Tuesday, May 27, 2008

thoughts on mccain's disavowal of the pastors

Thoughts on McCain's recent disavowal of John Hagee and Rod Parsley, the pastors whose endorsement he sought:

1. To begin with, it was pretty cynical of him to seek the endorsements in the first place. He was basically trying to shore up his relationship to the evangelical base of the Republican party, especially in swing states. (Parsley is in Ohio).

2. Even with a bad vetting job, I don't believe the McCain camp would have been totally ignorant of Hagee and Parsley's bigoted comments about Muslims and Catholics. (Which as I've said before are more "mainstream" than the media seems to be acknowledging. In fact, the extent of religious bigotry in the evangelical community should be a story, even apart from the campaign).

3. It is conceivable to me that the McCain camp perhaps missed Hagee's comment that Katrina was sent as a punishment for a planned New Orleans gay pride event but they definitely had to know that Hagee and Parsley would have strong statements against homosexual behavior.

4. Finally, I think McCain's decision to ultimately disavow the pastors was calculated and cynical as well. McCain was fine with bigotry against Muslims, Catholics and homosexuals. But once it is discovered that Hagee made an odd comment involving Hitler (suggesting that Hitler was God's instrument to ultimately herd the Jews to Israel) it was time to pull out for fear of alienating Jews. The "funny" thing is that as a Christian Zionist, Hagee is actually a staunch supporter of the state of Israel and has even won a number of humanitarian awards from a number of Jewish organizations.

5. In the long run, I wonder if this whole episode has alienated McCain even more from the evangelical base? One can only hope.

Slate: The Devil's in the Details: Why John Hagee's views on the Holocaust aren't the only reason for McCain to reject him
AP: Pastor says parting with McCain best for both

Grenada's past;
more on mccain's racially problematic politics
mccain, racism and religious bigotry
mccain - romney ?
mccain's spiritual advisor hates muslims and islam
should john mccain reject and denounce minister john hagee?
john mccain: "i hated the gooks. i will hate them as long as i live."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

how to write a political poem aka "somewhere in flordia votes are still being counted"

The following poem has been heavily anthologized. (I actually own at least 3 different poetry/spoken word CDs and a DVD where it appears). It was on my mind recently because I had been listening to some of the above-mentioned CDs in my car this week. And I decided to do an entry about it because it started to resonate with some other things going on these days.

For example, it is nearly 8 years after the 2000 U.S. Presidential election and people are still talking about counting votes in Florida. Also, I'm in the middle of reading Gaming the Vote: Why Elections Aren't Fair (And What We Can Do About it) by William Poundstone and I was a bit surprised by Darth Vaderish description of Nader's intentions in 2000 (that he consciously took on the spoiler role as a way to punish the Clinton-Gore administration for not paying any attention to him during their 8 years in office). Finally, I also think that Taylor Mali's cynicism about political poetry definitely applies to much of the political rhetoric coming from the presidential candidates these days... but more on that later...

How to Write a Political Poem
By Taylor Mali

However it begins, it's gotta be loud
and then it's gotta get a little bit louder.
Because this is how you write a political poem
and how you deliver it with power.

Mix current events with platitudes of empowerment.
Wrap up in rhyme or rhyme it up in rap until it sounds true.

Glare until it sinks in.

Because somewhere in Florida, votes are still being counted.
I said somewhere in Florida, votes are still being counted!

See, that's the Hook, and you gotta' have a Hook.
More than the look, it's the hook that is the most important part.
The hook has to hit and the hook's gotta fit.
Hook's gotta hit hard in the heart.

Because somewhere in Florida, votes are still being counted.

And Dick Cheney is peeing all over himself in spasmodic delight.
Make fun of politicians, it's easy, especially with Republicans
like Rudy Giuliani, Colin Powell, and . . . Al Gore.
Oooooh, see what I did? I called Al Gore a Republican.
That must mean that my political sensibilities are much more finely tuned than yours.
Create fatuous juxtapositions of personalities and political philosophies
as if communism were the opposite of democracy,
as if we needed Darth Vader, not Ralph Nader.

Peep this: When I say "Call,"
you all say, "Response."

Call! Response! Call! Response! Call!

Amazing Grace, how sweet the—

Stop in the middle of a song that everyone knows and loves.
This will give your poem a sense of urgency.
Because there is always a sense of urgency in a political poem.
There is no time to waste!
Corruption doesn't have a curfew,
greed doesn't care what color you are
and the New York City Police Department
is filled with police officers!
People who wear guns on their hips
and carry metal badges pinned over their hearts.
Injustice isn't injustice it's just in us as we are just in ice.
That's the only alienation of this alien nation
in which you either fight for freedom
or else you are free and dumb!

And even as I say this somewhere in Florida, votes are still being counted.

And it makes me wanna beat box!

Because I have seen the disintegration of gentrification
and can speak with great articulation
about cosmic constellations, and atomic radiation.
I've seen D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation
but preferred 101 Dalmatians.
Like a cross examination, I will give you the explanation
of why SlamNation is the ultimate manifestation
of poetic masturbation and egotistical ejaculation.

And maybe they are still counting votes somewhere in Florida,
but by the time you get to the end of the poem it won't matter anymore.

Because all you have to do to end a political poem is close your eyes,
lower your voice, and say:

the same line three times,
the same line three times,
the same line three times.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

obama and different religious communities

On religion factor, it's Obama for president by Douglas Todd

Let's cut to the almost-inevitable chase: How will Barack Obama do against John McCain in this fall's rumble for the U.S. presidency? With signs showing Hilary Clinton will have to drop out of the race, we're going to be left to determine whether the 46-year-old black Democrat or 71-year-old white Republican will climb into the powerful office. And that requires looking at the religion factor.

In American politics, which hugely affects Canada and the globe, religious loyalties deeply shape voters' preferences. But November will see a volatile election as things are changing dramatically on the U.S. religious front. The main reason is the country's large white evangelical bloc, worth more than one out of every four votes, won't be the all-important factor it was in bringing George W. Bush to power in 2000 and 2004.

If you harbour any doubts about how big a role religion plays in American politics, look at the blanket media coverage early this month of Obama's relationship to his boisterous former Chicago preacher, Jeremiah Wright.

For his part, McCain also has links with radical Christian leaders, even though they've not received the same level of attention. Still, McCain's opponents repeatedly question how the Arizona senator could embrace preacher John Hagee, who has denounced Catholicism as the "Great Whore" and believes Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment on "sinful" New Orleans. The latest polls show, overall, Obama holding onto about 47 per cent of Americans' support, compared to McCain's 43 per cent. Given that, let's break down how religious groups in the U.S. might lean come the fall ballot.

American Jews generally lean to Democrats over Republicans. A Gallup poll showed Jews would vote for Obama over McCain by a margin of 61 per cent to 32 per cent. The trouble for Obama is Jews count for only one out of every 58 American voters.

The Muslim vote also goes strongly to Obama. Muslim leaders are actively questioning McCain's ties with Muslim-bashing Protestant preachers. However, Muslims make up only one out of every 166 Americans.

These black Chrisians account for a significant seven per cent of Americans. They're a slam dunk for Obama. Polls show nine out of 10 will vote for their Harvard-educated Christian brother, a member of the United Church of Christ denomination.

Most Americans who say they're non-religious (16 per cent) strongly favour Obama over McCain.

Eight years of Bush in the White House have changed the political shape of American evangelicalism. Many evangelicals are no longer making opposition to abortion and gay marriage their prime issues. Some Christian leaders are calling for evangelicals to stop being "useful fools" who blindly follow the Republican party no matter what. George Barna, a respected evangelical pollster, says white evangelical support for the Republican party is down to 29 per cent, a calamitous decline.

McCain, an Episcopalian who attends his wife's Baptist church, also has to deal with not being the first choice of the Religious Right, which had wanted Mike Huckabee. Aware of his lack of credibility among these hawks, McCain had argued the U.S. military needs to stay in Iraq for a century (a position he softened Thursday, May 15, 2008) and he's been singing the praises of some hard-line televangelists.

Meanwhile, even though Obama is pro-choice on abortion and homosexual rights and says the U.S. must get out of Iraq, many born-again Christians like him anyway, for talking passionately about the redemptive power Christ has had in his life. An informal poll by the leading evangelical youth magazine, Relevant, found evangelicals in their 20s would overwhelmingly vote for the black senator.

Catholics are key because they make up the swing vote in U.S. elections. Comprising 24 per cent of Americans, Catholics have for the past nine elections consistently backed the winning horse for president. Though public polls have not yet directly compared how McCain and Obama would do among Catholics, McCain will likely be in trouble among them for embracing the combative Protestant Hagee, who took until May 13 to apologize for branding Catholicism a "cult."

There is little doubt events beyond religion will stir up voters before the November election, particularly if a conflict arises with Iran. But barring an earth-shattering political event, I'd place my bets, given religion-rooted trends, on Obama for president.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

rap the casbah

"Born Here" - DAM

“Min Irhabi?” (“Who’s a Terrorist?”) - DAM

In These Times: Rap the Casbah by Michelle Chen
For more than a generation, hip-hop has drawn kids from neighborhoods around the world into the musical intersection of street culture and political consciousness. Now that common ground is making a mark in one of the globe’s most conflict-ridden areas: the Arab world.

(global) southern girl
verily, there is only one hip-hop umma
representin' the west (bank)
hisham aidi
daara j brings rap back to its african roots
al-ahram does a story on muslim hip-hop
more on muslims and hip-hop
afro-asian crosscurrents in contemporary hip-hop

even more assorted bits

1. Is it just me or are the more black "talking heads" on the television news shows? And what is even better is the fact that they aren't just race experts but they are talking about the economy, the war, etc.

2. What is more elitist than being willing and able to whip out 6 million dollars of your own money in an attempt to acquire more political power even when the popular will seems to be against you?

3. I was fortunate enough to see MSNBC's Chris Matthews give a verbal smackdown to Kevin James on live television. It is sad to think that the people in the media responsible for informing the public could be so misinformed themselves. I think that part of the issue is that much of the news is just political propaganda read by "pretty faces" (see "i'm as mad as hell, and i'm not going to take it anymore") and so research is less important.

4. In a similar vein, I was surprised to see some clips recently where Fox's O'Reilly reveals how mean-spirited he can be. The following exchange with Geraldo Rivera makes O'Reilly look like the last juror to switch sides in 12 Angry Men:

and then in the following O'Reilly just shows himself to be short-tempered and crazy:

5. John Hagee really isn't all that unique. Anti-Catholic and anti-Islamic ideas are more prevalent among Evangelicals than is generally acknowledged by the media. I mean, I grew up going to church which taught from the pulpit that Catholics weren't really Christian. I think such sentiments are widespread. I'm not saying that we are anywhere close, but I wonder what kind of pressures, what kind of change in the political and economic situation, how much of a loss of social order and restraint would be necessary for the US to sink to the kind of sectarian violence which has appeared in Pakistan or Iraq (or Northern Ireland for that matter)?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

walterio carbonell (1920-2008)

From The Passing of a Black Giant in Cuba: A Tribute to Walterio Carbonell by Carlos Moore:
Widely regarded as the father of a Black Consciousness movement in Cuba, the Cuban ethnologist and historian, Walterio Carbonell, died on Sunday, April 13, 2008, at the age of 88. For Cuba, whose Black population now comprises 62 percent of the total, it is a great loss. Carbonell was regarded as one of the most profound Cuban intellectuals for the latter half of the 20th century. His work, On the Origin of National Culture, published in Havana in 1961 but immediately banned by the Castro regime, made him an instant icon to Black Cuban racial dissidents. The book was published in France only a few weeks ago.

See also AfroCubaWeb: Walterio Carbonell passed on to the ancestors Sunday, 4/13/08

Thursday, May 15, 2008

juan crow in georgia

The Black Commentator: Juan Crow in Georgia by Roberto Lovato
Latinos’ subordinate status in Georgia and in the Deep South bears more than a passing resemblance to that of African-Americans who were living under Jim Crow. Call it Juan Crow: the matrix of laws, social customs, economic institutions and symbolic systems enabling the physical and psychic isolation needed to control and exploit undocumented immigrants. Listening to the effects of Juan Crow on immigrants and citizens like Mancha (”I can’t sleep sometimes because of nightmares,” she says. “My arms still twitch. I see ICE agents and men in uniform, and it still scares me”) reminds me of the trauma I heard among the men, women and children controlled and exploited by state violence in wartime El Salvador. Juan Crow has roots in the US South, but it stirs traumas bred in the hemispheric South.

why is america in iraq? aka what if noam chomsky were a latino stand-up comedian?

I normally have trouble swallowing Carlos Mencia's unapologetically jingoistic brand of comedy so I was really surprised by the following excerpt from one of his shows:

rev. 'icarus', the obama campaign, & the left

The Black Commentator: Rev. ‘Icarus’, the Obama Campaign, & the Left by Bill Fletcher, Jr. gives some insight into what Rev. Wright's real crime was and why certain folks got so mad.

Monday, May 12, 2008

more assorted bits

1. I think it is not just surprising but sad that out of all the members of Public Enemy, Flavor Flav seems to be the most successful and the one who is still in the public eye in a big way... from the Surreal Life, to Strange Love, to 3 seasons of Flavor of Love and a Comedy Central Roast, to a new sitcom. Why can't Chuck D get that much exposure? I would love to see Chuck D replace Colmes on Fox News' Hannity and Colmes, for instance. The situation isn't all bad. Chuck D is actually still doing alot of positive projects, he's just not as visible as before.

2. I realized that the Rumi poetry event I went to the other day had the highest concentration of white people of almost any event I've been to since moving to Miami.

3. I don't think I'm going to come up with anything deep or new on this issue, but I'll just say that the doctrine of Quranic abbrogation has often stuck me as odd. It is bizzare to think that there are verses in the Quran which are meant to be read, studied and recited for the past 1400 years, from the time they were revealed to now, and from now until Judgement Day, but they are only legally valid for a period of 20 years or so. Maybe more on this later.

4. I recently picked up the book Jesus for President: politics for ordinary radicals by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw. It is a pretty good read so far. The authors seem to be advocating a kind of hippie liberation theology. The book takes many of its visual cues from the 'zines while the text highlights many of the ways in which the Jewish and Christian writings take a critical stance towards conventional secular ideals of kingdom and empire.

5. I just went to a Borders and discovered a new Boondocks book which I hadn't known about before: All the Rage: The Boondocks Past and Present (nice).

See also:
second things second
"armageddon has been in effect... go get a late pass!" (part one)
what has hip-hop really done for racism?
Sunni Forum: Hanafi Doctrine of Naskh (Abrogation)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

chicago mayor richard daley on obama - ayers

There are a lot of reasons that Americans are angry about Washington politics. And one more example is the way Senator Obama's opponents are playing guilt-by-association, tarring him because he happens to know Bill Ayers.

I also know Bill Ayers. He worked with me in shaping our now nationally-renowned school reform program. He is a nationally-recognized distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois/Chicago and a valued member of the Chicago community.

I don't condone what he did 40 years ago but I remember that period well. It was a difficult time, but those days are long over. I believe we have too many challenges in Chicago and our country to keep re-fighting 40 year old battles.

assorted bits

I feel like quickly sharing a couple of quick items which have been on my mind rather than doing extended blogging on any one of them.

1. I don't think any reasonable person believes for a second that Obama believes that the U.S. government invented HIV/AIDS in a laboratory so why would it even matter if his ex-pastor believes it?

2. Similarly, Obama clearly doesn't believe that bombing government buildings is an acceptable way to change government policy and the Weatherman were from over 40 years ago so why is Ayers an issue today?

3. Maybe its just me, but on my planet Hillary Clinton's comment that "Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again" is orders of magnitude more offensive than the "bitter" comment and may even be the biggest gaffe made by a candidate in the election so far.


4. I recently bought the Pitch Black trilogy on DVD (see islamo-futurism?) Other than the Dune books, it is the only non-trivial portrayal of Muslims in the future of which I'm aware. Also Vin Diesel is kind of badass. InshaAllah, I'll start watching the first one this Sunday afternoon.

5. Finally, check out Third Resurrection. I updated it yesterday. Recently I've only been able to add entries in spurts. It was gratifying to see that Blackamerican Muslim bloggers are talking about issues related to "Third Resurrection" (in the loose sense of the blog). But I do kind of wish that members would add posts on their own (hint, hint) Still, I'm glad that the bloggers out there are dealing with serious , meaningful topics.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

the philosophy of ahmed abdul-malik

From The Manrilla Blog:

The following is an article about the Sudanese bassist and composer, Ahmed Abdul-Malik, that was originally published in Down Beat Magazine, July 4th, 1963. The article was written by Bill Coss. Beyond an excellent insight into the workings of a master musician, Abdul-Malik ties the thread between knowing the Creator and knowing one’s world. Given Modernity’s fractured vision on the relation of things, Abdul-Malik’s words are erudite and moving. He was also a stellar musician of world-class calibre. Hat tip to Doug Benson for the resource. May Allah have mercy on his soul.

In some degree, all music is about something. But what it is about, its contents, differs widely and generally determines its essential worth.

For composer Ahmed Abdul-Malik the content encompasses all the sciences. particularly the sociological, ethnic, and theological. The easiest thing to say would be that Abdul-Malik is different from most jazz musicians, and both his brief biography and the development of his thought immediately show that difference, while at the same time serving as a primer for youngsters who might aspire to be what Abdul-Malik considers the complete musician.

All his conscious development has come from religious convictions. “People think I am too far out with religion,’ he said. “But it is so necessary to know the Creator, to know the rules of being - what it means - to know the commandments, to know you are commanded to use your intellect and will… That allows you to advance in all subjects. How else can you know about life? And music is life. (read whole article at The Manrilla blog)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

no le pegue a la negra (rebelion)

At first I was going to argue that Joe Arroyo's Salsa classic, No le pegue a la negra, was too understated in terms of criticizing racism (along the lines of Ismael Rivera's Negro Bembon). But then as I started to get this blog entry together I changed my mind and decided that it has more of an "edge" to it, but it still isn't at the level of I Shot the Sheriff.

Quiero cantarle mi hermano un pedazito
de la historia negra,
de la historia nuestra caballero y dice asi:

En los anos 1600
Cuando el tirano mando
Las calles de Cartagena
Aquella historia vivio

Cuando aqui
Llegaban esos negreros
Africanos en cadenas
Besaban mi tierra
Esclavitud perpetua

Esclavitud perpetua
Esclavitud perpetua

Que lo diga Salome
Ucatele Eh.
Chango, Chango, Chango, Chango.

Un matrinomio africano
Esclavos de un espanol
El les daba muy mal trato
Y a su negra le pego
Y fue alli
Se revelo el Negro guapo
Tomo venganza por su amor
Y aun se escucha en la verja
No le pegue a mi negra

No le pegue a la negra
No le pegue a la negra

see also:
negro bembon
mami el negro esta rabioso (el africano)

how jesus became christian

I recently finished reading How Jesus Became Christian by Barrie Wilson, Ph.D. The book wasn't half-bad but to be honest, I really wasn't impressed. The book was a bit repetitive. And even though I agreed with many of its claims, I didn't find the book very compelling and wished that Wilson gave a stronger argument. For a more detailed and thorough study of some of this material I would recommend Robert H. Eisenman's James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls or the writings of Geza Vermes

The central point of How Jesus Became Christian is the "radical" idea that Jesus (as) was Jewish. He was circumcised. He kept kosher. He observed the Sabbath and celebrated Passover. Basically, he was a Jewish rabbi who kept the Torah and taught his followers to do likewise. He had no intention of founding a new religion but was merely promoting a new understanding of the Torah among Jews.

If we accept the above, then that suggests that the Jewish Christian groups like the Ebionites, Nazarenes, 0r the Jerusalem Church led by James, the brother of Jesus are more faithful representatives of Jesus' teaching than the Pauline Christians which eventually became dominant. Another way to frame this is to say that, in certain respects, the more faithful followers of Jesus had more in common with modern-day Muslims than modern-day Christians.

Wilson then goes on to argue that Paul's version of Christianity was better able grow and survive because of its similarities it shared with the mystery religions which were then popular in the Hellenized ancient world.

If you've never heard any of this before, you might find this book illuminating. But if you have heard this before, I'd definitely recommend some of the more in-depth books out there instead.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

buddhist sufi

The Buddhist Sufi

Last night my soul ask a question of existence.
Why are you upside down with flames in your belly?
Happy, unhappy, indigo-orange like the sky?

Why are you an off-balance wobbling millstone,
like the Buddhist Sufi Ibrahim Balkhi?
who was king, beggar, buddha, and dervish?

Existence answers, All this was made
by the one who hides inside you.

You are like a beautiful new bride,
quick to anger, stubborn,
hot, naked, but still veiled.

When I went to the Rumi event this past Friday, I actually met an Afro-Latino "Buddhist Sufi" (or to be more precise, he described himself as a bee who takes from more than one flower). He reminded me of the Zensunnis from the Dune novels. In fact, just last week I was thinking about them and asking myself how tennable that particular form of syncretism would be.

Dune Quotes
guess who's coming to dharma
religion in science fiction

drugs, inner cities and the us government

I think that some folks have a hard time believing in conspiracy theories because they tend to imagine them only in their most cartoonish versions. As if one morning they had a CIA staff meeting and some guy writes up on a dry-erase board:
Brainstorm: How to keep the Black man down
Idea #1 Introduce drugs into the inner-city
Idea #2 Invent AIDS
Idea #3 Kill Biggie
Idea #4 Kill Tupac (for real this time)
Idea #5 Put Jar-Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace

The real conspiracies tend to be a bit more complex than that. Ronald Reagan wanted to fight Communism in Latin America, especially Nicaragua, so he gives support to the Contras. In 1982 the Boland amendment is passed by the US Congress which makes it illegal to give military aid to the Contras. So if you are a staunch anti-Communist and still want to give funds to the Contras, then that leaves illegal means of support. A quick and effective way to do that (especially if you have the power to tell the drug enforcement bodies to look the other way) is to sell drugs. And if you are a staunch anti-Communist then the benefits of overthrowing the Sandinistas will outweigh the negative blowback (which will mostly blow back onto Blacks anyway). And so it goes...

Salon: How John Kerry exposed the Contra-cocaine scandal

hiv/aids and the us government

So let me be clear... Do I believe that the U.S. government invented HIV/AIDS in a laboratory in order to commit genocide against Black people? Nope. I haven't seen the evidence to support it. But I also don't think the theory is so implausible that anyone advocating it should considered a pariah in terms of the political conversation in the US. Here are a couple of items to consider:

1. The Tuskegee Experiment (aka Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male). For a period of 40 years, a group of 600 Black sharecroppers were systematically lied to by the government as a part of an unethical study . 201 were lucky enough to be in the control group. The other 399 had syphilis, but received no medical treatment for the disease. Instead, the subjects were told they had something called "bad blood" and that for participating in the study they could get free medical care, occasional meals, and money for a burial if they died during the course of the study.

As far as I know, the subjects weren't directly infected with syphilis, but in the course of the study 40 spouses became infected and 19 children were born with congenital syphilis. I'd read about the Tuskegee experiment many years ago, but after reviewing the event (in the wake of the whole Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy) I was struck by the length of the study and the extent to which the doctors (people who presumably had to take the Hippocratic oath) chose to actively deceive the sharecroppers throughout to keep it going. I was also surprised to learn that even during the last few years of the study when some of the ethical criticisms were becoming more vocal, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) wanted to keep the experiment going until the bitter end (i.e. the death of all of the subjects.)

So the fact that government-funded doctors would be willing to engage in such a sustained exercise in unethical, immoral and dishonest behavior certainly lends a certain amount of credibility to the HIV/AIDS conspiracy theory.

2. But what would the motivation be? Hat-tip to Sondjata at Garvey's Ghost for pointing me to this.

In Henry Kissinger's report "Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for US Security & Overseas Interests," written for The White House National Security Council in December 10, 1974, Kissinger writes:
"Depopulation should be the highest priority of US foreign policy towards the Third World. Reduction of the rate of population in these states is a matter of vital US national security. The US economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less-developed countries. That fact gives the US enhanced interests in the political, economic and social stability of the supplying countries. Wherever a lessening of population can increase the prospects for such stability, population policy becomes relevant to resources, supplies and the economic interest of the United States."

In fact, even if we reject the claim that HIV is man-made, if Kissinger's words are taken to heart we could ask what role this "highest priority of US foreign policy towards the Third World" plays in shaping the US response to HIV in Africa. More generally we could also start to examine US actions in other global hot spots and view them in the light of Kissinger's concern.

3. Another little known fact is that a small segment of the human population possess genetic attributes which provide a certain amount of resistance to HIV. Some individuals seem to have the ability to be exposed to the virus over and over again without getting infected.

The interesting bit is that the most powerful forms of genetic resistance are almost exclusively found in European populations.
An estimated 1 percent of people descended from Northern Europeans are virtually immune to AIDS infection, with Swedes the most likely to be protected. One theory suggests that the mutation developed in Scandinavia and moved southward with Viking raiders.

In other words, people of European descent will tend to have some genetic resistance to HIV while those of African descent will tend to have none. (A feature one would expect if HIV were designed to kill Black folks).

4. Chris Rock on AIDS

5, 6, ... So I'm going to stop here but I'll just quickly throw out that the US government still conducts biological weapons research and has been known to carry out an experiment or two on citizens without our consent. Furthermore, there have also been a number of recent ethical lapses in how drug companies conduct drug tests in Africa (a la The Constant Gardner) which definitely calls into question the extent to which it is possible for the medical establishment to show disregard for Black lives, especially when profits are at stake.

That's it for now... make up your own mind...draw your own conclusions...

NPR: Remembering the Tuskegee Experiment
Dallasnews.com: Obama pastor Jeremiah Wright's incendiary quotes illuminate chasm between races
Wired: Genetic HIV Resistance Deciphered
Garvey's Ghost: Did the Government Create HIV?
PLoS Biology: The Geographic Spread of the CCR5 Δ32 HIV-Resistance Allele
The Straight Dope: Is AIDS a man made disease?
The Nation: 'The Constant Gardener': What the Movie Missed

Saturday, May 03, 2008

children running through

I used to be shy
You made me sing.

I used to refuse things at the table.
Now I shout for more wine.

In somber dignity, I used to sit
on my mat and pray.

Now children run through
and make faces at me.


This weekend has been rather poetic so far. Today I went to a youth poetry workshop (I work with kids as a part of my job). And yesterday I went to the local Unity Church which had a modest Middle Eastern meal followed by a peformance of Rumi's poetry accompanied by drum, flute and harp. Let's see what tomorrow will be like.