexander said the information was never used for intelligence purposes and that the testing was reported to congressional intelligence committees. He said it was determined to be of little “operational value,” so the NSA did not ask for permission to gather such data.
Sen. Ron Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and two other lawmakers have introduced an amendment to the 2014 defense spending bill that would require intelligence agencies to say whether the NSA “or any other element of the intelligence community has ever collected the cell-site location information of a large number of United States persons with no known connection to suspicious activity, or made plans to collect such information.”
Alexander and other NSA officials have explained that when U.S. data is gathered “incidentally” overseas, it is “minimized,” meaning that when an NSA analysts realize they are dealing with a U.S. phone number, they limit what can be done with it and how long that data can be kept.
Rights activists say those measures fall short of protecting U.S. privacy.
“The scale of foreign surveillance has become so vast, the amount of information about Americans ‘incidentally’ captured may itself be approaching mass surveillance levels,’” said Elizabeth Goitein of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program.
“The government should be targeting its surveillance at those suspected of wrongdoing, not assembling massive associational databases that by their very nature record the movements of a huge number of innocent people,” said Catherine Crump, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.
YOU ESS AY
•The Week: Australia Just Scrapped its Debt Ceiling–Why Not America?
•Chicago Trib: Hezbollah says commander killed in Beirut, blames Israel
*qz: Sick Iranians are struggling to get life-saving meds. US legislators plan to make it even harder
•How About “His Government?: Joseph Biden to the Chinese: Stand Up to Your Government
•••That’s Newsdissector.net for today. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit Madibabook.com and Mediachannel.org
•Protest Last Night against Deposed General David Petraeus & the NY Historical Society/HotelPierre NYC
•••My new book is now out here and in South Africa. Visit our book website: Madibabook.com
•M&G: Latest on Mandela’s Condition
Former president Nelson Mandela’s family say he is “very strong” even though “you can see he is struggling”.
Former president Nelson Mandela’s family resorted to an unusual choice of words to describe his condition in an interview with SABC television news on Tuesday.
His daughter Makaziwe Mandela speaking off the cuff, told the broadcaster: “Tata is still with us. Very strong, as I said very courageous, even in [sic] … lack of a better word, on his death bed, I think he is still teaching us lessons. Lessons in patience, lessons in love, lessons in tolerance.
“Every moment, every minute with Tata amazes me … There are times when I have to pinch myself that I come from this man who is so strong, who is a fighter. Even when there are moments when you can see he is struggling but the fighting spirit is still there with him,” she said.
•••Can’t Forget the Motor City
I worked there in 1966 as an Ford Foundation funded assistant to the late Mayor Jerome P. Cavanagh. I came to love the town, and still have friends there. The recent news Was shocking:
•NYT: Detroit Ruling on Bankruptcy Lifts Pension Protections
DETROIT — In a ruling that could reverberate far beyond Detroit, a federal judge held on Tuesday that this battered city could formally enter bankruptcy and asserted that Detroit’s obligation to pay pensions in full was not untouchable.
The judge, Steven W. Rhodes, dealt a major blow to the widely held belief that state laws preserve public pensions, and his ruling is likely to resonate in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and many other American cities where the rising cost of pensions has been crowding out spending for public schools, police departments and other services.
The judge made it clear that public employee pensions were not protected in a federal Chapter 9 bankruptcy, even though the Michigan Constitution expressly protects them. “Pension benefits are a contractual right and are not entitled to any heightened protection in a municipal bankruptcy,” he said.
James E. Spiotto, a lawyer with the firm Chapman & Cutler in Chicago who specializes in municipal bankruptcy and was not involved in the case, said: “No bankruptcy court had ruled that before. It will be instructive.”
For people in Detroit, the birthplace of the Motown sound and of the American auto industry, Judge Rhodes’s decision that the city qualified for bankruptcy amounted to one more miserable, if expected, assessment of its woeful circumstances. The city has lost hundreds of thousands of residents, the judge said, only a third of its ambulances function, and its Police Department closes less than 9 percent of cases.
“This once proud and prosperous city can’t pay its debts,” said the judge, who sits in United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. “It’s insolvent. It’s eligible for bankruptcy. But it also has an opportunity for a fresh start.”
•News360: Key Points of Detroit Ruling
•••John Nichols of The Nation, a proud MidWesterner, gets into the impact and implications of the rape of this American City: Detroit Bankruptcy Bankrupts Democracy
The city is being steered into a wrenching process of restructuring that—by all appearances—will be based on flawed math, flawed priorities and an exceptionally flawed understanding of how democracy is supposed to work.
Detroit elected a new mayor November 5 and he will take office in less than a month. But the future of this great American city and its citizens isn’t being defined by decisions made by voters on Election Day. It is being defined in federal bankruptcy court—and by an “emergency manager” who has no democratic legitimacy.
With a ruling Tuesday by US Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, Detroit officially becomes the largest US city ever to enter Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Despite a determination that negotiations with creditors outside of bankruptcy court had not satisfied good-faith requirements, the judge cleared the way for the emergency manager and his law firm to advance a “plan of adjustment” that could include deep cuts in pension guarantees for retired city employees and a “fire sale” of city assets that could might result in public utilities and the Detroit Institute of Arts collection being bartered off to private bidders.
What Judge Rhodes has done is not the end of the bankruptcy process. It is merely the beginning. But the process has been framed in a manner that runs the risk of undermining the city’s long-term recovery by taking money away from the most vulnerable residents of Detroit. As Jordan Marks, executive director of the National Public Pension Coalition notes, “In the bankruptcy, the modest pensions of Detroit’s firefighters, police officers, and other city employees could be all but wiped out, even as Wall Street banks continue to extract hundreds millions of dollars from the city’s economy. This is a dark day for people of Detroit who worked hard, played by the rules, and are now at risk of losing everything.”
There is no question that Detroit, like many American cities, faces fiscal challenges. But instead of assuring that those challenges are met in the most humane and functional manner, the city is being steered into a wrenching process of restructuring that—by all appearances—will be based on flawed math, flawed priorities and an exceptionally flawed understanding of how democracy is supposed to work.
In a groundbreaking new study of Detroit’s finances, the think tank Demos explains that claims regarding Detroit’s debts have been dramatically inflated to make a case that the city must go bankrupt. According to Demos, proponents of the bankruptcy move have manipulated the numbers by combining statewide and city debts. “Detroit’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, asserts that the city is bankrupt because it has $18 billion in long-term debt. However, that figure is irrelevant to analysis of Detroit’s insolvency and bankruptcy filing, highly inflated and, in large part, simply inaccurate,” argues the Demos analysis, which was prepared former investment banker Wallace C. Turbeville. “In reality, the city needs to address its cash flow shortfall, which the emergency manager pegs at only $198 million, although that number too may be inflated because it is based on extraordinarily aggressive assumptions of the contributions the city needs to make to its pension funds .”
By relying on claims that the Demos study identifies as being based on those “extraordinarily aggressive assumptions”—and by accepting premises advanced by the same financial institutions that urged Detroit officials to make unwise financial choices—the judge has shaped a bankruptcy process that errs on the side of helping Wall Street rather than the citizens of Detroit.
And he empowers an emergency manager who is acting on “simply inaccurate” premises, rather than the officials Detroit voters just chose to guide their city toward fiscal and social stability.
The judge’s decision gives the essential authority to guide the city’s affairs to Orr, an “emergency manager” appointed by Republican Governor Rick Snyder, who in 2010 lost the city of Detroit by a 20-1 margin. Though barely 5 percent of Detroit voters thought Snyder should be calling any of the shots regarding their state and city, he is now—via his emergency manager, with the approval of the bankruptcy judge he asked to intervene—calling the shots.
And what of the new mayor, Mike Duggan, a veteran county official and highly regarded manager who won 55 percent of the vote in last month’s election?
“The only authority I’m going to have is the authority I can convince the governor and emergency manager to assign me,” Duggan, a Democrat, told reporters in November. “I’m attempting to persuade them. We’ll see.”
Duggan says he’s “going to do everything I can to advocate on behalf of Detroit’s future in this process. We need to make sure the retirees are treated fairly on the pensions they earned.” But, despite the fact that he will be the city’s mayor, he does not have the final say even on questions of whether the city will keep commitments to retired firefighters and police officers.
This is not what democracy looks like.
This is not the will of the people of Detroit.
We know that because the emergency manager power that Snyder has used to steer the city into bankruptcy, and that the governor will now use to guide the city’s affairs, was rejected by the city’s voters in 2012.
Snyder had to develop the new emergency manager law after a previous version of the legislation—which he had used to take over smaller cities—was overturned by Michigan voters in a statewide referendum. In Detroit, 82 percent of voters said they did not want the emergency manager law. But they got it anyway. So it is that, while Mayor Duggan may be assigned some responsibilities, he will not have the clearly defined authority that an elected mayor should have to protect pensions, preserve labor agreements and set priorities when it comes to the delivery of basic services.
This is a vital distinction to recognize as media outlets report on the judge’s decision and the bankruptcy process.
As retiring Detroit City Council member JoAnn Watson reminds us: The city of Detroit did not file for municipal bankruptcy.
“The emergency manager (EM) filed the bankruptcy petition, and he is an appointee of the governor of the state of Michigan based on Act 436—a law formerly known as PA 4—which was repealed by 2.3 million Michigan citizens statewide on Nov. 6, 2012,” explains Watson. “The EM is only accountable to the governor, the EM only answers to the governor, and the EM can only be ‘checked and balanced’ by the governor.”
The new mayor and the new city council will not have the essential democratic authority to “check and balance” the emergency manager—or to guide the process that Watson argues “has clearly been crafted in a right-wing playbook to seize assets, dismember electorate voting powers, dismantle unions and the families/neighborhoods supported by union jobs, disable local elected officials, smear and tarnish the image and viability of Black elected leadership, and broadly claim that the legacy costs related to retiree pensions are largely to blame for the city’s debt crisis.”
Watson’s frustration is real. And appropriate.
Detroit’s greatest challenge has not been municipal governance. It has been deindustrialization, which has shuttered hundreds of factories and left hundreds of thousands of city residents unemployed or underemployed. And that great challenge extends beyond Detroit.Too many American cities face financial challenges similar to those that have destabilized Detroit. Snyder’s anti-democratic “answer” could well become the model for a response to those challenges that begins by blaming the victims and ultimately denies them a full and effective franchise.
“I believe Detroit and Michigan are ‘test cases’ for certain right-wing agents who want to do all they can to control future elections for this nation’s highest office and other posts,” says Watson. “Voter suppression, including the Supreme Court’s role in gutting the Voting Rights Act of 1965, are not incidental to the myriad of malevolence in Michigan.”
There is a lot more at stake in Detroit, and in Michigan, than one city’s balance sheet.
Our understanding of democracy, itself, is being subverted.
The voters of Michigan sent a clear signal last fall. They rejected emergency-manager authoritarianism.
Unfortunately, a federal bankruptcy judge has sided with a governor who could not win an election in Detroit and an approach that Detroit voters rejected.
This has nothing to do with budgeting, debt or broader fiscal matters. Those issues could, and should, be addressed by an elected mayor and city council.
This has everything to do with allowing unelectable and unelected officials—and the interests they serve—to achieve political results that could not be secured at the ballot box.
•Juan Cole, Informed Consent: Top 10 Ways the US Is the Most Corrupt Country in the World
Those ratings that castigate Afghanistan and some other poor countries as hopelessly “corrupt” always imply that the United States is not corrupt.
While it is true that you don’t typically have to bribe your postman to deliver the mail in the US, in many key ways America’s political and financial practices make it in absolute terms far more corrupt than the usual global South suspects. After all, the US economy is worth over $16 trillion a year, so in our corruption a lot more money changes hands.
1. Instead of having short, publicly-funded political campaigns with limited and/or free advertising (as a number of Western European countries do), the US has long political campaigns in which candidates are dunned big bucks for advertising. They are therefore forced to spend much of their time fundraising, which is to say, seeking bribes. All American politicians are basically on the take, though many are honorable people. They are forced into it by the system. House Majority leader John Boehner has actually just handed out cash on the floor of the House from the tobacco industry to other representatives.
When French President Nicolas Sarkozy was defeated in 2012, soon thereafter French police actually went into his private residence searching for an alleged $50,000 in illicit campaign contributions from the L’Oreale heiress. I thought to myself, seriously? $50,000 in a presidential campaign? Our presidential campaigns cost a billion dollars each! $50,000 is a rounding error, not a basis for police action. Why, George W. Bush took millions from arms manufacturers and then ginned up a war for them, and the police haven’t been anywhere near his house.
American politicians don’t represent “the people.” With a few honorable exceptions, they represent the the 1%. American democracy is being corrupted out of existence.
2. That politicians can be bribed to reduce regulation of industries like banking (what is called “regulatory capture”) means that they will be so bribed. Billions were spent and 3,000 lobbyists employed by bankers to remove cumbersome rules in the zeroes. Thus, political corruption enabled financial corruption (in some cases legalizing it!) Without regulations and government auditing, the finance sector went wild and engaged in corrupt practices that caused the 2008 crash. Too bad the poor Afghans can’t just legislate their corruption out of existence by regularizing it, the way Wall street did.
3. That the chief villains of the 2008 meltdown (from which 90% of Americans have not recovered) have not been prosecuted is itself a form of corruption.
4. The US military budget is bloated and enormous, bigger than the military budgets of the next twelve major states. What isn’t usually realized is that perhaps half of it is spent on outsourced services, not on the military. It is corporate welfare on a cosmic scale. I’ve seen with my own eyes how officers in the military get out and then form companies to sell things to their former colleagues still on the inside.
5. The US has a vast gulag of 2.2 million prisoners in jail and penitentiary. There is an increasing tendency for prisons to be privatized, and this tendency is corrupting the system. It is wrong for people to profit from putting and keeping human beings behind bars. This troubling trend is made all the more troubling by the move to give extra-long sentences for minor crimes, to deny parole and to imprison people for life for e,g, three small thefts.
6. The rich are well placed to bribe our politicians to reduce taxes on the rich. This and other government policies has produced a situation where 400 American billionaires are worth $2 trillion, as much as the bottom 150 million Americans. That kind of wealth inequality hasn’t been seen in the US since the age of the robber barons in the nineteenth century. Both eras are marked by extreme corruption.
7. The National Security Agency’s domestic spying is a form of corruption in itself, and lends itself to corruption. With some 4 million government employees and private contractors engaged in this surveillance, it is highly unlikely that various forms of insider trading and other corrupt practices are not being committed. If you knew who Warren Buffett and George Soros were calling every day, that alone could make you a killing. The American political class wouldn’t be defending this indefensible invasion of citizens’ privacy so vigorously if someone somewhere weren’t making money on it.
8. As for insider trading, it turns out Congress undid much of the law it hastily passed forbidding members, rather belatedly, to engage in insider trading (buying and selling stock based on their privileged knowledge of future government policy). That this practice only became an issue recently is another sign of how corrupt the system is.
9. Asset forfeiture in the ‘drug war’ is corrupting police departments and the judiciary.
10. Money and corruption have seeped so far into our media system that people can with a straight face assert that scientists aren’t sure human carbon emissions are causing global warming. Fox Cable News is among the more corrupt institutions in American society, purveying outright lies for the benefit of the billionaire class. The US is so corrupt that it is resisting the obvious urgency to slash carbon production. Even our relatively progressive president talks about exploiting all sources of energy, as though hydrocarbons were just as valuable as green energy and as though hydrocarbons weren’t poisoning the earth.
Even Qatar, its economy based on natural gas, freely admits the challenge of human-induced climate change. American politicians like Jim Inhofe are openly ridiculed when they travel to Europe for their know-nothingism on climate.
So don’t tell the Philippines or the other victims of American corruption how corrupt they are for taking a few petty bribes. Americans are not seen as corrupt because we only deal in the big denominations. Steal $2 trillion and you aren’t corrupt, you’re respectable.
•CLG: GOP Gov. Seeks Repeal of mid-1800s Child Labor Laws, Wanted 12-Year-Olds to Toil –[Maine Governor's desire harkens back to the days of Charles Dickens and the 'Hungry Forties' in Victorian England]
Paul LePage’s goal of making it easier for minors to work will continue in January when the Department of Labor proposes streamlining the work permit process despite previous failed attempts to do so. Child labor in Maine has been regulated by state government since the mid-1800s and a key component of those regulations requires school superintendents to issue work permits for school-age children offered a job. Now the Department of Labor has proposed being the first contact for work permits during the summer months. The initiative falls short of LePage’s stated desire to lower the legal working age to 12, but reprises previous unsuccessful attempts to make it easier for Mainers younger than 16 to earn a p*ycheck.
•The Oscar Short List For Documentariies
•Wrap: Newsweek Plans to Resume Weekly Print Edition
•Global Information Network: Vast Mineral Stockpile Fuels Murderous Wars in Central Africa
Dec. 3 (GIN) – Diamonds scraped from the earth in Africa are reaping record-setting profits for the gem cutters and auction houses in northern Europe. A single rosy-pink diamond last month sold for $83 million to a prosperous buyer in New York.
In the Central African Republic, diamonds, gold, uranium and other minerals primed the pump for war over profits since independence from France was declared in 1960. Since the last president, Francois Bozize, was ousted in a coup earlier this year, the country has seen the worst excesses in fighting. More than 400,000 citizens have fled their homes, many have died. Reports from relief agencies say it is the eleventh hour before genocide.
“The ‘Seleka’ rebel fighters who overthrew the government of the Central African Republic earlier this year are “out of control”, warned Amnesty International.
Godfrey Byaruhanga, an Amnesty researcher, said: “Seleka forces have attacked civilians across the country, executing and torturing civilians, indiscriminately shelling communities, raping women and forcefully conscripting children”.
He added: “The level of hopelessness and despair has reached a new high as a result of these human rights violations, which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
LBN: For the first time in nearly 40 years, a majority of Americans believe the United States is less important around the world and that it should mind its own business, a stunning rejection of President Obama’s foreign policy just four years after he received the Nobel Prize.
A new Pew Research Center poll found that 53 percent of people believe that the U.S. is playing a less important role as a world leader than a decade ago, the highest figure since 1984.
Worse: 70 percent said that the U.S. is respected less than in the past, almost matching the high reached under former President George W. Bush, whose foreign policy Obama pledged to reverse.
Other key highlights from Pew’s release:
— By a 56 percent to 34 percent margin, more disapprove than approve of Obama’s handling of foreign policy. The public also disapproves of his handling of Syria, Iran, China and Afghanistan by wide margins.
— For the first time, 52 percent believe the U.S. should “mind its own business internationally.”
— Some 51 percent said the U.S. does too much in helping solve world problems.
— Most say the U.S. should engage internationally on economic issues. Fully 77 percent say that growing trade and business ties between the U.S. and other countries is good.
— Just 31 percent of the public say the war in Afghanistan has made the country safer from terrorism.
•Thats all from your news dissector today. Feedback to email@example.com. Check out the updated Mediachannel.org and Madibabook.com
•••We Celebrate As My New Book Launches: “Madiba AtoZ: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela” Has been published in the U.S. And South Africa. See Madibabook.com
Because of my own involvement in documenting the Mandela movie for a still unreleased documentary series–and the publication of my book to–I am devoting coverage in this blog to the coverage its getting and isn’t getting.
Last night, we had a fabulous book launch in the offices of Thoughtworks, a progressive software company. Tsidii Le Loka of Lion King fame sang, and we screened excerpts from my 1990 film MANDELA IN AMERICA. It was packed and I sold and autographed all the books I had along with with Anne Rumberger, publicity manager of Seven Stories Press.
I was pleased that some former members of our South Africa Now series were on hand, including Mweli Mzizi, in from South Africal as well as the South African Consul General,E.S. Reddy. former head of the UN Centre Against Apartheid,
everyone’s favorite, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, whose brother David wrote a great book on Mandela and South Africa many years ago.
I have been continuing to write about Nelson Mandela and the new movie Mandela Long Walk to Freedom. Just learned there will be a benefit premiere in Boston on December 16 with none other than Mandela’s closest prison mate, Ahmed “Kathy” Kathrada, one of the souls and stalwarts of the struggle there.
•For Some Fine Essays on Mandela, check out the essays in the new edition of the Rhodes University School of Journalism journal. It is one of the world’s great journalism reviews.
•My latest Dissection: CAN A MOVIE ABOUT NELSON MANDELA DO WELL IN AMERICA?
New York, New York: At the end of the day, its not the importance of the subject that will make the difference in the success or failure of the new cinematic bio-pic about Nelson Mandela. It’s the answer to these questions: is it a good movie? Does it “work” in Hollywood terms? Will people go see it?
The producers of Mandela Long Walk to Freedom have lined up lots of endorsements from “big names” and political leaders. There was a White House screening, an event at the Kennedy Center in DC with Hilary Clinton, Colin Powell and even John McCain. Bono and U2 contributed a song, and had their pictures taken at star-studded premiere.
What the movie-makers really need are small names and no-names to pack the theaters, to, in Hollywoodese, get “butts in seats.” Will the movie-going audience respond? After all, Mandela is still alive, unlike Gandhi or Lincoln, who are among ‘the great and the good’ th athave been depicted on the big screen.
I have a small horse in this race, as they say, because the producers commissioned me to write a book, Madiba A-Z, The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela touching on the making and the meaning of his ‘Long Walk’ and the rest of the story. I was fortunate to get unusual access to many of in his inner circle and have written less a tribute but an assessment, sometimes critical of his role and achievements.
The hope is that they movie-goers who see it will want to know more. If they don’t, the book, now out in the US and South Africa, might not find an audience. If the theaters are empty, the book is unlikely to sell.
The producers and director worked hard to shape a popular narrative—structuring the story around the painful love story between Nelson Mandela and first wife Winnie in a fast–paced emotionally grabbing story attractive to audiences.
Director Justin Chadwick has made many movies, and clearly, knows what he is doing. While the shooting was underway, I sat down with him to hear his hopes and fears.
I asked: “In making and putting all this sweat and effort and time into it, what are you hoping? Because you know, especially in England, there’s a term that’s used a lot, ‘worthy, kind of a put down term! Oh it’s so worthy! Some say, ‘everyone knows this story.’”
Critics often slam movies just for having a point of view, but, then, also for having none.
Chadwick reflected and responded: “I’m very aware of that… it doesn’t feel too reverential or too worthy …we like stories don’t we? We like to hear stories. We’d like to be entertained. And we’d like to gather together in the dark and listen to a story, watch a story. And I am very aware that the worthiness of it, the dryness of it. That’s why I can’t stand period movies. I can’t stand flipping biopics. They very rarely excite you. You know you go to the cinema, you pay good money to go to the cinema and you want to ride. You want to kind of learn something, but not have it preachy. You want to be entertained. You want to have thoughts that are provoked. You want to come out of the cinema and be talking about it. You want to see something passionate.”
Justin is nothing but passionate about the movie, and the audiences I saw it with came out excited and exhilarated.
The film’s Oscar-winning screenwriter Bill Nicholson wrote Gladiator and other successful films. He says the movie is a “drama, not a documentary” so it leaves out lots of detail, focuses in on dramatic turning points, the interior landscape of key characters, and goes for a highly visual fast-paced style.
Its British stars, Idris Elna and Naomie Harris, as Nelson and Winnie, do a gripping and potentially award-winning acting job. But: they are not matinee idols—yet!– in an industry that goes for names, names, names.
They are also black and foreign in a business not always kind to “strangers.” (Its competitor in the Oscar race, “12 Years a Slave” is about victimization, not liberation. It has been called “brutal but brilliant” by critics. Yet, joining its African star, Chiwetel Ejiofor, are Michael Fassbender, and as the white man who saves him, Brad Pitt. )
Another challenge facing the Mandela movie is that its subject is now an old man who people may admire but is not someone young people, a key movie-going demo here necessarily identify with. Those that do may think they already know the story because of all the media attention he has received.
I asked South African producer Anant Singh who has spent 16 years bringing this movie to a global audience about that.
“You know, I think everybody thinks they know something about Mandela, and probably that’s reasonably accurate, he told me. “But what they know is such a peripheral knowledge. Madiba’s life, his youth growing up in the village, being groomed to become the leader of that clan, the Madiba clan, and that was the foundation of what made him the leader that he became. So that whole childhood, nobody knows anything about.
“…What we’ve tried to do is give the world a very introspective look at his Long Walk to Freedom, But equally to put it on a canvas that’s fitting for this epic journey. He is a myth in many ways. And I think we’re bringing the myth to reality.”
I responded with some industry-style cynicism: “There are people who say, this all happened a long time ago, who cares?”
He believes the world has cared, does care and will care, telling me, “you’ll always get skeptics about anything you do. And of course they’re entitled to it, if they don’t care, don’t buy a ticket, don’t go to the movie. I want to tell this story, I think it’s a story worth telling. I think the world knows nothing about it. And obviously the proof is in the pudding …at the end of the day, I will do the best I can, and I believe it will be a fitting tribute to him and his legacy.”
Backing up Singh’s confidence is the high regard that Mandela is held by people the world over. Every medical bulletin about him gets page one play. He has been called a global brand in the league of Coca Cola. He finishes at the top of everyone’s most admired lists.
In a world that cries out for inspiration, who better than a Mandela to provide it? How many prisoners became presidents? How many have his moral stature? At a time, when so many leaders disillusion their followers, he has strengthened his own support from an admiring world.
Now we have an opportunity to see how he became the icon he is. And, hopefully, also take the next step in discovering the details of his heroic past.”
News Dissector Danny Schechter directed six documentaries about Mandela including a forthcoming series on the making and meaning of the movie. His latest book is “Madiba AtoZ: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela “(Seven Stories Press).
Sone News of Note
l. Train was going too fast–cause of crash in NY
NYT: The Metro-North Railroad train that hurtled off the rails on a sleepy holiday weekend morning was traveling 82 miles per hour as it approached one of the sharpest curves in the region’s rail system, federal investigators said on Monday — nearly three times the speed permitted through the turn.
2. Americans for Financial Reform: Support For Pay Fairness
Six weeks ago, the Securities and Exchange Commission came out with a proposed rule to implement the Dodd-Frank Act requirement that public companies disclose the ratio of their CEO’s pay to their median employee’s pay.
Corporate leaders and lobbyists have mounted a furious campaign of protest, spearheaded by such groups as the Financial Services Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. But popular support for the proposal has been overwhelming. During an initial consultation period, the SEC received more than 20,000 letters, overwhelmingly in favor of the pay-ratio requirement. Since the Commission issued its proposed rule in September, more than 116,000 individuals and organizations, including Americans for Financial Reform, have submitted letters urging the SEC to stand firm.
3.Iran, Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, ICH: A Narcissistic US, an Anxious Saudi Arabia and a Hysterical Israel
The Iran nuclear deal has brought out the ‘borderline’ personality disorder of Saudi Arabia and Israel.
4. BBC: Fear and brutality stalk CAR after rebel takeover
The BBC’s Andrew Harding travels through the Central African Republic and finds large sections of the population traumatised by a rebel takeover.
5.Supreme Court won’t stop NY’s Internet taxation
WASHINGTON (AP) – On perhaps the busiest online shopping day of the year, the Supreme Court refused to wade into a dispute over state sales taxes for purchases on websites like Amazon.com, an outcome likely to prompt more states to attempt to collect taxes on Internet sales. Monday’s court action means “it might be the last Cyber Monday without sales tax,” said Joseph Henchman
•James Kwak of Baseline Scenario on the woes of Healthcare.gov
Yesterday the Obama administration announced that healthcare.gov “will work smoothly for the vast majority of users.” Presumably they intended this as some sort of victory announcement after their self-imposed deadline of December 1 to fix the many problems uncovered when the site went live two months ago. But anyone who knows anything about software knows that it’s not enough to “work smoothly” for the “vast majority” of users.
Apparently pages are now loading incorrectly less than 1 percent of the time. Well, how much less? Pages failing 1 percent of the time make for a terrible web experience, especially for a web site where you have to travel through a long sequence of pages. There is evident fear that the current site will not be able to handle any type of significant load, like it will get around the deadline to sign up for policies beginning on January 1. And we know that “the back office systems, the accounting systems, [and] the payment systems”—in other words, the hard stuff—are still a work in progress.
None of this should come as any surprise—except to the politicians, bureaucrats, and campaign officials who run healthcare.gov. The single biggest mistake in the software business is thinking that if you throw resources at a problem and work really, really hard and put lots of pressure on people, you can complete a project by some arbitrary date (like December 1). It’s not like staying up all night to write a paper in college. This isn’t just a mistake made by people like the president of the United States. It’s made routinely by people in the software business, whether CEOs of software companies who made their way up through the sales ranks, or CIOs of big companies who made their way up as middle managers. You can’t double the number of people and cut the time in half. And just saying something is really, really important won’t make it go any faster or better.
Clearly all sorts of things were wrong before October 1 (and not just because they were relying on Oracle to do something other than supply a database). According to the Times, the website “had barely been tested before it went live,” which is a sure recipe for disaster. Back in my day, every feature was supposed to be finished three months before release. I know web companies do things differently today, but when it comes to performance they already know they can handle the load, and I doubt they cut corners when it comes to software that handles financial transactions. If you don’t have time to test, you shouldn’t ship. It’s that simple. Anything else is just wishful thinking.
It seems like healthcare.gov had at least two huge problems at launch. The first was performance—the ability of the system to deliver pages quickly when under load. I don’t have any insider information, but from the outside it sounds like a lot of what they are doing is switching hardware around, increasing the bandwidth at certain key chokepoints, and firing their hosting company. That’s all good, but performance is only secondarily a hardware issue. The software has to be designed properly to be scalable—so that adding twice the hardware will allow it to support twice as many users. If not, you need to scrap it and start from scratch. I can’t tell from the outside (and I couldn’t even tell from the inside) if it’s designed properly in this case, but I sure hope so, because otherwise no amount of hardware shuffling will do the trick.
The other problem was data integrity. When you’re dealing with financial transactions, it’s really, really important that the data don’t get messed up between the two counterparties. But it seems like, at a minimum, customer records weren’t making it through to the insurers. It sounds like fixing that mess has been deferred until later. It could be as simple a problem as bad data mapping between one data model and another. But fixing these problems involves another software quality issue. With high-quality code, it’s relatively easy to find and fix these errors. With bad code, it’s hard to find bugs and it’s harder to fix them without destabilizing the rest of the system. Again, let’s hope for the former.
I’m not technically skilled enough to be the type of person you would want making decisions about this mess, and I don’t know anything more than you can read in the newspaper. But when custom software projects go this badly, I think that in general (meaning more than half the time) you are better off cutting your losses and starting over. Obviously there are administrative and political reasons why the Obama administration can’t do that. We know that this project has to succeed like few other projects in history, and it will get there one way or another. But there’s no magic bullet, and neither hope nor trying harder is a viable strategy.
US singer and songwriter Bob Dylan has been placed under judicial investigation in France for allegedly provoking ethnic hatred of Croats.
•Free Download of Great Magazine: The December issue of ColdType is now on line at http://coldtype.net
ONE COUNTRY, TWO HISTORIES: John Pilger takes a penetrating look at the harsh differences between the cash-strapped North of England and the richer London and South; Alexander Zaitchik visits a US gun fair and finds a stack of bomb-making advice; Sam Pizzigati wonders why the rich and powerful are so callous; Tony Sutton takes a 10-hour bus trip; Trevor Grundy travels to South Korea to gain some new insights into the conflict in the Middle East; David Cromwell is critical of fossil-fuel corporation attempts to foil action on climate control; while Fred Reed takes a contrary look at Veterans’ Day from a new angle. We’ve also got three book excerpts on counterinsurgency, Nelson Mandela, and the fate of wounded soldiers when they return home from war. Plus much more
PLUS – Our second offering, INAPPROPRIATE CONDUCT – is a 52-Page excerpt from a new book by Don North that tells the strange tale of the brave exploits of a wartime journalist and the editors who thought he was lying
*Thats our Newsdissector.net blog for today. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. An updated edition of Mediachannel.org is now on line, and Madibabook.com has also been updated.
•••The Big News of The Day: The Obamacare Website has been fixed–or so they claim. I hope so, but none of this mess would have been needed if we had Medicare for all!
•Guess what, as I intimated yesterday? “Black Friday” was, despite the hype, a bust. NYT: Over the course of the weekend, consumers spent about $1.7 billion less on holiday shopping than they did the year before, according to the National Retail Federation, a retail trade organization.
“There are some economic challenges that many Americans still face,” said Matthew Shay, the chief executive of the retail federation. “So in general terms, many are intending to be a little bit more conservative with their budgets.”
Translation: Many people do NOT have money to spend. The economy has NOT and will not recover.
•••My New Book Launches Today: “Madiba AtoZ: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela” Has been published in the U.S. And South Africa. See Madibabook.com
Because of my own involvement in documenting the Mandela movie for a still unreleased documentary series–and the publication of my book to be officially launched tonight–I am devoting coverage in this blog to the coverage its getting and isn’t getting.
It doesn’t seem as if many of my kith and kin in our blogostan find it very interesting, as if it is all old news, not of interest to Obama boosters or bashers.
How often does a major movie about a social movement and its leaders get the full Hollywood treatment, especially when it comes from what we used to call the Third World? Culture often leads politics or in this case is about politics. It certainly is worth seeing and discussing.
Here are stories on how Mandela’s daughter sees it, my profile of one of its South African stars who plays Nelson Mandela’s ANC comrade Walter Sisulu, and a snatch of a critic’s criticism since I ran positive reviews yesterday.
You will read further down about how the Pope’s Economic statement was ignored, but thats nothing compared to how Africa, in this case a film from and about an African leader is treated all the time.
NYT: Rick Lyman On the Mandela Film: The Polilitcs of Making it
Those who lived through those years in South Africa, or even through just part of them, must inevitably watch the film while comparing its depiction with their own memories. For Zindzi Mandela, this is a highly personal and emotionally draining challenge that she is still wrestling with.
On a much smaller scale, I had been based in South Africa as a foreign correspondent for four years in the early ’90s, arriving three weeks after Mr. Mandela was released from prison and leaving the day after he was inaugurated president, pretty much the entire transition period to multiracial democracy. I saw Mr. Mandela many times over those years, at political events and social occasions, and interviewed him a few times. The genial grandfather with the halting speech pattern and the puckish sense of humor that he presented in public concealed, as we all knew, a spine of steel and an almost supernatural stubbornness that forced the world to come to him.
No film can be expected to capture the nuance and multiple dimensions of a man as politically canny and historically towering as Nelson Mandela, of course. To try to distill Lincoln onto the screen, Mr. Spielberg focused on a single episode in his life, allowing the president’s subtle gamesmanship and disarming folksiness the space to reveal itself. The filmmakers here had to capture a man who, unlike Lincoln, is still around and whose family and friends and allies know vividly.
The task therefore was to cram a life, especially one as event-filled and consequential as Mr. Mandela’s, into a single film without turning it into a toothless exercise in hagiography. The solution Mr. Chadwick and his screenwriter, William Nicholson, came up with was to use the prism of his family, particularly his marriage to Winnie and his interaction with his children. Though there are still passages spelling out the complex chess game that Mr. Mandela played with P. W. Botha, F. W. de Klerk and other apartheid leaders, the core of the film involves his faltering relationships with his family.
That Winnie, Zindzi and other Mandela children acted as official “historical advisers” became more of a benefit than a hindrance, Mr. Chadwick said, because they were just as keen as he was to have Mr. Mandela portrayed in the round, including his faults.
“He is a human being,” Zindzi Mandela said. “An extraordinary one, but a human being.”
•Meet One of the South African Stars: Tony Kgorge: A Freedom Fighter in the Cast of LONG WALK TO FREEDOM
New York, New York: Meet Tony Kgorge who plays ANC leader Walter Sisulu, the man who recruited Nelson Mandela into the ANC and who served an 18 year sentence on Robben Island alongside him, as seen in the the movie Long Walk To Freedom.
In his senior years, before his death,Sisulu became known as one of the wisest and most respected members of the ANC high command, admired for being humble, analytical, diplomatic and leading by example.
He would have approved of the actor chosen to portray him because he spent many years of the front lines of the fight for freedom. Tony’s affinity for his role grows out of his own life experience. He became politically conscious on the barricades of the struggle.
“Yes, I was a ‘young Lion,’” he told me, when I asked about how he became one of South Africa’s best -known young actors. The “young lions” is a term that referred to the bravest and most militant teenage activists who were often the first to be shot or arrested
He was considering leaving the country to join the ANC’s armed struggle, but by 1990, he was told to pursue his education because the war would soon come to an end.
He then studied to help communicate the hopes and pains of the movement. He joined political theater companies and studied to be an actor.
For his role in Long Walk, he researched the role thoroughly, telling me that he went to the Sisulu family.
“I was invited to a lunch one of the Sisulus, “a good friend of mine, Shaka Sisulu, who was Walter’s grandson. And I met with Max Sisulu as well, who is Walter’s son and the others at home and everybody there was just talking, and I was, mostly I was listening to how they saw their grandfather, or their father, and how they interacted and things like that.
“It was very interesting to see how different Walter was as a politician and a family man. So it’s one of those things that I also took into consideration when I was preparing for the role.”
He also visited the prison cell Sisulu was kept in for more insight into how Sisulu suffered.
“It was not that easy as we would think, you know? I mean going there and seeing the kind of conditions they were living in, “ he told me. “It was painful.”
For instanc I saw the tiny size of the cell. And how they were not allowed to talk at a certain time, and meet only at a certain time. But they didn’t lose the faith and the strength of togetherness. The strength of teaching each other and making sure they educated each other insured they don’t lose that hope that brought them in there in the first place.”
Tony told me felt a sense of awesome responsibility after I told him, “You know that you’ve got to get this right otherwise you’re going to do a disservice to your whole community.”
His response: “ I do I do. It’s very challenging and it worries me every second…like I said in the first week, it was very heavy because I was thinking of, am I doing it right? Am I there? Am I somewhere? But then you have the director giving me, advice like,” you have it now, just run with it or something like that
“I had DVDs of him I watched it all the time. Before I did any scenes I just make sure I put a dvd there just to watch him, his speeches his things, just the way he did things.
What’s interesting about this is that the director doesn’t want us to imitate the people. But he wants us to tell the truth and the story and the emotions of the time. So I’m kind of like playing towards that way instead of trying to imitate Sisulu.”
When Tony grew up in Blontfontein, he was drawn to political theater groups to promote the values of the liberation movement he was part of. He later connected with Johannesburg’s pioneering Market Theater
Later his talents would be recognized by international producers and began to win him roles in Invictus, Skin, Blood Diamond and Hotel Rwanda. When he won a part in Justin Chadwick’s The First Grader, he also met Anant Singh, producer of Long Walk to Freedom. Chadwick later encouraged him to audition for Long Walk. He earlier performed in popular TV shows like Gaz’lam and Zero Tolerance.
Tony is multilingual, speaking English, Tswana, Afrikaans and SeSotho. As a theater actor, his work includes. Equus; Woza Albert; SeZar (in the lead role of Julius Caesar) at the Oxford Playhouse in the United Kingdom, Die Jogger; Fiddler On The Roof; Mooi Street Moves, and Joseph for P.A.C.T.
Even as an actor, he’s fought for fair practices, picketing one production over terms he considered wrong. He told an interviewer, what bothered him:
“They will use the actors for ever and ever and will profit from syndication and resale without ever paying the people who are being seen and identified with the shows a single cent. The clause says something like:…in any and all forms of media, even those yet to be invented, in perpetuity..”
Outspoken but also very committed to being accurate, Tony Kgorge emerged as a star, alongside Idris Elba and Naomie Harris, of Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom. He gets third billing but few interviews overseas. He spoke to me.
•Not All The Critics Liked It: Simon Abrams writes on the Roger Ebert website
The film reduces Mandela’s ideas to impassioned sloganeering, and the repercussions of his ideas to unmoving montage sequences. It emphasizes his 27-year imprisonment as the foundation of his credibility, making the dense layers of make-up that are used to make a typically captivating Idris Elba the proof of his character’s struggle. The makers of “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” have good intentions, but they don’t effectively dramatize what they think makes their subject great…Mandela’s life in “Long Walk to Freedom” is defined by pained optimism.”
• LBN: Nobel Prize Economist Warns of Financial Bubble and Crash
An American who won this year’s Nobel Prize for economics believes sharp rises in equity and property prices could lead to a dangerous financial bubble and may end badly, he told a German magazine. Robert Shiller, who won the esteemed award with two other Americans for research into market prices and asset bubbles, pinpointed the U.S. stock market and Brazilian property market as areas of concern. “I am not yet sounding the alarm. But in many countries stock exchanges are at a high level and prices have risen sharply in some property markets,” Shiller told Sunday’s Der Spiegel magazine. “That could end badly,” he said.
•Finian Cunningham: Dollar Survival Behind US-China Tensions
In the imperialist, megalomaniac mindset of Washington, the “threat” to the US economy and indebted way of life is perceived as a tacit act of war.
•Glenn Ford, Black Agenda Report: Obama’s Ludicrous Afghanistan Declarations
“Since when has the U.S. voluntarily left anyplace it has forcibly occupied?”
•Michael Yon, Al Qaeda Burns A Church in Syria
•Iran Review: Is Obama’s Policy of “Tough Diplomacy” Withering Away?
•Eric Margolis, Toronto Sun Via ICH: Iran Gets Short End of the Geneva Deal
We have been watching the ugly spectacle of Congressmen and Senators backing the harsh criticism of their president by Israel’s Netanyahu.
•Roi Tov, Netanyahu Accused Of Corruption Inside Israel
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is highly skilled in financing war, to the extent that the disappearance of $3 billion on a war on Iran that never took place almost cost him the 2013 elections.
He survived the event due to the secret nature of the budget recipient, but secrecy on non-sensitive issues is no longer possible since 2010. The Israeli Government decided then to develop the Government Database as part of its Available Government Policy (“mimshal zamin” in Hebrew). ** The database is open for public use. Whenever the government tries to keep secret embarrassing expenses, it is sued and forced by the court to disclose the details. On December 1, 2013, Netanyahu was hit again by such an event.
Following a lawsuit by the Movement for Free Information, today was disclosed the cost to the State of Netanyahu’s Palace. The data is shocking. Israel is paying for the official residence in Jerusalem and expenses of his house in exclusive Caesarea, home to Russian billionaires and star-lawyers claiming “Kerry is the enemy of the Jews”.
Since I respect my readers’ time, I will keep the details to a minimum. 3 Million shekels was the cost of maintaining the Jerusalem residence in 2012; the Caesarean breeze cost 300,000 shekels. In total, roughly one million dollar. This is two times the cost of Ehud Olmert’s last years as Prime Minister, in 2008. How did Netanyahu justify the increase?
More than $20,000 were spent on water. The same amount was spent in flowers. An exercising bike cost $1,000. Coffee cost $5,000. Are you on a Blue Mountain Cofee diet, Mr Netanyahu? Catering cost well over $10,000, cleaning cost over $100,000. Is the cleaning company dusting the furniture with pulverized gold?
Political Scientist Michel Brenner On The Ways That Pope Frances’ Denunciation of Capitalism Was Ignored
Francis has composed a papal document, Evangelii Gaudium, unprecedented for the power of its message and the brutally frank language that expresses it. His “apostolic exhortation” condemning the “idolatry of money” proclaims as a commandment that today we must “say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality.” Such an economy kills.” Unbridled capitalism is
…How have the economic kings, our elected rulers, our masters of communication, and the American church itself reacted to Francis’ plea? The mainstream media have slighted it by neglect. The New York Times ran one straight news story – no editorial, no op-eds, no follow-up. The Wall Street Journal ignored the story completely, literally a non-event for them. The WSJ thereby showed itself true to its mission as a propaganda sheet for a dogmatic version of nineteenth century Darwinian capitalism. The Washington Post did better: a number of analytical pieces and commentaries. The New Yorker? National Journal? Time? National Review? New Republic? The New York Review of books blog? All – zero coverage. Television news has been its usual hapless self. Miley Cyrus gets more attention on her off-days.
What of our leaders in Washington and around the country? The White House has not said a word. President Barack Obama, renowned as a former community organizer, hasn’t seen fit to relate it to any of his goals or programs. When he is pictured in his pew at church Sunday mornings with head bowed in his hands, evidently his mind is not pondering the Biblical strictures: “when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.” (Luke 14:13
Nor have we heard from those devout Methodists, the Clintons, whose foundation is supposedly dedicated to uplift on a worldwide scale. Nor are there words of solidarity from Democratic Congressional leaders. As for the Republicans – we instinctively know the answer.
Then there is the American Catholic Church. Its cardinals are not known for their circumspection on matters of public policy – certainly not when it comes to abortion, gays, or contraception. They brim with righteous indignation. They lobby, they pronounce, they threaten catholic office-holders with excommunication. They use the altar as the bully pulpit. On Francis’ message, though, their silence is awesome…”
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