"I don't battle anymore! I uplift motherfuckers!" - GZA
Monday, October 31, 2005,4:41 PM
Distrust flourishes when dark corners are illuminated.
What Lies Beneath
Two books tease out shadowy subtexts—from the past seven decades to just last year

by John Giuffo

The outrage and attention focused on the Holocaust led to cries of "never again," until, of course, the tragedies in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur. The anger and self-criticism sparked by My Lai did nothing to prevent Abu Ghraib or Guantánamo Bay. We may be doomed to re-enact the mistakes of the past, no matter how much we come to terms with it. Knowledge is no prophylactic.

John S. Friedman has more faith in the power of historical revelation. His anthology, The Secret Histories, reads like a hymnal to the power of the exposé. Friedman, a Nation contributor and documentary filmmaker, has combed through some of the larger events of the post—WW II era and culled 26 stories, books, and congressional reports that together tell an unacknowledged version of the past 65 years. It's a familiar bunch of dark tales: how the FBI launched counterintelligence programs (COINTELPROs) against left-wingers; how the CIA fomented the 1953 coup in Iran; excerpts from the Watergate and Pentagon Papers stories; a bit from Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago; and part of Seymour M. Hersh's reporting on Abu Ghraib.

Secrets have power, and the power to prevent repeats of history's tragic episodes is one of the collection's unwritten goals. But many of Friedman's histories aren't secrets at all, and while they may have "challenged the past," aside from the occasional Watergate-level stories it's doubtful many of them have "changed the world." Tragically, in many cases, such as the "Genocide Fax" about the coming slaughter in Rwanda, they changed absolutely nothing.

The inclusion of Eileen Welsome's reporting on "The Plutonium Experiment" focuses not on the event itself—the decades-long cover-up of the intentional exposure of American citizens to lethal doses of plutonium—but on Welsome's attempt to put human faces and names to the experiment's subjects. Welsome dug up the identities of the "unwitting human guinea pigs" for her 1993 series for The Albuquerque Tribune, but the experiments had been revealed in a science journal in 1976, and addressed later in congressional hearings that received a modicum of press coverage in 1986. So Friedman hasn't chosen to highlight the exposure of a secret so much as he's trumpeted the story that brought this ugly atomic secret to the attention of a larger audience. The fact that the plutonium experiments were conducted at all is the rotten meat here; Welsome's stories ran 17 years after the experiments came to light.

If The Secret Histories is a Behind the Music—style collection of underappreciated historical events, then Censored 2006, the latest installment of "the previous year's most important underreported news stories," is the I Love the 00s of the secret-news anthology set. Where Friedman's collection,
best for undergrads, seems stale and familiar, Project Censored's 25 most overlooked stories of 2004—2005, selected mainly by undergrads, seems more to the point.

Here are some underreported stories that we can work with: how the Bush administration is undermining open government (#1); how the news media are criminally neglecting to cover the civilian death toll in Iraq (#2); how journalists are facing unprecedented dangers (#7). For the smart and courageous news manager, this annual report is a virtual road map for the coming year's news schedule. Many of these stories should, in an ideal news world, prompt deep and lengthy investigative efforts. That they don't is part of the book's point—the mainstream media, corrupted by profit motives and a fear of an organized right-wing backlash, are often unwilling or unsuited to examine many of these stories. "Project Censored goes where the media's conformist angels fear to tread," writes columnist Norman Solomon in his introduction. (Disclosure: I wrote a story that was included in a past edition of Censored.)

Perhaps it's a product of the pressure to fill out a collection, or maybe a result of the selection processes, but both anthologies risk trivializing their weightier parts by including less substantial offerings. In a fit of lurid excess, Friedman includes an excerpt from Anthony Summers's 1993 J. Edgar Hoover bio, Official and Confidential, detailing Hoover's alleged cross-dressing and mob ties. Similarly, the students and faculty members at Sonoma State University who choose the 25 most "censored" news stories of the year ( Underreported and/or What We'd Emphasize 2006 being deemed, apparently, too precise) display a sometimes frustrating tendency to include the obvious (#13, "Rich Countries Fail to Live Up to Global Pledges") or the confusingly obscure (#24, "Ethiopian Indigenous Victims of Corporate and Government Resource Aspirations").

But chalk any shortcomings up to format. If Friedman's collection works best as a course reading—The Norton Anthology for Vindicated Paranoiacs— it's the perfect inspiration for the healthy skepticism displayed by the students and instructors at Project Censored. Both anthologies inspire a necessary distrust of the news media—and an unhealthy tendency to make us more receptive to conspiracy-theory readings of news and history. If you come away from these collections questioning everything you know, that's part of the point—distrust flourishes when dark corners are illuminated.
posted by R J Noriega
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Sunday, October 30, 2005,11:18 AM
old Jim Crow has officially become James Crowe for a new millenium
While America remembers Rosa Parks, some in North Lafayette are being reminded of Jim Crow. A whites only barbershop owner says it's not what you think. Or is it?

Barber Herb Leger says, "I tell them you want a haircut, go across the street. They can give you a professional haircut, but I can't." Most people are shocked when they see whites only on Leger's barber sign. Like Victoria Cenales who stopped by to ask Leger why doesn't he accept black customers.

Leger told her, "It's not that I don't want black people in the shop. It's just that I'm not qualified to give them professional service." Cenales told him, "People will misunderstand that sign. That was back in the 60s."

Leger says he's inexperienced and not trained to cut black hair. "Completely different way of cutting hair. It's not the same," he says. The owner of Platinum Kutz, another barbershop across the street, says Leger has never sent customers his way, and customers inside can't believe Leger thinks it's okay to put up a whites only sign. Thirty-year-old Nick Milton says, "I had to think about what year I was in - whether I was in the 60s or the 2000s." "Just plainly state I don't do black haircuts. You don't have to say whites only," Ellis Banks says. Barber Ron Landry tells KATC, "It's a racial sign. It makes a statement. I don't like it."

Leger is 72-years-old and clearly remembers the animosity and hurt that "whites only" signs spread during the civil rights era. He says he's not racist, just not qualified. Cenales says his sign is "the way society is." "Most people are closed-minded," she says.

Leger understands the sign could send a mixed message. "In today's life, I can see. People, especially your black people are not very broadminded," he says. Platinum Kuts owner Jason Walker says, "I feel it's ignorance, and it has no place.

Leger says in a few days he's replacing his temporary sign with a permenant one without whites only. Since he only opened two months ago, he used it to establish the kind of services he offers.
posted by R J Noriega
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Tuesday, October 25, 2005,3:01 PM
like Peter Tosh said we all are africans

Posted By: Pianke Nubiyang
Date: 11, May 02, at 12:44 p.m.


One of the first regions settled by ancient Africans for thosands of years before Columbus is the Choco Region of Colombia. In fact, in certain areas, such as San Agustin, one will see monuments with Negroid featured sculpture holding African shamanistic objects identical to those used by the ancient Oni or Priest-Kings of Nigeria (see the Essay, "African Civilizations of America."

Choco was one of the primary areas of Portugese and Spanish slave-raiding before Columbus' official trip to the Americas. The slaves were Africans who had been living on the coast of Colombia for hundreds of years before the arrival of the Europeans to the New World. In fact, some of the very first African slaves to reach North America were Africans captured on the Coast of South America by the Spaniards and Dutch, then sold to North America (the U.S.) (See the writings of Peter Matyr, Balboa, Ivan Van Sertima); see also the world-famous book, "A History of the African-Olmecs, pub. by 1stbooks Library, 2595 Vernal Pike, Bloomington, Indiana 47404 U.S.A
or the work, "Susu Economics: The History of Pan-African Trade, Commerce, Money and Wealth," by 1stBooks Library.)


Slavery was abolished in Brazil in the late 1800's. That was one of the last places to abandon slavery, just after some of the Spanish-speaking nations. Yet, today in many Latin American nations, the conditions are no different from the days of slavery. Blacks are stil being oppressed at a level that is beyond anything in existence except the oppression of Black Untouchables (Dalits) in India.


Oppression against Blacks in Latin America follows a very different pattern from that which existed in the U.S. during the Jim Crow and Civil Rights era or even the slavery era. In the history of people of Spanish and Portugese origins, the African/Blacks are not some strange, unknown race. Blacks ruled Iberia for 800 years and contributed to the technological and cultural development of Spain and Europe. These Blacks who came from an area stretching from Nigeria to Morocco were Africans who had converted to Islam and created an African version of Islamic culture in parts of West Africa and the Maghreb. That culture used Islamic religion but the African customs, family values, structure, architecture, military system and languages remained intact. In Egypt, that was not the case, Arabic customs and culture replaced the old Khemitic (Felahim and Black Egyptian/Nubian traditions).

Thus, the Blacks who entered Spain in 711 A.D. were Islamized Africans and we know them as Black Moors. The Arabs invaded in abot 1000 A.D. and with them came in Jews and others. When Queen Isabella and Ferdinand defeated the Moors, millions dispersed throughout Europe, including the one million who went to Southern France. Many returned to Africa, others were enslaved and shipped to the Americas. Many were eliminated.

So, people of Spanish, Italian, Portugese, French and other southern European origins have been interacting with Africans even before there was a large European (Caucasian) population in Southern Europe.

Hence, the application of racial integration and miscegenation with the objective of blending out the Black is part of the system of Latin American/Spanish genocidal racism called "The Spanish Experiment." It was applied in Spain to destroy the cultural and racial identify of the Blacks, Arabs and Jews in Spain after the takeover by the Spanish crown. This racist system is today applied in Brazil and Latin America, where the great mythology of "racial harmony" and "integration," is being promoted. Yet, Blacks in Latin America, who know better, do not accept this genocidal "utopia" that is being pushed by the Latins in these nations.

The reality for Blacks in Latin America is what occurred in Choco, Colombia, where Blacks are not even counted. With about 30 percent or more of Colombia's population being African descent, it is a matter of time that Blacks in that nation and the rest of Latin America, where the Black population is about 200 million, rise up in a struggle that is unlike any that the Americas has known.


The Organization of Africans in the Americas (O.A.A.), held a meeting in Venezeula about a year ago. That organization includes representatives of all Blacks living in the Americas, from Argentina to Canada. The objective of the OAA is to improve the lives of Blacks throughout the Americas whose suffering in some Latin American nations and elsewhere is becoming unbearable.

The newspaper "The Final Call," carried an article about the various forms of racism, neglect and genocide being carried out against Blacks in Latin America. This reality was crucial in pushing for the establishment of the Organization of Africans in the Americas. The aim of that organization is the protection and the development of Blacks throughout the Americas. With the attacks on Blacks in Latin America, including the elimination of Black children on the streets of nations like Brazil and others, the organization has a task on its hands that will one day extend beyond mere poitical solutions.

The attack on the Blacks of Choco, Colombia, a region with remnants of people of African slave origins as well as Africans who lived in the region for thousands of years before European colonialism in the area, is really an attack on Black people all around the world. What do Blacks world-wide do, when racism and genocide worse than anything that happened in South Africa is allowed to fester in Latin America. What does the Black world, particularly powerful Black neighbors like Black America and the Black Caribbean do when Black people in Latin America are being treated worse than animals? We unite and formulate a policy of Black Liberation and upliftment throughout the Americas. We form alliances with Black nations and other nations around the world and work to improve the lives of Blacks on a worldwide scale. That is what the Organization for Africans in the Americas is doing and it is an organization that should build its strengh among the Black nations and communities in every nation of the Americas. It is only through unity and strength that Blacks will not be treated worse than animals in Latin America. It is through close cultural, economic, military and physical unity, contact and unification of African religion, culture and values that Blacks in the Americas will move forward. Languages like Spanish, Portugese, English, French and Dutch were the languages the slave-owning elite of Europe imposed on Blacks in the Americas, but who are we as African people. We are Niger-Congo. Our linguistic pattern, which is still thriving in the accents as well as actual languages of some in Cuba, Brazil and elsewhere is the Niger-Congo pattern. We are Africans of the Negro race and the fact that we are Black people is the reason why we are not respected and ran over by others. We who live throughout the Americas should reject all colonial and slave ties and work to unify our people. Perhaps we should return to making Yoruba a common language among the three hundred million people of African descent of the Americas. We should return the religions of Shango, Mbanda, Vadu, Lucumi and the African metephysical and spiritualist religions as a tool of spiritual and cultural unity. Perhaps publishing companies like Ebony, Essence and others should work to create versions in Spanish and Portugese. BET (Black Entertainment Television) and other Black owned media should expand in Black Latin America, where the vast majority of Americas-Africans reside. After all, WHERE WAS THE INFORMATION ABOUT THE MASSACRE OF BLACK PEOPLE IN COLUMBIA ON WHITE LATIN TELEVISION???? Where is anything about Black culture on white Latin television and media, which is even more racist and exclusive than American television and media, when it comes to Blacks.

It is time for a change and that change will come when Blacks who speak Spanish, French, Dutch, Portugese, Yoruba and Arabic (in Sudan) realize that we are Black Africans first and foremost and no matter which colonial language we speak, RACE IS THE ISSUE, and in Latin America as well as Arabic-speaking North Africa, or even West Papua, its our Blackness and African being that pushes people to attack us. Furthermore, it is the use of religion as an excuse to commit genocide, along with racist ideas that adds to the attack on Blacks. It is time to come up with a religious, political, economic and military ideology and strategy based on Black World Nationalism that counters and defeats racist oppression of Blacks in Latin America, the Americas and around the world.

Pianke Nubiyang
posted by R J Noriega
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,2:49 PM
deculturation still an ongoing process?
Venezuela to Expel U.S. Evangelical Group
by Humberto Márquez

CARACAS - Venezuela will expel the U.S. evangelical group New Tribes Mission, which has been active in indigenous communities along the southern border with Colombia and Brazil since 1946, President Hugo Chávez announced Wednesday.

"They will leave Venezuela," said the president. "They are agents of imperialist penetration. They gather sensitive and strategic information and are exploiting the Indians. So they will leave, and I don't care two hoots about the international consequences that this decision could bring."

New Tribes, an evangelical organisation that has long had close ties with the U.S.-based Summer Institute of Linguistics, is active in a number of countries in Asia and Latin America, and in Venezuela has focused its efforts on the Yanomami, Ye'kuana and Panare indigenous groups and other ethnic communities in the southern part of the country.

The Summer Institute of Linguistics was founded in 1934 with the declared purpose of translating the Bible into indigenous languages.

Chávez was delivering collective land titles, boat motors, vehicles and credits to indigenous communities in the plains region in southern Venezuela on Wednesday, the date he had declared "day of indigenous resistance," when he made the surprising announcement on the New Tribes Mission in a nationally broadcast speech.

"I have seen reports and videos on the activity of these New Tribes. We don't want them here; we all form part of an old tribe," Chávez quipped.

Since the 1970s, New Tribes has drawn heavy criticism from many quarters, including leftist political groups, environmentalists, indigenous organisations, academics, Catholic Church leaders and even members of the military. The controversial group has been accused of prospecting for strategic minerals on behalf of transnational corporations and of the forced acculturation and conversion of indigenous people.

Sociologist and environmentalist Alexander Luzardo, who 20 years ago published a report on the New Tribes Mission's operations in the Amazon jungle, welcomed Chávez's decision.

He told IPS that the decision "complies with what is stipulated in the constitution of 1999, which establishes indigenous peoples' right to self-determination and to respect for their beliefs, values and customs.

He also said the expulsion of the group would be in line with the recommendations of numerous government and parliamentary reports that had warned about the group's activities in Venezuela.

"New Tribes has westernized indigenous people by force, while spreading a sense of shame and guilt, disguised as teaching the gospel: they taught the Panares that Satan had turned into a Panare Indian and that they were guilty of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ," said Luzardo.

However, New Tribe missionary Richard Bruce said in an interview with the local press four years ago that "we want to respect the way of life and customs of indigenous peoples, not change them overnight. This is not a corner of the United States."

During the group's most active period, roughly 20 years ago, New Tribes missionaries from the United States numbered close to 200, said Luzardo. They were mainly concentrated in Tama-Tama, a spot where several rivers meet in the heart of the southernmost Venezuelan state of Amazonas.

This area is believed to be rich in minerals like uranium. For many years, New Tribes built airstrips and modern installations that contrasted sharply with the rustic constructions in the indigenous communities they ministered to.

The now defunct National Identity Movement, which grouped together cultural, environmental and indigenous organisations in the 1980s, maintained that New Tribes acted as a cover for the prospecting of geological and mineral wealth coveted by corporations that provided funding for the Summer Institute of Linguistics. These included General Dynamics, a defence industry contractor, and Ford.

Nevertheless, the demands made at the time for the expulsion of the New Tribes Mission from Venezuela eventually faded into oblivion, as did public concern over the activity of the group, which has also experienced divisions in recent years, Luzardo commented.

But that changed with the announcement made by Chávez, who noted that "while indigenous people live in extremely difficult conditions, New Tribes have power plants, radio systems and airstrips well maintained with tractors and mowers, where planes fly in from abroad without going through any kind of customs check."

His reference to the potential consequences of the measure is likely due to the fact that New Tribes belongs to the Evangelical Council of Venezuela and could accuse the government of religious persecution.

But it is also an organisation based in the United States, and the Venezuelan and U.S. governments have been caught up in an escalating political and diplomatic confrontation for the last two years.

What's more, in August, U.S. televangelist Pat Robertson publicly called for the Venezuelan leader's assassination, and last Sunday accused Chávez of providing funding to Osama bin Laden, leader of the Al Qaida terrorist network.

Chávez stressed that "we are not going to run roughshod over anyone, we will give New Tribes time to pack up their things and go."

Although Luzardo believes the measure is a positive one, he added that "just today there were new indigenous protests, because Chávez is opening up indigenous lands to coal mining (in northwestern Venezuela) by other ‘new tribes', this time from Brazil," an allusion to joint ventures formed for this purpose by Venezuelan and Brazilian companies, whose activities are scheduled to begin next year.
posted by R J Noriega
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Oriental Trading Company