•••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…”
•Its the last month of the year, Chanukah ending, Christmas coming. Your comments and help welcome. Visit Mediachannel.org. Donations vis Paypal welcome. Write email@example.com. For more on the book, visit Madibabook.com
•••Sunday Morning: I will be joining Reverend Jesse Jackson and guests on his weekly radio show 8-9 AM on Keephopealiveradio.com
•••My New Book Madiba AtoZ: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela Has been published in the U.S. And South Africa. See Madibabook.com
Danny Schechter is an American journalist and a documentary filmmaker who made six non-fiction films with Mandela and who was asked personally by the filmmakers of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom to make a three-hour television documentary about the making of the forthcoming film. Schechter has worked in South Africa since the 1960s, which has given him unprecedented access to insiders. Schechter wrote about the liberation struggle and produced a TV news magazine for three years in its most crucial years from l988-91. Having worked both in public television and for CNN and ABC News, Schechter has also been part of the anti-apartheid movement globally as an activist, earning him the confidence of many anti-apartheid leaders. He continues to work around the world and lives in New York City. Read on for his insightful answers to my interview questions, search his book choices below, and be sure to check out the MADIBA A to Z website: http://www.madibabook.com/
Q: WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR AS A WRITER?
DS: Having written 15 books—and a constant stream of blogs and articles, I know there is an audience but sometimes reaching it is challenging, especially as marketing often is key to getting seen and read. My greatest fear and challenge is trying to find an engaging way to shape my work, and insure that the ideas are clear, the passion evident, and the text readable, as in a “good read.”
Q: WHAT DO YOU DO TO GET READY TO WRITE EVERY DAY? WHAT’S YOUR ROUTINE?
DS: “Every day” is the operative phrase because I have written a daily blog dissecting the news (I am known as ‘Danny Schechter The News Dissector;—see newsdissector.net—that often weighs in at 3000 words, citing other journalists’ reportage as well as my own. I try to read widely and watch diverse media outlets, and so prepare, perhaps compulsively because in journalism at least, being there regularly, and at the same time, is key to readers making you part of their media diet. When I am working on a book, I collect and file away material, and often make notes that I later draw on.
I am also influenced by deadlines, self-or externally imposed deadline that focuses my schedule. I write in the morning or late at night. My latest book on Mandela was a bit of a rush job, started in June, published in October. Thankfully, Dan Simon, the Publisher of Seven Stories Press was fascinated with the material and worked closed with me as an often very demanding editor. I worked on that every day, and night.
Q: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE METHOD OF PROCRASTINATION?
DS: I am a multi-tasker who tends to get overloaded with projects. I also make films and that puts a big crimp on my writing time. Sometimes, I get lost in my email or take refuge in the movie theater next door.
Q: WHAT IS ONE SONG/ ARTWORK/FILM/ PLAY/ PERFORMANCE THAT YOU WOULD MOST LIKE YOUR WRITING TO EMULATE?
DS: Good question. Tough Answer. I am a documentarian so am influenced by the work of others and I am sure that leads to cross-pollination. I get absorbed in studying technique and read widely from biography as in Manning Marable Malcolm and Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, to cite some current book, to John Le Carre’s espionage thrillers to Larsson’s trilogy and Ludlum’s pop thrillers.
Q: WHAT BOOK ARE YOU RAVING ABOUT RIGHT NOW?
DS: Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost, Eyes Wide Open by Noreena Hertz, and Carter Alan’s Radio Free Boston about the station I worked at.
Q: IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF ONE PIECE OF ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
DS: Slow Down. You Have Nothing To Prove. Think more deeply. Write more carefully, and don’t take yourself too seriously.
The Day After Black Friday
When I worked in TV in Boston, I was struck by how local stations abandoned covering most news and instead went “live”to the mall–not, one but many—to “report” on customers lining up for so-called Black Friday Sales. The saturation coverage was as much a promotion for the sales as a story on them, usually a one day phenomenon. I soon realized that advertiser dependent media shamelessly promotes retailers because that’s where much of their advertising revenue comes from. They hype the sales because they expect to be a beneficiary of them.
What the stations rarely covered were the games retailers played to lure customers by discounting some items and raising prices on others. They almost always concluded that the shop tip you drop action was fabulously successfully–packed parking lots, million spent, great introduction to the Christmas shopping season when many of these stores made most of their money.
Whoopee for Capitalism!
Much of this is an illusion because while crowds and whatever violence and mayhem they create makes news, what doesn’t is the report that comes out the day after Christmas from Master Card that usually states how disappointing the revenues were, and then in early January, that’s followed by the unreported RETURN of lots of merchandize when credit card bills come in. More and more, at least half the shopping is done ONLINE and is usually not part of the Black Friday hoopla.
•AP is out with a report on Fridays sales: Thanksgiving takes more Black Friday sales
Thanksgiving Day is no longer all about turkey: It’s eating away at Black Friday shopping. U.S. shoppers spent $9.74 billion on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. That’s a drop of 13.2 percent compared with last year, according to data released on Saturday by research firm ShopperTrak. The decline appears to show that more Americans shopped on the holiday itself. The stores are so nervous that they now open early and of course their workers are mostly SEASONAL and will be gone come January when unemployment will go UP!.
And there is this–a function of the consumer wars, perhaps:
•In God we trust, maybe, but not each other
WASHINGTON (AP) – You can take our word for it. Americans don’t trust each other anymore. We’re not talking about the loss of faith in big institutions such as the government, the church or Wall Street, which fluctuates with events. For four decades, a gut-level ingredient of democracy – trust in the other fellow – has been quietly draining away.
•Jim Zarroli, NPR: A New Worry Looms Online For The Affordable Care Act
Saturday is the day the Obama administration promised it would have HealthCare.gov working smoothly for the majority of people who need to sign up for health insurance….
•The Week: The NSA’s Organizational Chart
Here is the latest version of the National Security Agency’s unofficial org chart, a mind map I have been updating ever since Edward Snowden made it cool to obsess about the NSA.
•Independent–Horrific: Lostprophets’ Ian Watkins: The powerful men who abuse – and lie about it
•Yahoo: Challenging the NSA
Stanford researchers are trying to act like the NSA in order to learn about the NSA. Researchers Jonathan Mayer and Patrick Mutchler created MetaPhone, an Android app which collects a phone’s metadata and compares it to basic information on Facebook. After learning that the NSA collects phone metadata from Verizon such as calling and texting logs, the researchers wanted to test how revealing this metadata is.
•NYT: Bedouins in Israel Protest Plan to Regulate Settlement
JERUSALEM — Thousands of Bedouins and their supporters demonstrated in various locations across Israel on Saturday against a government plan to regulate Bedouin settlement in the Negev desert, and some protesters clashed with the police.
In scenes reminiscent of the Palestinian uprisings in the West Bank, protesters hurled stones at police forces, burned tires and blocked a main road for hours near the Bedouin town of Hura in the Negev. The police used water cannons, tear gas and sound grenades to disperse the demonstrators.
Smaller protests were held in the northern cities of Haifa and Taibeh and in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.
Altogether, about 15 police officers were injured by stones and at least 28 protesters were arrested, said Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman. One officer was stabbed in the leg in Haifa, Mr. Rosenfeld said.
Activists had called for the protests as part of an international “day of rage” against the plan, known as the Prawer-Begin plan for the Israeli officials who devised its main principles.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych says he is “deeply outraged” by events at opposition protests in Kiev which were violently dispersed by police.
•BBC: US man ‘confesses’ to N Korea crimes
North Korean media say a US citizen detained there for more than a month, Merrill Newman, has confessed to “indelible crimes” against the state.
•WSJ: DAMASCUS, Syria—At least 150 Syrian soldiers were killed this week in a rebel attack that leveled the main buildings at a large base outside Damascus, one of the single highest death tolls of government troops since the start of the armed uprising, according to military and security personnel with knowledge of the assault.
A Syrian military spokesman confirmed earlier rebel accounts that they had tunneled under the buildings for months, then filled them with explosives and blew them up on Sunday.
Harsh Kabra in the Indian city of Pune reports on a unique wedding website for HIV positives.
Fast And Furious Star Dies In Car Crash
•Paul Walker, the “Fast and Furious” actor and professional race car driver, died Saturday after a high-performance red Porsche he was riding in crashed and exploded near a charity event near Santa Clarita, his official Facebook and Twitter accounts both have confirmed. He was 40.
paul walker crash police“It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide,” the Facebook post reads. “He was a passenger in a friend’s car, in which both lost their lives.
•Vulture: What New Folk Musicians Share With The Old Ones
It’s a strange business, “reviving” something that’s been revived a few hundred times already: Sometimes you get evolution, and sometimes you just get diminishing returns.
•••Thanks for being here. Mediachannel.org has been updated. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org Visit Madibabook.com
•••My New Book Madiba AtoZ: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela Has been published in the U.S. And South Africa. See Madibabook.com
•Madiba AtoZ: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela was commissioned by the makers of the Mandela Long Walk to Freedom movie that opened Friday in New York and LA, It will be released nationwide on Christmas Day. It is already playing in South Africa and France, and opens in England in early January with a special screening hosted by Prince William and Princess Kate for the Royal Family.
I followed the making of the movie in South Africa and have completed a multi-part documentary about its meaning due out now early next year. My book based on the interviews I did for what South Africans refer to as the “doccies” was published this past week in New York by Seven Stories Press and Jacana Media in South Africa. Naturally, like everyone around the we waited for what the critics would say.
Happily, most of the reviews were positive, especially in New York and LA. Stephen Holden gave it a rave in the New York Times.
Excerpt: “Long Walk to Freedom” sustains the measured, inspirational tone of a grand, historical pageant. Events that are worth films of their own are compressed into a sweeping, generalized history. Gripping, dynamically choreographed scenes of street violence are harrowing but short, as the story hurtles forward at breakneck speed.
If the lack of specifics about politics is frustrating, how could it be otherwise? Mr. Mandela’s biography and South African history are so rich and inextricably linked that it is impossible to reduce it to a nearly two-and-a-half-hour movie without it feeling rushed and incomplete.
•In Tinsel Town, The LA Times was even more enthusiastic.
For though it’s a story we’ve heard so often that we perhaps take it for granted, seeing all the events of this remarkable journey laid out for us in a two-hour and 21-minute feature underlines its not-to-be-believed qualities.
For My Purposes as an author of an unofficial companion book, the Associated Press review picked up across the country and world included this sentence: “This is the perfect time for youngsters (or their elders) who don’t know enough about the man to go learn about him.” YES!
The Response in South Africa
In South Africa, audiences loved it but some critics were underwhelmed although reviewers have far less clout writing mostly in what is seen as White media, especially because of all the interest that was already there.
Reuters reported: JOHANNESBURG, Nov 29 (Reuters) – ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ won rave reviews from South Africans who flocked to its opening night but critics were unimpressed, with one describing the latest biopic about the anti-apartheid leader as overly reverential ANC propaganda.
With South Africa’s first black president now 95 and in poor health, cinema-goers were in emotional mood at Thursday’s first airing of the 150-minute epic, which stars British actors Idris Elba as Mandela and Naomie Harris as his wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
“It was an extremely warm, emotional experience for me,” said 42-year-old Seedat Tahera, praising the authentic feel of the movie, filmed partly in Soweto, the sprawling Johannesburg township at the heart of the struggle against white rule.
“I grew up in the streets of Alexandra township and for me every step that Mr Mandela took, it was as if I was taking that step again. It brought me great calmness and peace. I feel very loved and fortunate to be a South African.”
Mandela, who became president in 1994 but stepped down after one term in office, gave independent South African producer Anant Singh the film rights to his ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ autobiography more than 15 years ago.
Much of the difficulty in bringing the book to the big screen was condensing a story stretching over six decades, including 27 years in prison, into a two-hour film script.
Singh and British director Justin Chadwick chose to focus on Mandela’s fight against apartheid and the toll it took on his family. They also tried to show the good and the bad, including the embrace of violence that led to his life prison sentence.
But critics said it failed to do this and had instead become another cog in the myth-making machine that the African National Congress (ANC) and others have created around Mandela.
“By failing to deal in any significant way with Mandela’s politics and refusing to spend any time examining what it was about him that propelled him into such a visible role in the liberation movement, the film does itself an insurmountable disservice,” wrote reviewer Tymon Smith.
“The film simply reinforces the hagiographic propaganda of the ANC,” he said in South Africa’s Times newspaper.
Maybe so, but South Africa’s top critic Barry Ronge called it “excellent”
•Heather Walker Writes in The South African, a global outlet for South Africans worldwide
“As South Africans, we’re emotionally connected to Nelson Mandela’s story; it’s the story of the birth of our democracy and of the history that shaped us all. It’s particularly significant as we reflect on 20 years of freedom and Madiba lies frail and ill in the twilight of his Long Walk.
That’s why after watching Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, my inner patriot is wrestling with my inner critic.
Let’s face it – condensing a 700-page autobiography covering more than 70 years of an extraordinary life into a two-hour feature is a monumental challenge. The finished product is bound to be controversial in terms of what’s included and what is not.
Because of the difficulty in portraying visually what is as much a book about a man’s internal journey to freedom as about his – and his country’s – political journey, this film concentrates on the more dramatic episodes in the last half of the former president’s life, cleverly interspersed with flashbacks to his childhood and early days in Johannesburg.
A stirring soundtrack and some stunning landscape shots – sweeping vistas of Cape Town, Eastern Cape and the Winelands – are bound to give South Africans goosebumps (and make homesick expats weep).
The plot is fast paced and compelling but a tendency to skip years and even decades renders certain scenes more like vignettes. With little time to properly contextualise events or introduce supporting characters, those with only a cursory grasp of SA history may struggle to keep up.”
•Videovision, the movie company that made the film in South Africa issued this release: MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM BREAKS BOX OFFICE RECORDS
South African audiences have responded overwhelmingly to Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom resulting in the film opening at Number One at the box office yesterday, out-grossing last Thursday’s opening of the eagerly anticipated Hunger Games: Catching Fire by 39%. Cinemas around the country have reported unprecedented attendances for Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom which translated into the excellent box office performance.
The film was the top earner on the circuits of both major exhibitors Ster Kinekor and NuMetro yesterday as well as the leading independent cinemas groups, grossing a over R750 000 with a massive daily screen average of R8 620. This is a record for a Thursday out of school holidays, especially as the film has four shows compared with six shows for other films.
The manager at the Ster Kinekor cinema in Soweto’s Southgate Mall said attendance was abnormally high for a Thursday, as some viewers took the day off work just to make it. Similar feedback has been received from cinemas countrywide.
Producer, Anant Singh said, “It is extremely gratifying for us as filmmakers to have our home audience embrace our film and react so positively to it. We are proud that a South African film is competing so well against one of the most anticipated sequels of all time.”
•I received one letter from A South African friend active in the liberation struggle who writes: “Those of us who were close to the events are still a bit miffed! But, hey, it’s a movie, not a doccie! Right??
News We Need To Know
•Popular Mechanics: Here’s What a Shooting War in the East China Sea Might Look Like
•IBT: China, US, Japan Jets Tail Each Other
During the height of the Cold War, the US military put such an emphasis on a rapid response to an attack on American soil, that to minimize any foreseeable delay in launching a nuclear missile,
The U.S.-led international coalition in Afghanistan is apologizing for an airstrike that killed a 2-year-old, a death that Afghan President Hamid Karzai said imperils a long-term security agreement between the two countries….
•NYT: KABUL, Afghanistan — Two separate but similarly bitter disagreements over drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan have complicated relations between the United States and those two countries at a delicate moment, again highlighting the political complications from America’s persistent reliance on the lethal remote-controlled weapons.
In Afghanistan, the American military commander called President Hamid Karzai late Thursday to apologize for a drone strike that resulted in civilian casualties and that gave Mr. Karzai renewed reason to refuse to sign a long-term security agreement with the United States.
In Pakistan’s tribal belt, meanwhile, what was thought to be C.I.A. drone strike on Friday killed a Pakistani militant days after a major political party, as part of its campaign to end the drone strikes, publicly named a man it said was America’s top spy in the country.
The use of these weapons, which is deeply resented, highlights the political costs to the United States of the drone campaigns, even as its range of military options in the region has started to narrow with American combat troops leaving Afghanistan.
•Peter Hart, FAIR: On The Times Coverage of Afghanistan
The New York Times published an editorial on Sunday (11/24/13) that offered a puzzling history of the US war in Afghanistan:
From his first campaign for the White House, President Obama has vowed to end more than a decade of war, bring the troops home and put America on a less militaristic footing. He has reduced the forces in Afghanistan from about 100,000 in 2010 to about 47,000 today and has promised that all American and international combat forces will be out by the end of 2014.
Now, most people know that Obama did not take office in 2010. So why offer that as the starting point in an analysis of how Obama is “bring[ing] the troops home”? Perhaps because it makes it seem like Obama is actually doing that–even though the facts tell a different story.
When Obama took office, there were about 32,000 US troops in Afghanistan. A massive escalation of that war on Obama’s watch brought the total near 100,000 (ThinkProgress, 6/22/11). So there’s still almost half again as many US troops in Afghanistan as there were when Obama came to the White House. This is a strange way to “bring the troops home.”
The Times editorial is trying to argue that Obama “still has to make a case” for keeping troops there after 2014. That’s certainly true. But why the Times seems to want to erase the significant increase in Afghanistan troop levels under Obama is a mystery.
•Does Obama Want to Stay in Afghanistan to Harvest Its Opium?
By Sherwood Ross
Is the real reason President Obama would like to keep U.S. troops in
Afghanistan until 2024 to allow the CIA to cash in on its $50 billion
annual opium crop?
When the Taliban ruled Pakistan, if nothing else, it suppressed the opium
trade. It is indisputable this situation radically worsened after the U.S.
Professor Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research, Montreal, wrote: “The
Taliban prohibition had indeed caused the beginning of a heroin shortage in
Europe by the end of 2001.”
Indeed, noted Canadian journalist Eric Walberg wrote in his “Postmodern
Imperialism”(Clarity): “Within two years of the CIA operation in
Afghanistan,the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands became the world’s top
He writes, “opium production has increased 33 fold from 185 tons in 2001 to
6100 tons in 2006. In 2007, Afghanistan provided approximately 93% of the
global supply of heroin…”
If the Central Intelligence Agency was not involved fang-and-claw in the
Afghan drug trade it would be acting out of character. The CIA’s history of
dope peddling is well documented. The practice yielded tidy sums the CIA
could spend at will, without going to Congress.
Black Friday Shopathon
•AP: Americans kick off 2-day holiday shopping marathon
The holiday shopping season started as a marathon, not a sprint. More than a dozen major U.S. retailers stayed open for 24 hours or more on Thanksgiving Day through Black Friday, and crowds formed early and often over the two days. About 15,000 people waited for the flagship Macy’s in New York to open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
•Forbes: Black Friday Is Really An Arms Race
Every big box chain is competing to be the first port of call for shoppers as they battle long lines, cold, fatigue, and sharp elbows — not to mention dwindling funds.
•The Nation: The Workers Who Bring You Black Friday
My life as a temp in California’s Inland Empire, the belly of the online shopping beast.
•Reuters: Shopping Leads To Hangovers
The decision by a New York bank to close Cuba’s checking account in the United States has presented an unusual diplomatic quandary that provides a test for new-found pragmatism in relations between the two longtime foes. Cuba blamed its unusual bank-less status on the longstanding U.S. economic embargo against the communist island, as well as sanctions resulting from it being included on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Yahoo: A stunning Act Of Kindness:
Jack MacDonald clipped coupons and took the bus, but had a secret $188M fortune that he left to various charities.
•AP: Techies vs. NSA: Encryption arms race escalates
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – Encrypted email, secure instant messaging and other privacy services are booming in the wake of the National Security Agency’s recently revealed surveillance programs. But the flood of new computer security services is of variable quality, and much of it, experts say, can bog down computers and isn’t likely to keep out spies.
In the end, the new geek wars -between tech industry programmers on the one side and government spooks, fraudsters and hacktivists on the other- may leave people’s PCs and businesses’ computer systems encrypted to the teeth but no better protected from hordes of savvy code crackers.
•Thanks for being here. I hope you survived the shopping madness. Comments to email@example.com. Visit Mediachannel.org and Madibabook.com.
For the retail world, today is Black Friday. For Adbusters: it’s Buy Nothing Day. Here is their statement.
•••Hey all you dreamers, redeemers and spiritual wildcats out there….
Will this year’s Black Friday be the largest shopping day yet in the history of the world, or will it be the beginning of an all-out meme war on one of the most cherished sacred cows of Western civilization?
In the age of ecocidal climate change, record personal bankruptcy, skyrocketing mental illness and ubiquitous obesity rates, the time has finally come to pull back the curtain on this absurd cultural ritual and say what it really is – DOOMSDAY.
The stage is now set for the most absurd holiday of the apocalyptic age.
Let’s put our zombie gear on and do the zombie walk in every bank, mall and box store on the planet – especially Walmart! Together, we can disrupt the madness.
This Black Friday, let’s wake the living! #Zombiewalk
*The Atlantic: Economic Lessons To Make You A Smarter Shopper
•••My New Book Madiba AtoZ: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela Has been published in the U.S. And South Africa. See Madibabook.com
•••Marta Steele, Op-Ed News: REVIEW: Danny Schechter, “Madiba A to Z: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela”
In the News
•ICH, David Blair: Tony Blair Asked Me To ‘Help Invade Zimbabwe’, Says Thabo Mbeki
South Africa’s former president claims that his country was asked to help Britain topple Robert Mugabe.
Is War in the Air?
•AlJazeera reports: China sends in warplanes after Japan, SKorea defy air defense zone
Beijing says move is ‘defensive measure’ but order comes amid escalating regional tensions
Chinese air force spokesman Shen Jinke announced the measure, telling state-owned Xinhua news agency that several fighter jets and an early warning aircraft hads been sent on normal air patrols in the zone.
Shen described the flights as “a defensive measure and in line with international common practices.” He said China’s air force would remain on high alert and will take measures to protect the country’s airspace
Japan and South Korea announced hours earlier that they had defied China’s newly declared air defense zone with military overflights. The move follows that of the U.S., which sent B-52 bombers into the airspace on Tuesdsay.
The defiant flyovers come amid increased regional and international concern over the air defense identification zone (ADIZ).
Declared last weekend by Chinese officials, the zone includes flight paths above disputed islands claimed by China, which knows them as the Diaoyus, but controlled by Japan, which calls them the Senkakus.
Both the U.S. and Japanese governments have accused China of provocation in regards to the air defense zone. Meanwhile Beijing has come under domestic pressure to deliver a tough response to the incursions.
The ADIZ requires aircraft to provide their flight plan to Chinese officials, declare their nationality and maintain two-way radio communication or face “defensive emergency measures”.
But Tokyo said its coastguard and air force had flown unopposed in the zone without complying with Beijing’s rules.
“We have been operating normal warning and patrol activities in the East China Sea including that area,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. “We have no intention of changing this.””’
•China Daily: Air zone ‘not aimed at civilian flights’
•Nile Bowie ICH: Washington’s B-52 Diplomacy
US flyover in China-Japan island row: Will the real provocateur please stand up?
•Police arrest Egypt activist over call to protest
CAIRO (AP) – Egyptian security forces arrested a prominent political activist Thursday night over inciting a demonstration in defiance of a new law heavily restricting protests in the country, his family said. The arrest of Alaa Abdel-Fattah, a blogger who rose to prominence in Egypt’s 2011 revolution, quickly dominated social media.
•Soft Coup in Thailand from Michael Yon
Government opposition has grown in Thailand to historical proportions. Millions of Thai people from all walks of life, and from across the political and economic spectrum, are uniting to overthrow the current government, which is corrupted to the core.
So far, the massive anti-government rally has been peaceful. Many government buildings have been peacefully seized and are being occupied.
I am in Turkey down near the Syrian border and so am not a personal witness, but am checking the news and working my sources to keep tuned in. Myriad images from the government opposition show that the activists are not muscled thugs, but normal people, including grandmothers and grandfathers, who are tired of watching Thailand suffer under the hands of a few.
An anti-government activist sent me their statement, which is published in six languages:
28 November 2013
Government opposition has grown in Thailand to historical proportions. Millions of Thai people from all walks of life, and from across the political and economic spectrum, are uniting to overthrow the current government, which is corrupted to the core.
So far, the massive anti-government rally has been peaceful. Many government buildings have been peacefully seized and are being occupied.
I am in Turkey down near the Syrian border and so am not a personal witness, but am checking the news and working my sources to keep tuned in. Myriad images from the government opposition show that the activists are not muscled thugs, but normal people, including grandmothers and grandfathers, who are tired of watching Thailand suffer under the hands of a few.
An anti-government activist sent me their statement, which is published in six languages:
Friends of Thai people,”
In regard to the occurring political situation in Thailand, we, the people who strongly oppose the entire Thaksin-backed regime, want to see his influence completely washed out from our beloved country. ”
We have lost trust in the Thai government, a puppet being controlled by fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the brother of the current PM, Yingluck Shinawatra. With Thaksin’s ghost-like presence in Thailand, this has shown that we will never achieve our goal if his root has not been eradicated. ”
This has been the largest demonstration in Thailand’s history of almost a thousand year, two-times larger than in 1973 uprising and twenty-times than in 2010, millions of people have gathered at the democratic heart of Bangkok in Rajdamnoen and elsewhere across the country, as they can no longer accept the wide spread Thaksin-devil-regime present at all level.”
We can no longer stand the government claiming its victory to election to the rights of the majoritarianism, especially in the Parliament, where they have been trying to make laws beneficial to the Shinawatra family and those involved in the circle. This is a dictatorship democracy against the provision of public will. ”
We can no longer stand to see the media still being under its control, putting the government in a good light. Finally, we can not stand to watch the country being plagued by Yingluck’s administration through its disastrous policies and the huge scale of corruption in Thai history.”
We, the people, would like to see the Shinawatra family and cronies be dismissed from Thai politics.”
The nationwide uprising in Bangkok and rural provinces, as well as the occupation of government premises and ministries across the country, are our intention to paralyse Yingluck Shinawatra’s government. We have always upheld our methods through peaceful means. We strongly oppose any movements of violence and we do not desire a military intervention.”
We hope our friends all around the world will give us your support and bless us all.”
•Ellen Brown: More on Monsanto and the TPP
•Pope ramps up charity office to be near poor, sick
VATICAN CITY (AP) – When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis was known to sneak out at night and break bread with the homeless, sit with them literally on the street and eat with them, as part of his aim to share the plight of the poor and let them know someone cared. That’s not so easy to do now that he’s pope.
*Gem Presents: Crowd Funding a New Journalistic Emterprise
•Insider Reports on OurMissingNews.com:CBS News Acts on Mistaken Benghazi Report
Chairman of CBS News and Sixty Minutes Jeffrey Fager has placed correspondent Lara Logan and her producer Max McClellan on indefinite leave. As a former CBS news assignment editor, I can tell you there is always some edict, some rule that has been violated and in this case there were many. CBS News director of standards and practices, Al Ortiz found plenty of broken rules in the Sixty Minutes report on the Benghazi attack of September 11th of last year. A lie is usually apparent when one person is piping 2 different stories of the same incident to a correspondent.
Such was the case with security agent Dylan Davies telling Logan and McClellan different stories. Turns out Davies was not there the night of the attack. Logan was looking for a different angle on the “old” story and she sure got it from Davies with the pseudonym of “Morgan Jones,” who was willing to tell a tall tale allowing himself to be called the first western eyewitness of the much debated attack. But Davies or Jones or whatever you wanted to call him claimed he had lied to his own Blue Mountain employer about his activities that night. Looking for a story instead of honest investigation will often send an eager reporter into the land of the unreal. The fact Davies said he lied to his boss was overlook consciously or unconsciously in an effort to air a good story. Sixty MInutes knew the FBI and State Department had differing accounts from what had been told the network and yet went ahead with the show without thoroughly investigating.
There is no information on how long Logan and her producer will be on leave. The network as in the past will probably wait to see whether Logan’s blunder will be remembered or forgotten by the affiliated stations and the public before deciding on the longevity of her departure.
• WATCH ON BBC: Watch: Glenn Greenwald: The Goal Of The U.S. Government Is To Eliminate ALL Privacy Globally!”
Video – BBC – Hardtalk
Glenn Greenwald – the man who broke the Snowden story. His mission, he says, is to hold power to account. Is this a journalistic crusade that’s gone too far?
•BusinessWeek: The Man Who Took On Merrill
In 2004, Merrill had almost 10,000 full brokers, not including trainees; fewer than 150 were black.
•An Eyewitness in Tehran tells us about the reaction to the news of the nuclear deal.
“!I wished you were in Tehran at the bank watching everybody else listening to the president announcing the results of the Geneva talks after these lengthy weeks of negotiations, Tehran got released from a stand still. The joy of a breakthrough in any direction seemed more important than the content of the head to head bullfight of the big powers versus the 100day old presidency of Hassan Rohani! You know how happy I become with others joys and good hopes even when they are false! As soon as I heard the VOA &BBC in the evening I had to face my gullibility as usual.
What The Deal Says
•Afro Middle East Center: The recently agreed ‘joint plan of action’ between Iran and the P5+1 (Russia, China, France, Britain, USA, and Germany) over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme resulted in Middle Eastern shockwaves, specifically in Israel and certain Gulf states. Though the agreement was not unexpected, surprise was expressed at the US announcement that bilateral negotiations with Iran had begun in March and had been attended by senior government officials.
Signed early on Sunday, 24 September, the agreement entails Iran:
halting 20 per cent enrichment of uranium, and deluding its stockpile of 20 per cent enriched material – except for that already converted for use in medicine production;
resolving not to increase its stockpile of 5 per cent enriched uranium;
halting construction of the Arak heavy water reactor;
not installing new IR1 centrifuges, and operating only half its current 18 000 centrifuges; and
permitting daily intrusive inspections of its Fordo and Natanz nuclear facilities.
In turn, the P5+1 states have committed to easing UN sanctions – on Iranian exports of gold and petrochemical products, and trade in motor and airplane parts, a phased unfreezing of oil revenue held in international institutions, and an agreement that no further sanctions would be sought against Iran. Estimated to collectively be worth around seven billion dollars –1.4 per cent of Iran’s GDP, this arrangement will be effective for six months while a comprehensive agreement is negotiated. It will likely also result in a reduction of the European Union’s sanctions, which, together with those of the USA, have crippled the Iranian economy, halving government revenue, and causing the Rial to lose two thirds of its 2011 value.
•Analysis From Political Scientist Michael Brenner:
There are three noteworthy points. First, the documents signed last weekend encompass a set of commitments and understandings that require elaboration and further negotiations. That is evident. Second, they are limited to the nuclear issue, i.e. they do not necessarily foreshadow a drastic or quick transformation in the tenor of strategic relations between the two sides across the board. Certainly, a formidable obstacle to the normalization of those relations seems to have been removed (or, at least, is in the process of being removed).
However, resolution of other points of friction cannot be taken for granted – even if there are objective grounds for judging that the two countries have convergent interests in places like Afghanistan. Ayatollah Khomeini made oblique allusion to those fraught elements in his public remarks. Finally, the Obama administration will be under pressure from allies in the Middle East (Israel, Saudi Arabia) to demonstrate that it remains committed to protecting their fundamental interests. They will favor encapsulating the nuclear accord insofar as dealings with Tehran are concerned. They also will press Washington to refrain from further initiatives that are seen as undermining the status quo as to Palestine, and the autocratic counter-revolution that has suppressed the Arab Spring. In addition, each local party will lobby hard to draw the United States towards its side of the line in the Syrian civil war.
A plan has been drawn up to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons at sea using a mobile plant on a US Navy auxiliary vessel, Newsnight understands.
•Your Next Phone Will Be The Ultimate Surveillance Weapon
•Canada: Comedians Challenge Spymasters
Yesterday afternoon, a group of documentary filmmakers, comedians and youth activists entered a security checkpoint at the current CSEC headquarters in Ottawa, dressed up as “internet cookies” and “installed” themselves, refusing to leave until they got answers to four questions related to the controversial spy agency’s operations in Canada. One of the four questions was “Has CSEC ever received information about Canadians, Canadians abroad or any persons in Canada from a foreign intelligence agency?” This question was partially answered a few hours later with the release of new leaked documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, revealing CSEC’s collaboration with the NSA to spy on people in Canada attending the 2010 G20 in Toronto.
The group of information-gathering “cookies” were equipped with several small spy cameras and managed to record their interactions with numerous CSEC staff and various levels of security. One of the groups members was a Canadian citizen, born and raised in Zimbabwe who lived under the oppression of Robert Mugabe’s intelligence force.
During the 2-hour occupation three security officials of increasing seniority were dispatched to attempt to convince the group to leave the premises, to no avail. Near the end of the day a representative (who unlike the security officials, did not disclose his name or position) arrived to supervise the removal of the “cookies.” This anonymous official remained silent while a senior security representative negotiated with the group for nearly half an hour. Occasionally the security representative turned to the official in question seeking nods of approval for the terms he was negotiating. When this anonymous official noticed that the conversation was being filmed the following exchange was recorded:
ANONYMOUS CSEC REP: “It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a privacy violation to record someone’s image or photograph and publish it without their consent.”
“COOKIE” SEAN DEVLIN: “That’s funny. Aren’t you being sued for violating the privacy of people all across Canada?”
ANONYMOUS CSEC REP: “That’s just, that’s just the BC Civil Liberties Association, they’re a private group. That’s their prerogative.”
“COOKIE” SEAN DEVLIN: “That’s their prerogative? Sorry, are you saying you’re not doing that (violating privacy)?”
ANONYMOUS CSEC REP: “It’s their prerogative to try and petition for answers in the courts.”
Eventually, the senior security official promised (on camera) to get a CSEC communications representative to respond to the groups questions. At which point the “cookies” happily “deleted” themselves from CSEC property. It was a long day for the group, which had spent the morning being confronted by security for hanging a banner at CSEC’s new $1.2 billon dollar headquarters, which are currently under construction.
“The Conservative government’s spying is out of control.” says SHD.ca Executive Director Sean Devlin. “They’re spending billions of tax dollars on secretive efforts that appear to include spying on foreign governments and peaceful people in this country in an attempt to protect corporate oil and mining interests.”
The “cookies” were members of the viral online political comedy community SHD.ca. They were in Ottawa this week producing a documentary on the Conservative government’s spy programs and lack of transparency.
•••Thanks for being here. Please visit Mediachannel.org as well. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. I am looking for a volunteer to help with graphics in tis blog. ALso check out: Madibabook.com
•••My New Book Madiba AtoZ: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela Has been published in the U.S. And South Africa. See Madibabook.com
•••Marta Steele, Op-Ed News: RREVIEW: Danny Schechter, “Madiba A to Z: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela”
“[W]hen he was released from prison, people said “Well now you’re free. And he said, “No, we’re free to be free.’”
As one of the world’s living icons who has recovered from his latest brush with death, and on the heals of the release of the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,  the beloved Nelson Mandela has received another stunning tribute–the twenty-six astonishing reflections in the biographical abcdarium Madiba A to Z: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela.
With a forward by the newly released film’s producer, Anant Singh, this latest written tribute to the Nobel laureate comes from a firsthand witness of the lifting of the Apartheid, Danny Schechter, whose favorite country in the world is South Africa. This renowned media critic, prolific author, filmmaker, television producer, and radio interviewer knows both Nelson Mandela and former Archbishop Desmond Tutu personally, among many other heroes of this epochal revolution–from the late Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer to Thabo Mbeki, who succeeded Mandela as president of South Africa. Schechter has spent activist time in South Africa since 1967, from the Apartheid era through its liberation to the present.
•••RELATED: Check out 100 Reporters, New Journalism For A New Age website featuring this essay by Ron Nixon: Operation BlackWash
•Happy Turkey? A Thanksgiving Resource Via Liz Burbank
•THE INDIANS HAVE BEEN FIGHTING TERRORISM SINCE 1492
“The greatest single acts of terrorism to date were not perpetrated by Osama
bin Laden, but by the US military when it dropped atomic bombs on the people
of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
2001 Speech by Moonanum James, 32nd National Day of Mourning
To have been delivered at Plymouth, Massachusetts, 197
Speech by Moonanum James, Co-Leader of United American Indians of New
England at the 29th National Day of Mourning, November 26, 1998
•Vernon Coleman: The Truth About Thanksgiving
Americans celebrate the theft of the country they call their own with a
feast they call Thanksgiving.
At a meeting in New England in 1640 the following motions were put to the
1. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.
2. The Lord may give the earth or any part of it to his chosen people.
3. We are his chosen people.
Naturally the assembled bunch of smug, barbarians voted `yes’ to all these
motions, and thereby sanctified (in their minds) the theft of a nation. It
was generally agreed Indians were savages with no rights and yet both the
American constitution and the Declaration of Independence were based on
texts devised and used by Native American Indians – texts whic included
fundamental ideas on liberty, freedom and even legislature. The American
Government signed 370 treaties with the Native Indians and violated
provisions in every single one of the treaties.
•Black Commentator: Celebrating the unspeakable
The End of American Thanksgivings Will Be a Cause for Universal Rejoicing
The Mayflower’s cultural heirs are programmed to find glory in their own
depravity and savagery in their helpless victims.
Nobody but Americans celebrates Thanksgiving, reserved by history and the
intent of ³the founders² as the supremely white American holiday, the most
ghoulish event on the national calendar. No Halloween of the imagination can
rival the exterminationist reality that was the genesis and the legacy, of
the American Thanksgiving….the most loathsome,
humanity-insulting day of the year pure glorification of racist barbarity.
Thanksgiving is much more than a lie… not just a twisted fable… the
mythology it nurtures is inherently evil. The real-life events
subsequently revised were perfectly understood as the first, definitive
triumphs of the genocidal in New England. The near-erasure of Native
Americans in Massachusetts and, soon thereafter, from most of the remainder
of the northern English colonial seaboard was the true Pilgrim mission Act
One of the American Dream. African Slavery was the overlapping and
ultimately inseparable Act Two.
The last Act of the American dream must be ³root and branch² eradication of
all vestiges of Act One and Two seminal crimes and formative projects –
Thanksgiving an affront to civilization…
a cornucopia of privilege and national power…
We are thankful the day grows nearer when the almost four centuries-old
abomination will be deprived of its white supremacist reason for being so
that we may all eat and drink in peace and gratitude for humanity¹s
deliverance from the rule of evil.
•Global Intersect: Infographic on Costs of Thanksgiving Meals
•Think Twice: Black Friday Deals Not What They Seem
Some News of Note
NYT: Pakistani Party Identifies Man It Says Is C.I.A. Station Chief
The political party of the former cricket star Imran Khan on Wednesday identified a man it described as the Central Intelligence Agency’s top spy in Pakistan, in an escalation of Mr. Khan’s campaign to end American drone strikes in the country.
In a letter to the Pakistani police, Mr. Khan’s information secretary, Shireen Mazari, accused the C.I.A. director, John O. Brennan, along with a man identified as the agency’s Islamabad station chief, of “committing murder and waging war against Pakistan.”
In Washington, a C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment on the case.
•CLG: Singapore and S. Korea help the US and Australia tap undersea cables –
Singapore and South Korea are playing key roles helping the United States and Australia tap undersea telecommunications links across Asia, according to top secret documents leaked by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. New details have also been revealed about the involvement of Australia and New Zealand in the interception of global satellite communications. A top secret United States National Security Agency map shows that the US and its “Five Eyes” intelligence partners tap high speed fibre optic cables at 20 locations worldwide. The interception operation involves cooperation with local governments and telecommunications companies or else through “covert, clandestine” operations.
The Italian Senate votes to expel ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi from parliament over his conviction for tax fraud.
•Fascinating Diary: AlJazeera America’s Story of a Terrorist
In order to prevent terrorism, one has to understand terrorists. There is no better way to do so than to understand their thinking and feelings — in essence getting a peek into their minds. Given the unreliability of memory, one of the best windows into an individual’s mind is a diary written at the time of events. The publication of Zain Abidin Mohammed Husain Abu Zubaydah’s diary is a critical development in the study of a terrorist movement. This may help answer some of the mysteries of why and how people become terrorists.
The diary, started in 1990, shows a 19-year-old man, somewhat estranged from his Palestinian family in Saudi Arabia, who had gone to India to study computers the year before. As a Palestinian refugee, he was discriminated against in Saudi Arabia, and this area of study was closed to him there. In India he felt betrayed by his friends, homesick and somewhat despondent. He sought refuge in religion and, together with a friend, decided to go for military training in Afghanistan in January 1991. Arriving at the Khaldan paramilitary training camp, he felt at home with other young men like himself, men wanting to become Muslim soldiers, mujahedeen, to fight the communist Afghan government. He returned to India to pack up, went back to Khaldan for a few months’ training and then, with his class and trainer, went to the front near the city of Gardez in the fall of 1991. He was part of the Arab contingent — young Arab men who arrived from around the world, primarily the Middle East and North Africa, to help Afghan resistance fighters against the communist-supported government of President Mohammad Najibullah.
In December 1991, Abu Zubaydah was wounded by mortar shrapnel that penetrated his skull. He was incapacitated for about eight months. During his recovery, the Najibullah government fell, and the various Afghan mujahedeen factions turned on one another, with each warlord fighting his rivals. The Arab foreigners were in a quandary. Should they stay and train other Muslims to free themselves from despotic regimes? Should tey go to new lands of jihad — Kashmir, Algeria, Bosnia, the Philippines? In December 1992, Abu Zubaydah accepted an invitation to become a trainer to Tajiks at Al Faruq, a jihadi camp near Kandahar funded by Osama bin Laden.
•Sheldon Richman ICH, Iran: It’s Not about Nuclear Weapons
Look at the leading opponents of the agreement: Israel and Saudi Arabia.
•Jonathan Cook, Netanyahu’s Peace Gesture is Meant to Extract Concessions
Netanyahu’s offer was as hollow as his previous utterances about Palestinian statehood.
•Andrew Rosenthal, The N.S.A. Dips Into Pornography
J. Edgar Hoover compiled secret dossiers on the sexual peccadillos and private misbehavior of those he labeled as enemies – really dangerous people like Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy, for example.
•Beware Trade Deals: From Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen:
“I’ll give them this: Giant corporations are crafty.
Or maybe devious is a better word.
Years ago, they realized that a pesky little thing called democracy might prevent them from getting what they wanted — essentially unlimited power — no matter how much they spent engineering elections and buying off politicians.
So they came up with a fallback plan:
Exploit obscure international trade pacts — which were being negotiated with little public or press oversight — to get what they could not achieve openly and democratically: weaker food and medicine safety standards, corporate-friendly energy and environmental policies, limits on Internet free speech, new privileges to raise medicine prices and offshore jobs, and more.
And they call these backdoor schemes “free trade agreements.”
Well, the deals do leave corporations “free” to undermine the policies that protect all of us from being casualties in their global race to the bottom.’
We know all too well how disastrously NAFTA worked out.
Now there’s an even worse deal in the works, which has been described as “NAFTA on steroids.”
It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.
The TPP currently involves the United States and these 11 other countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Other countries could join in later — including China.
One of the most outrageous things these deals do is let corporations demand compensation from taxpayers — in secretive, foreign tribunals — for any policy or government action they claim interferes with their expected profits.
•Protests in Chicago
—-[Chicago, Illinois] Citizens to Abolish Red-Light Cameras (C.A.R.L.C.) is inviting all concerned citizens of Chicago to a mass demonstration at 3646 West Madison Street Chicago, IL 60624 to protest red and speed light cameras. The group is calling for the immediate removal of all red and speed light cameras throughout the city of Chicago. C.A.R.L.C. believe that the city’s red and speed light camera program is a violation of its citizen’s constitutional rights and is designed solely to increase the city’s financial coffers. C.A.R.L.C. is a group of Illinois citizens comprised of volunteers who are committed to the removal of red and speed light cameras throughout all communities in Chicago.
•Opinion: Brendon Bosworth, Thoughtleader, Mail & Guardian, South Africa: US journalists are self-censoring their work
This year, in the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaking of classified documents about digital spying, we’ve come to learn that big brother is definitely watching. As revelations about the National Security Agency and the US’s massive digital spying regime continue to surface it’s become increasingly clear that the majority of digital communications are anything but private.
A common analogy is that one should now think of emails as “postcards” that can be read by anyone instead of letters sealed in envelopes that only the recipient can view.
The reality of digital surveillance and its scope is starting to hit American writers who, according to a new report by PEN America, are beginning to censor themselves, either through being reluctant to write about certain topics or being reluctant to contact sources they believe they will put in danger.
As the report (based on a survey of 520 writers) highlights, 1 in 6 of the writers surveyed avoided writing or speaking on a topic they thought would subject them to surveillance. Writers reported self-censoring on subjects “including military affairs, the Middle-East, North Africa region, mass incarceration, drug policies, pornography, the Occupy movement, the study of certain languages, and criticism of the US government.”
One respondent explained how the extra precautions taken to protect sources, like meeting in person instead of talking over the phone, “remind me of my days as Moscow bureau chief of [a major news outlet] under Communism, when to communicate with dissidents and refuseniks we had to avoid substantive phone conversations, meet in person in public, etc”.
Censorship strangles intellectual thought and limits oppositional viewpoints. When journalists and writers start to steer clear of difficult topics, either for fear of their own safety or that of their sources, public understanding suffers.
•And Finally: Thanking Ed Snowded on The Busses in Washington DC
•Happy Holiday I guess even if I don’t celebrate it. Visit Mediachannel.org Comments to email@example.com. Looking for a holiday gift: consider my book Madiba AtoZ and our website: Madibabook.com.