Khan: Who Apologizes For the Other Drone Victims?

Freelance Journalist Nida Khan

Journalist Nida Khan

A little over a week ago, a somber President Obama delivered early morning remarks on the tragic deaths of Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto, two hostages who were accidentally killed by U.S. drone strikes in the tribal regions of Pakistan.  It was a rare moment for several reasons:  the President openly acknowledged the loss of these men through a covert program, and he took personal responsibility for all of our counter terrorism operations, including these recent ones.  But as he offered condolences to the families of Weinstein and Lo Porto, and promised a thorough review of intelligence failures, the President opened himself up to criticism of an unmanned aerial program that has killed thousands – including thousands of civilians according to some reports – in a host of countries.

The question remains, who apologizes and takes full responsibility for the deaths of those innocents?  Do the dead, maimed and devastated children, women and men who had nothing to do with either terrorism or our war on terror deserve recognition by someone that their lives mattered as well?  When drones are dropped in nations where we have not declared war and little, if any, information is released to the public, the message we are once again sending is that only the lives of Westerners matter and that the lives of other civilians are simply expendable.

President Obama 50th anniversaryShortly after being sworn into office in 2009, one of the first decisions President Obama made was to increase and expand our drone campaigns.  In fact, he exponentially increased strikes in places like Pakistan, and later to countries like Yemen, Somalia and more.  According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, in just five years, President Obama launched 330 strikes on Pakistan, whereas President Bush conducted only 51 strikes in four years.  While President Bush was an obvious hawk who took the nation into an unnecessary war in Iraq under false pretenses, the notion that Obama is some sort of peacemaker is inaccurate at best.

Yes, it’s better for our troops when bombs can be dropped with the push of a button in Nevada or elsewhere.  Yes, fewer lives are lost in a drone strike than with traditional bombing or ground invasions.  But the idea that drones don’t kill hundreds (some argue thousands) of civilians is preposterous.  And the expansion of the drone program to a multitude of nations not only goes against our stated ideals of bringing stability to the world, but it tremendously increases anti-American sentiment in those countries and in areas that sympathize with them

DronesIn 2010, I traveled to Pakistan and witnessed the rise in anti-American attitudes firsthand.  While our popular culture was still being absorbed by the population through music, movies, food, etc., there was also a clearly visible segment of disaffected youth and adults who grew increasingly angry at U.S. intrusion.  Virtually every morning, headlines in major newspapers and newscasts led with captions citing the number of civilians killed from American drone strikes.  Pictures of dead children and mothers were regularly viewed by the public, and it’s no coincidence that as the strikes rose, so too did the anti-American feeling on the ground.

The Guardian published a piece in November of 2014 with some startling figures regarding civilian casualties.  According to the article, on October 15, 2010, Hellfire missiles fired from a drone killed the deputy commander of the Pakistani Taliban, but in the process of doing so, they also killed 127 others – 13 of them children.  The piece also cites data from human-rights group Reprieve stating that attempts to kill 41 men resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,147 people (

Drone protestorSuch tragic realities aren’t confined to Pakistan alone.  Who can forget the December 2013 incident when a drone accidentally struck a wedding convoy in Yemen killing a dozen or more?  And when we conduct drone strikes in several countries including Somalia, Libya, Mali, Afghanistan and more, the number of casualties is difficult to comprehend especially when they aren’t even considered murders.  The deaths of these civilians are simply swept under the rug of ‘collateral damage’, and we are therefore able to wipe our hands clean of what is clearly murder plain and simple.

The New York Times recently printed a piece titled ‘U.S. Attacks in Afghanistan Go Beyond White House’s Pledges’, and in that article, the following sentence summarizes the situation:  “Rather than ending the American war in Afghanistan, the military is using its wide latitude to instead transform it into a continuing campaign of airstrikes — mostly drone missions — and Special Operations raids that have in practice stretched or broken the parameters publicly described by the White House.”  Will the public ever receive an accounting of how many civilians we killed during this process?  Likely not.

It wasn’t that long ago when President Obama proudly proclaimed our counter terrorism victories in places like Yemen and Somalia.  Just last September, he stated:  “This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”  In fact, the President often touted Yemen as a perfect example of why droning works.  And now look at Yemen; it is more destabilized than ever.   Extremist factions there are arguably more powerful today than they were prior to our drone strikes.  Once again, the instability and abject chaos that is left following our intervention gives rise to more radicals and an opportunity for them to gain power.  For all the talk of getting terrorists where they hide and being proactive, what is the reward?

drone protestPresident Obama himself once said that when people get disillusioned or are frustrated, they may cling to their religion or guns.  The same can be said for people in areas where high poverty rates, lack of jobs, massive wealth gaps and unequal access to education and upward mobility plague society as it does in countries like Pakistan and Yemen.  When religion binds the majority of the population, and when they see outside forces attacking them and other Muslim-majority nations, it’s very easy for people to cling to their religion.

Several years had gone by before I went to Pakistan in 2010, and there was a visible difference in the environment – even in major cities.  In Karachi, the largest city, there were more conservative and religious folk roaming the streets than I can ever recall on previous trips.  There was increased tension in the air, and most residents were weary to congregate in crowded areas for fear of suicide attacks and bombings.  It’s important to note that prior to 9/11, there was only one suicide bombing in the entire country; but following our war on terror, they are now sadly a regular occurrence.

Drone ProtestsFor the people of Pakistan, accountability and answers for drone strikes and growing volatility have been few and far.  On the forefront, the Pakistani army and government denounce the drone campaign, but behind-the-scenes they often provide the launching pads from where drones take off and even sometimes supply coordinates.  The U.S. and Pakistani intelligence services, military and governments have a complicated and convoluted relationship; both publicly call the other out for failing to do enough, but both work together for mutually shared interests.  But what leaders of both nations fail to realize is that bombing people does more to fuel terror than to resolve it.

When a person loses an entire family because of a drone strike, who do you think they sympathize with?  When a village loses dozens of families, who do you think they begin to align themselves with?  When a nation sees regular images of dead countrymen, who do you think they hate?  When Muslims around the world only see Muslims dying through wars, covert actions, drone strikes and more, how hard is it for them to feel that they and their religion are under attack?  Couple this sense of alienation with poverty and diminished opportunities in many places, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Game of Drones It’s difficult to know the exact number of civilians killed by drones and there is much debate about it in newsrooms, at think tanks and in various political discussions.  For one, it is a clandestine program, and even when information is requested, those requests go largely unfulfilled.  Secondly, journalists who cover this topic are few and far.  Jeremy Scahill, one journalist who has focused on drone strikes extensively, recently pointed out in a piece for The Intercept, that a U.S. military base in Ramstein, Germany serves as “the high-tech heart of America’s drone program”.  According to his article and documents the Intercept apparently received, Ramstein is the site of a satellite relay station that enables drone operators in the U.S. to communicate with their remote aircraft in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and other countries.  And neither the U.S. nor Germany will admit to the existence of such a facility.

In 2013, President Obama gave a speech at National Defense University where he stated:  “before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.”  But in those same remarks he added that “it is a hard fact that U.S. strikes have resulted in civilian casualties” and that those deaths “will haunt us as long as we live”.  While those deaths may haunt the President and those in military and intelligence communities both here and abroad, they have traumatized and likely riled up families, neighborhoods and public sentiment in multiple countries.  So much for winning the hearts and minds of people.

“It is a cruel and bitter truth that in the fog of war generally and our fight against terrorists specifically, mistakes — sometimes deadly mistakes — can occur,” said the President last week.  “But one of the things that sets America apart from many other nations, one of the things that makes us exceptional is our willingness to confront squarely our imperfections and to learn from our mistakes.”

One of our greatest imperfections in recent times has been our inability to acknowledge and take responsibility for innocent casualties from our drone strikes.  If we are to confront squarely our mistakes as the President so aptly stated, perhaps the families of drone victims deserve an apology and some sort of restitution.

After all, President Obama’s legacy may very well depend on it – as may the legacy of the United States itself.

written by Independent Journalist Nida Khan Follow her on twitter @NidaKhanNY

President Obama, Raul Castro, Mandela’s Memorial and the Handshake Seen Around the World

Obama handshakeSeems like more than a few folks are up in arms over President Obama shaking hands with Fidel Castro‘s brother Raul. For most of us its no big deal, friend or foe when someone is in your presence, the civil thing to do is nod hello, shake hands and keep it moving.. But when it comes to heads of state, some wanna give it extra meaning…

Granted some of the manufactured outrage is via far right forces who are no fans of Obama and will look for anything to score political points. For others it symbolizes a crack in what they may have hoped to be a permanent icy relationship between the US and Cuba..For others the handshake signals a possible new direction in relations between the two countries. For some the handshake from someone who says one thing and does another its meaningless..

Lets take a step back and examine a few things..First, the world was at a memorial for a man who everyone has hyped up for his ability to forgive and break bread and find redemptive qualities with his enemies..If Mandela can make peace with the Dutch Afrikaners who did unthinkable horrors and the world is praising him at a his funeral for that deed, what the hell is wrong with folks getting all upset when gestures of acknowledgement are made? Have a freaking seat and stop crying..

If forgiveness and diplomacy are the orders of the day and that’s what everyone is pushing, then let everyone follow such dictates from top to bottom. That means the gang bangers on the street can shake hands and find other ways to settle differences. It means heads of states can find forgiveness with one another.

If folks can heap praise on forgiving the systemic and brutal horrors of Afrikaners, than those same folks can find forgiveness in those who fought them ie Winnie Mandela..Lets talk about that…

If the British Prime Minister David Cameron can show up, take selfies with Obama and the Prime Minister of Denmark and be the first to send condolences to Mandela even though 20 years ago he wanted to execute him, then he can make peace and find redemption with Robert Mugabe especially after he got a standing ovation, that no one wants to talk about..

On the other hand if we are going to play the card that a handshake with someone we don’t like or perceived as doing egregious wrongs, then let us all have a seat at the table and not allow a few disgruntled politicos like Ted Cruz be the only ones who get to say who the president gets to shake hands with and who he can’t….

I’m sure many of us in a perfect world don’t want Obama shaking hands with Wall Street bankers who bilked this country for trillions and tanked our economy..Many of us who are watching corporate powers make moves to further privatize the commons.. would like it if the president shun all of them and stop dealing with lobbyist who he said he would avoid when he ran he first ran for office..

Many of us don’t want him shaking hands with Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel who skipped Mandela’s funeral and overseas what many consider an apartheid like state when it comes to its Palestinian population and in more recent days its African immigrant population.. Plus Israel backed the Apartheid government.. How about Obama not shake hands with him or any of her leaders?

Many of us would be perfectly ok if Obama not shake the hands of Russian president Vladimir Putin especially since he pushed for the anti-gay law in his country..Many are not too keen on the crack downs he oversees when there is dissent. We already know there are forces upset that Russia gave former NSA contractor Edward Snowden asylum and are pushing for the president to hold back his hand on that tip..How about the President hold back on human rights violations?

Speaking of human rights violations, since folks are upset with the President for shaking hands with Raul Castro citing human rights concerns, would those same folks be upset if there were folks who refused to shake hands with president Obama because of his own human rights violations.. It would be great that if the President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain, refused to shake hands with Obama because of all the unmanned drone strikes that besiege his country..

If any head of state in Africa upset about Africom refuses to shake Obama’s hand would that be considered rude and undignified? Would it be wrong if the refuse to shake his hand in light of him leading the charge to kill President Gaddafi as the US interests took over Libya??

What about any of the heads of state from Latin American countries that have found themselves being targeted and undermined by US policies?

Would folks be up in arms if President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela or President Evo Morales of Bolivia refused to shake hands with Obama. Certainly Morales has good cause after his plane was detained for 14 hours when rumors spread that he might be housing Edward Snowden..

We did see the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff bite her tongue and shake President Obama’s hand even though she was majorly pissed upon discovering she her phone calls were being listened to via the NSA and Obama’s policy..

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 10.07.10 AMIn any case the handshake has gotten folks buzzing the same way the President’s body language, his wife’s side eyed glances and him taking selfies with fellow world leaders. Some are arguing that we should not be too quick to jump to conclusions about him taking pictures and that too many people are erroneously reading into his wife, First Lady Michele Obama‘s facial expressions. We are told its trivial and pictures don’t convey all that’s really going on.. We’ll if that’s the case, maybe we are all reading too much into a handshake which is somehow deemed more important because a few Senators and some political minded folks are talking..

Maybe its just a harmless handshake, the same way a nod and smile one gives upon seeing someone. Maybe the playful selfie and side eye glances were harmless as well.. But in the event that these aforementioned gestures have deeper meaning, President Obama better watch whose hand he’s shaking and his wife should start wearing sun glasses so we cant see if she’s approving or disapproving..

Even better why don’t we lift the sanctions in Cuba find bold creative ways to engage our neighbors where its a win for the people who never get to shake any of these leaders hands.. If there were no sanctions and people were true to ideals they kept upholding about Nelson Mandela, this handshake seen around the world would be a non issue …

Obama & His Supporters Are Going All Out to Make War w/ Syria a Reality

Melissa Harris Perry

Melissa Harris Perry

Yesterday I watched Melissa Harris Perry on her MSNBC show look into a camera with a straight face and run this argument about how we the public are frequently wrong about our decisions to oppose rushing off to war.. She gave a historical overview dating back to World War II and talked about how the public was opposed war back then but decades later it would be hard to find anyone who would argue that entering into World War II was the wrong thing to do..

Perry then paints a picture of how America prospered after WWII and how things were all rosey…After that she magically leaps over public opinion about various other war and threats of war efforts from the Korean War to Cuban Missile Crisis to Vietnam to Grenada etc to talk about how the public came out and supported Bush’s rush to war and got that wrong..

Hence she implies the pattern is such that even though 51% of the public polled is opposed to bombing Syria, we are probably wrong on this as we were during WW II.  If I hadn’t seen this and then re-saw it on the clip I posted below would’ve thought one was lying if they told me Ms perry did this.. To say the least this was ‘fascinating’ to watch and gravely disappointing she took such a ‘hawkish’ position..

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So apparently this looks to be the new Obama talking point: Tell the people; ‘yes the public is opposed to war but the public is often wrong’ .. And to underscore this talking point we now have this compilation of footage already floating around the internet that’s been repackaged by the CIA and presented to members of Congress and local newscasts as ‘new footage‘ showing dead bodies and children gasping for air as a result of chemical weapons.

Here in Cali Senator Diane Feinstein got one of these repackaged films and personally called local Bay Area TV stations asking them to run it so the public can see what’s ‘really’ going on in Syria.. MHP referenced this footage on her show  and asked what are we gonna do about this atrocity, as if the only answer is to bomb Syria..The footage shown below is similar to what we saw on local newscasts last night and what’s in the package being shown to members of Congress.

You can link here to see the actual repackaged version

After Melissa Harris Perry’s  history lesson  one of her guests syndicated columnist Bob Franken said if we don’t do anything we are giving up our position as the world super power and we will sink further in world standing because of upcoming sequester cuts..His remarks seem to imply that  ultimately US actions are not about saving lives it’s about saving money, saving face and maintaining prestige..

Another MHP guest Michelle Bernard, a political strategist was using her ‘strategy’ to tell us that President Obama was always a ‘dove’ while former secretary of state Hillary Clinton was a ‘hawk‘, implying that somehow our President who is a frequent user of drones which are considered tools of terror around the world, to the tune of at least 300 times in Pakistan alone, was ‘reluctant’ to come to this bomb dropping position on Syria he’s pushing…

Racist People are suspicious of President Obama, with or without a hoodie

President Obama is being depicted as a reluctant warrior in this Syrian Crises

Obama has been pretty decisive even as a candidate about using pre-emptive strikes and violating laws by using drones on foreign soil without permission or knowledge of the government in that land. He said he would do it as a candidate and he’s been doing it as president. The only regret President Obama seems to have is that his decision to bomb Syria might bring about a political backlash including impeachment hence he’s being depicted as a sympathetic figure.

What we should be clear about is that President Obama is going all out to make this bombing situation happen. This is his biggest push since his Healthcare Initiative.. That’s how important bombing Syria is to President Obama..Imagine if he went in this hard to bring about Peace?

Bernard in her remarks attempted to amp up the ‘outrage’ by noting; ‘yes the children being gassed are bad, but what’s really bad are the rapes that are also happening. She leaves of us concluding that the US must intervene to stop the rapes..Talk about pulling emotional chords.

Let’s be clear folks.. Children being gassed are horrific, indefensible actions. People being raped are horrific, indefensible  actions. No one with half a conscious wants to be attached to any of this, but before we go running off to the missile launchers to bomb Syria ask yourself what role are we as individuals supposed to play to stop such horrors directly and indirectly? We must challenge ourselves as to what roles we play directly and indirectly in the facilitation of rapes and children being killed not just in Syria but in other areas around the world.

Are we outraged about child soldiers?

Are we outraged about child soldiers? Enough to give up our cell phones & laptops?

For example, take a place like the Congo where an estimated 6 million people have been killed over the past decade and hundreds of thousands rapes and the deaths and maiming of thousands children are taking place routinely to ensure we have access to precious minerals that are used in our laptops, smart phones and other electronics.

Such atrocities continue in spite of the amendment put into Dodd Frank Protection Act which many had no idea about or even cared that in theory would push for companies to be conflict mineral free. Many say that amendment is weak and full of holes. Do we care or did it serves as a nice excuse to avoid dealing with a harsh reality and our collective conscience?

Genocide continues to this day in the Congo. Where’s our outrage  and national debate both in Congress and amongst ourselves calling for it to end?  Many are quick to talk about international law and how it needs to be enforced around the use of chemical weapons but are nowhere to be seen about the use of child soldiers which number in the hundreds of thousands used on the front lines in the Congo conflict.

We must ask ourselves where is the outrage and what is our responsibility about all the Black people being raped and tortured by the racist rebel forces that we supported who took over Libya? Why is that not even talked about? Why are we not talking about the fact that many of those same brutal rebel forces in Libya are now among the rebel forces in Syria?

If we are and should be upset about rapes as noted on this MHP Show, then ask yourself, what’s our thoughts about Egypt? Are we demanding Congress stop funding folks over there knowing that it was less than a month ago our collective conversation was on the drama unfolding  including widespread reports of rapes? That is still going on. Have we forgotten or did we think that all those problems somehow got resolved overnight in time for us to have this debate about Syria?

White Prophorous GasIf we are to be upset and down to go on the offensive for the use of chemical weapons, what’s our take on the use of white phosphorous used on Palestinians in Gaza in 2009 by Israel? Was there a call to bomb her or did we as a country ignore it?  Or did the US find ways to work things out diplomatically?

In recent days since this contradiction in policy and subsequent action was pointed out the government of Israel has been on a PR tear sanitizing what took place and insisting that media outlets no longer call white phosphorous chemical weapons. Yesterday the UK Observer which is owned by the Guardian agreed to Israel’s demands after what was described as a ‘degree of give and take’.

All of us have to wrestle with our own decisions and moral compasses about what atrocities we will jump up to fight and which ones we will ignore? As I asked in previous articles; are we upset that 100 thousand people have been killed in Syria including tens of thousands of children or are we upset that certain types of weapons that fit a strict definition that deem them chemicals were used?

In other words, if Assad had simply shot, stabbed, drowned, used white phosphorous gas or perhaps used drones like we do in the US, resulting in 1400 people dying would there be a debate in Congress or would it be business as usual for most Americans? Is this really about the use of nerve gas or something else? Does it matter that England sold Syria the key materials sodium fluoride used to make chemical weapons?  Think on that for minute..

We should be very careful about jumping into a civil war..The so called rebels in Syria are not a bunch of sign waving beleaguered college students who are being pushed around.. They are armed, well-trained professional militia types fighting other armed and well-trained militia types over who will control a country..There are lots of forces both inside and outside the country vying for power..Caught in the middle are folks who have no peace at all from either side..Whoever wins does not mean an end to oppression for the average person on the ground.. That’s not a discussion being held..Talks about peace and how we can at all cost find a diplomatic solution were not emphatically discussed both on MHP show and in other circles where pundits are telling us that what the public thinks about War is often wrong..

Lastly there are hundreds of Syrians who live here in America.. What I saw yesterday were 5 people on MSNBC talk about bombing a country and why the public is somehow ‘wrong’ to oppose war without any Syrians to speak for themselves.. I like folks like journalists Faria Chideya and Michelle Bernard seems nice, Same with Bob Franken? and former congressional rep Patrick Murphy but are they from Syria? Have they been there? Stay woke people, Stay Woke 24/7!!!

You Can’t Bomb the World into Peace..Power to the Peaceful

In the meantime here’s a Syrian-American we recently interviewed named May Alhassen whose immediate family is still in Syria. In our recent interview she was candid about how she is opposed to US Intervention.. and how her family in Syria is divide on this issue for a number of reasons…She’s a seasoned journalist who perhaps should’ve been on that panel.. Peep out what she has to say..

Looking Back at Huey Newton’s Thoughts on Gay Rights…In the Wake of Obama’s Endorsement

This was a speech given August 15 1970 by Huey Newton co-founder of the Black Panther he addresses the issue of Gay Rights… Its serious food for thought coming in the aftermath of President Obama endorsing Same-sex Message…

Huey Newton

During the past few years strong movements have developed among women and among homosexuals seeking their liberation. There has been some
uncertainty about how to relate to these movements.

Whatever your personal opinions and your insecurities about
homosexuality and the various liberation movements among homosexuals
and women (and I speak of the homosexuals and women as oppressed
groups), we should try to unite with them in a revolutionary fashion.
I say ” whatever your insecurities are” because as we very well know,
sometimes our first instinct is to want to hit a homosexual in the
mouth, and want a woman to be quiet. We want to hit a homosexual in
the mouth because we are afraid that we might be homosexual; and we
want to hit the women or shut her up because we are afraid that she
might castrate us, or take the nuts that we might not have to start

We must gain security in ourselves and therefore have respect and
feelings for all oppressed people. We must not use the racist attitude
that the White racists use against our people because they are Black
and poor. Many times the poorest White person is the most racist
because he is afraid that he might lose something, or discover
something that he does not have. So you’re some kind of a threat to
him. This kind of psychology is in operation when we view oppressed
people and we are angry with them because of their particular kind of
behavior, or their particular kind of deviation from the established

Remember, we have not established a revolutionary value system; we are
only in the process of establishing it. I do not remember our ever
constituting any value that said that a revolutionary must say
offensive things towards homosexuals, or that a revolutionary should
make sure that women do not speak out about their own particular kind
of oppression. As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite: we say
that we recognize the women’s right to be free. We have not said much
about the homosexual at all, but we must relate to the homosexual
movement because it is a real thing. And I know through reading, and
through my life experience and observations that homosexuals are not
given freedom and liberty by anyone in the society. They might be the
most oppresed people in the society.

And what made them homosexual? Perhaps it’s a phenomenon that I don’t
understand entirely. Some people say that it is the decadence of
capitalism. I don’t know if that is the case; I rather doubt it. But
whatever the case is, we know that homosexuality is a fact that
exists, and we must understand it in its purest form: that is, a
person should have the freedom to use his body in whatever way he

That is not endorsing things in homosexuality that we wouldn’t view as
revolutionary. But there is nothing to say that a homosexual cannot
also be a revolutionary. And maybe I’m now injecting some of my
prejudice by saying that “even a homosexual can be a revolutionary.”
Quite the contrary, maybe a homosexual could be the most

When we have revolutionary conferences, rallies, and demonstrations,
there should be full participation of the gay liberation movement and
the women’s liberation movement. Some groups might be more
revolutionary than others. We should not use the actions of a few to
say that they are all reactionary or counterrevolutionary, because
they are not.

We should deal with the factions just as we deal with any other group
or party that claims to be revolutionary. We should try to judge,
somehow, whether they are operating in a sincere revolutionary fashion
and from a really oppressed situation. (And we will grant that if they
are women they are probably oppressed.) If they do things that are
unrevolutionary or counterrevolutionary, then criticize that action.
If we feel that the group in spirit means to be revolutionary in
practice, but they make mistakes in interpretation of the
revolutionary philosophy, or they do not understand the dialectics of
the social forces in operation, we should criticize that and not
criticize them because they are women trying to be free. And the same
is true for homosexuals. We should never say a whole movement is
dishonest when in fact they are trying to be honest. They are just
making honest mistakes. Friends are allowed to make mistakes. The
enemy is not allowed to make mistakes because his whole existence is a
mistake, and we suffer from it. But the women’s liberation front and
gay liberation front are our friends, they are our potential allies,
and we need as many allies as possible.

We should be willing to discuss the insecurities that many people have
about homosexuality. When I say “insecurities,” I mean the fear that
they are some kind of threat to our manhood. I can understand this
fear. Because of the long conditioning process which builds insecurity
in the American male, homosexuality might produce certain hang-ups in
us. I have hang-ups myself about male homosexuality. But on the other
hand, I have no hang-up about female homosexuality. And that is a
phenomenon in itself. I think it is probably because male
homosexuality is a threat to me and female homosexuality is not.

We should be careful about using those terms that might turn our
friends off. The terms “faggot” and “punk” should be deleted from our
vocabulary, and especially we should not attach names normally
designed for homosexuals to men who are enemies of the people, such as
Nixon or Mitchell. Homosexuals are not enemies of the people.

We should try to form a working coalition with the gay liberation and
women’s liberation groups. We must always handle social forces in the
most appropriate manner.

Here are the Civil Rights Orgs that Sold Out the People to the Big Telecoms on Net Neutrality

We were sold out to the telecoms by those who were supposed to protect us!

Below is a list Anti-Network Neutrality filings by Civil Rights groups and organizations of color that sold out the community and backed the big telecom companies..We included their letters to the FCC that were requested on behalf of the big telecom companies.. AT&T, Verizon and Comcast.. These telecom companies spent almost a billion dollars in lobbying efforts..

These groups encouraged the telecoms to create a situation where the internet will no longer be an even playing field, but now its those who are rich, well connected and have political priviledge will have complete access and fast speeds while the rest of us will not..

When cell phone bills go up and you find that you have to pay extra money for what used to be basic services, be sure to remember these groups that sold you out big time.. Know their names.. Send them your bills and mark this date December 21 2010.. This is the day that the people were ‘snookered’ by those who were supposed to look out for them..

Lastly  words cannot began to express the profound disappointment with President Obama. He came out the box swinging on protecting Net Neutrality. H campaigned on protecting it.

 One of the reasons he won was because he was able to use the internet and reach young voters in a skillful way.. He instructed his FCC chair to back off a bit because the telecoms were applying pressure.  He basically sold us out big time and threw all those media advocates under the bus..

 Just so there’s no confusion, which is the game that many of these groups like to play … Here’s the deal.. The FCC agreed to keep Net neutrality in place for regular computers.. They agreed to let the wireless world be a place that is unregulated and will no longer have Net neutrality protection.. Why is this a big deal? because most people and especially poor people are on wireless communications..Here’s an article that explains how African Americans use the Internet

 This means if I have a website and i wish to make it accesible to you on your cell phone.. I now have to pay each of these big telecom companies.. If you wish to use Facebook, Youtube or Twitter, they need to pay the telcoms and you the user needs to pay them..  It goes down hill from there..

Here’s a short video explaining Net Neutrality 

When reading these letters dont get fooled by the flowery talk about providing access for all.. That was the buzz word to stiffle opposition and keep people confused. Similar language was used in 1996 with the Telecom Bill when Big media companies wanted to consolidate.

They said it would be a good thing and make radio and TV more accessible? We all see that hasn’t happned.. With respect to the Internet the Real Accessibility is being able to obtain information from wide variety of sources.. Basically these Civil Rights Groups sold us out and said we’ll leave the sources of News and information to come from hand picked sources by the  telecoms and maybe a few of these groups…Same deal was said about the Telcom Bill.. you see where that got us..   

 Urban League Chapter
National Lesbian and Gay Chamber of Commerce
Hispanic Federation
Latino community Foundation in San Francisco
Native Americans
NAACP in California
Rainbow Push
Texas State Rep. Robert Alonzo
MANA, A National Latino Organization
100 Black Men of South Metro
100 Black Men of Mobile
100 Black Men of Greater Mobile
100 Black Men of Tennessee
100 Black Men of Orlando
Hispanic Interests Coalition of Alabama
SER: Jobs for Progress
NAACP Mar-Saline Branch
Japanese American Citizens League
Organization of Chinese Americans
Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies
Rep. Yvette Clarke

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Our interview w/ KRS-One on Gospel of Hip Hop & President Obama

We caught up with KRS-One and talked to him about his new book The Gospel of Hip Hop.. we also talked to him about his thoughts on President Obama and the direction this country is headed.. Always colorful, always insightful, KRS gives us some food for thought

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Pres Obama’s FCC Throws Another Constituency Thrown Under The Bus-Big Showdown Dec 21

After campaigning as a champion of network neutrality, President Obama has decisively broken yet another promise. The FCC votes December 21 on rules proposed by the president’s FCC chairman which will begin the transformation of the free and open internet into somethning much more like cable TV, with corporate control over content, and hundreds or thousands of “channels”, but not much worth watching.

President Obama’s FCC Sells Out on Network Neutrality – Another Constituency Thrown Under The Bus

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Bruce Dixon

Never mind the big tent,” declared a cartoon by the artist Mike Fluggenock during the 2008 presidential campaign. “There’s room for all” the caption declared “under Obama’s Big Bus.” A full two years after that historic election, it’s hard to name any part of the Democratic party’s base constituencies that President Obama has not decisively betrayed. Last week gays, women, blacks, Latinos, the environment, the peace movement, labor, the unemployed and a host of others were joined beneath the speeding wheels of the Obama bus by those millions of Americans who believe greedy corporations should not control what we see, hear, write and communicate over the internet.

President Obama campaigned on the promise that he would take a back seat to nobody in guaranteeing the free and open internet. Two years out, it’s abundantly clear thatu the president lied to us, and to the American people on network neutrality.

The pending merger between Comcast and NBC would create a gigantic corporation with both the motive and means to privilege the delivery of its own content over the enormous fraction of the internet that they own, and to slow down, inhibit, or apply surcharges to content originating from outside. Neither the administration’s Justice Department or FCC have lifted a finger to oppose it. So-called compromise rules announced last week by Obama’s FCC Chairman Julius Genachowki pay only the faintest lip service to the concept that the internet should be a common carrier available to all, and provide vast loopholes for internet providers to apply punitive charges to content and content providers they disfavor.

Thanks to the Obama administration, which once enjoyed the enthusiastic support of the media justice community, greedy telecom corporations will at last have their wish — that the internet will become a lot more like cable TV — five hundred, or five thousand channels, but nothing worth watching. The proposed FCC regulations will allow corporations even more power to control and restrict the content delivered via wireless broadband internet, thought to be the internet delivery technology of the future. Needless to say, the telecom and cable companies are well pleased. Their paid stooges at the Alliance for Digital Equality, the Minority Media Telecommunications Council, LULAC, the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation and the NAACP, and the Congressional Black Caucus are raking in telecom donations and cranking out press releases assuring us that giving their benefactors more control over the internet will create jobs and opportunities for all of us little people.

The five member FCC is scheduled to vote on the proposed rule changes on December 21. Certainly chairman Genachowski will vote for his own rules. Amazingly, it is possible that the two Republican commissioners may not because they object to any regulation of corporations whatsoever. Commissioners Kopps and Clyburn, however, are still thought to be staunch supporters of network neutrality, and should be contacted by email, phone or fax and asked to oppose the Obama proposal to let corporations control what we see, hear and send over the internet. This is a case when doing nothing is better than anything already on the table. For more information on what you can do, visit That’s

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Bruce Dixon.

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President Obama Taps Singer Jon Bon Jovi to be a Affordable Housing Advisor

President Obama Announces Members of the White House Council for Community Solutions
WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Council for Community Solutions.  The Council will provide advice to the President on the best ways to mobilize citizens, nonprofits, businesses and government to work more effectively together to solve specific community needs. 
The President also announced his intent to appointthe following individuals to the White House Council for Community Solutions:
·         Patty Stonesifer, Chair, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Byron Auguste,Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Diana Aviv, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Paula Boggs, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Jon Bon Jovi,Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         John Bridgeland, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Jim Canales, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Scott Cowen, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         John Donahoe, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Michael Fleming, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         David Friedman, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Jim Gibbons, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Michele Jolin, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Michael Kempner, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Steven Lerner, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Maurice Lim Miller,Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Laurene Powell Jobs, Member,White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Norman Rice, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Kristin Richmond, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Judith Rodin, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Nancy H. Rubin, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Paul Schmitz, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Jill Schumann, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Bobbi Silten, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
·         Bill Strickland, Member, White House Council for Community Solutions
President Obama said, “These impressive men and women have dedicated their lives and careers to civic engagement and social innovation.  I commend them for their outstanding contributions to their communities, and I am confident that they will serve the American people well in their new roles on the White House Council for Community Solutions.  I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”
In addition to providing advice to the President on solving specific community needs, the White House Council for Community Solutions has been tasked with three key functions: enlisting leaders in the non-profit, private, and philanthropic sectors to make progress on key policy goals; providing strategic input and recommendations to help the federal government promote greater innovation and cross-sector collaboration; and honoring and highlighting those making a significant impact in their own communities.  The Council will be composed of leaders from non-profits, corporations and foundations who are committed to social innovation and civic engagement. 

President Obama announced his intent to appointthe following individuals to the White House Council forCommunity Solutions


Patty Stonesifer

Patty Stonesifer, Appointee for Chair, White House Council for Community Solutions

Patty Stonesifer currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Regents for the Smithsonian Institution.  As the former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (1997-2008), Ms. Stonesifer continues her involvement with the Foundation as a Senior Advisor.  Prior to helping establish the Gates Foundation, Ms. Stonesifer had a two-decade career in technology, with her latest role as Senior Vice President at Microsoft Corp.  Ms. Stonesifer serves as a private philanthropic Advisor and sits on the boards of The Broad Institute and the Center for Global Development.  She has also served on the boards of the Seattle Foundation, the GAVI Fund, Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa (DATA), and ONE.  Ms. Stonesifer is a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, Council on Foreign Relations and was a member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations General Assembly Special Sessions on AIDS.  In July 1996, Time Magazine named her as one of the 25 Most Influential People in America.  Ms. Stonesifer holds a B.G.S degree from Indiana University and honorary degrees from both Indiana University and Tufts University.
Byron Auguste, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Byron Auguste is a senior partner at McKinsey & Company in Washington DC., where he primarily works in the fields of high technology, information- and services-based businesses, education, and economic development.   Mr. Auguste also serves as Director of McKinsey’s Global Social Sector Office, which works with institutions in the private, public, and non-profit sectors worldwide.  He previously spent fourteen years in McKinsey’s Los Angeles Office, where he was elected Principal in 1999 and Director in 2005.  Prior to that, Mr. Auguste worked as an economist at the African Development Bank, LMC International, and Oxford University.   He is the co-founder and board chairman of Hope Street Group, a nationwide, nonpartisan, volunteer organization of professionals, executives, and entrepreneurs developing and promoting public policies.  Mr. Auguste also serves on the Board of Directors of the Pacific Council on International Policy, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Board of Trustees of the Center for American Progress, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  He holds a B.A. in economics and political science from Yale University, where he was chosen as a Truman Scholar, and a M. Phil. and D.Phil. in economics from Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar.
Diana Aviv, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Diana Aviv is President and CEO of the Independent Sector, a leadership network representing thousands of nonprofits, foundations and corporate giving programs.  Prior to that, Ms. Aviv was Vice President for Public Policy and Director of the Washington Action Office of the Jewish Federations of North America.  In her career, she has also served as Associate Executive Vice Chair at the Jewish Council of Public Affairs and Director of Programs for the National Council of Jewish Women.  Ms. Aviv is an advisory committee and board member of many nonprofit organizations including GuideStar USA, the National Council on Aging, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, the Comptroller General’s Advisory Board, and the National Center on Philanthropy and the Law.  She previously served on the Board of Governors of the Partnership for Public Service, and the Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents’ Committee on Governance.  Ms. Aviv is former Chair of the Board for the National Immigration Forum.  She holds a B.S. degree from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa and an M.A. from Columbia University.
Paula Boggs, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Paula Boggs currently serves as the Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Starbucks Coffee Company.  Ms. Boggs also serves as Secretary of the Starbucks Foundation and is Washington’s State Delegate to the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates.  Prior to that, she was Vice President at Dell Computer Corporation (1997-2002), partner at Preston Gates & Ellis (now K& L Gates, 1995-1997), Staff Director for the Advisory Board on the Investigative Capability of the Department of Defense (1994), and an Assistant United States Attorney in the Western District of Washington (1988-1994).  Ms. Boggs also served in the United States Army (1981-1988) and was a detailed staff attorney at The White House (1987-1988).  She currently serves on The Johns Hopkins University Board of Trustees, the American Red Cross Board of Governors, the Advisory Council for KEXP FM (an NPR affiliate), and Washington State’s Campaign for Equal Justice.  Ms. Boggs has also been part of several philanthropic organizations, such as the boards of Legal Aid for Washington Fund, the Greater Seattle YMCA, and the Seattle Art Museum.   She holds a B.A. from The Johns Hopkins University and a J.D. from University of California at Berkeley School of Law. 

Jon Bon Jovi

Jon Bon Jovi, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Jon Bon Jovi currently serves as Chairman of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the lives of those in need.  The Soul Foundation launches programs and partnerships with the intent to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness in the United States.  To date, Mr. Bon Jovi and the Soul Foundation have provided affordable housing to hundreds of low-income individuals and families.  Mr. Bon Jovi is also the lead singer of the Grammy Award winning group Bon Jovi, which has sold more than 120 million albums and performed more than 2,600 concerts for more than 34 million fans.
John Bridgeland, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

John Bridgeland currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Civic Enterprises, a public policy firm in Washington, D.C.  Prior to founding Civic Enterprises, Mr. Bridgeland served as Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Assistant to President George W. Bush, Director of the USA Freedom Corps, and Chief of Staff & Special Counsel to U.S. Congressman Rob Portman.  He also co-led the Policy Transition Team for President George W. Bush in 2000-2001. In 2007, he led the National Summit on America’s Silent Epidemic alongside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Governors Association, TIME Magazine, and MTV to bring attention to the high school dropout crisis.  Mr. Bridgeland was also a co-convener of ServiceNation, a Presidential forum that showcased a 10-point plan to increase community, national, and international service opportunities.  For his work in promoting the national service agenda, Mr. Bridgeland was selected as NonProfit Times Executive of the Year.  He currently serves on twelve non-profit boards, including City Year, Earth Conservation Corps, the President’s Advisory Board at EARTH University in Costa Rica, National Conference on Citizenship, the Public Advisory Board at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, and the Partnership for Public Service.  He is Vice Chairman of Malaria No More and a Senior Advisor to the UN Special Envoy for Malaria. He holds a B.A. degree from Harvard University and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Jim Canales, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Jim Canales currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine Foundation.  Prior to this appointment, Mr. Canales served as Vice President and Corporate Secretary at the Foundation from 1999 to 2003.  His service at the Foundation began in 1993 and has included roles such as Special Assistant to the President, Program Officer, and Chief Administrative Officer/Corporate Secretary.  Mr. Canales currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Stanford University and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and he is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the College Access Foundation of California. Mr. Canales has previously served as board chair for KQED Public Broadcasting and for the Stanford Alumni Association.  He has also served on the boards of BoardSource in Washington D.C., and Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco.  He is a co-founder and past Board Chair for Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO).  Mr. Canales holds a B.A. degree and an M.A. from Stanford University.
Scott Cowen, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Scott Cowen currently serves as the fourteenth President of Tulane University.  Dr. Cowen also holds joint appointments as the Seymour S. Goodman Memorial Professor of Business in Tulane’s A.B. Freeman School of Business and Professor of Economics in the School of Liberal Arts.  Prior to serving at Tulane, Dr. Cowen was a professor, and later dean, at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio for twenty-three years.  In 2005, Dr. Cowen was appointed by New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin to the “Bring New Orleans Back Commission” after Hurricane Katrina and charged with leading a committee to reform and rebuild the city’s failing public school system.  Dr. Cowen is also the co-founder of the Fleur-de-lis Ambassadors program, a group of New Orleans civic leaders dedicated to promoting post-Katrina New Orleans around the country.  He has held leadership positions in national academic and professional associations, including the American Council on Education and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.  Dr. Cowen currently serves as a board member for several organizations, including the National Merit Scholarship Corporation and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation.  In 2009, Time Magazine named Dr. Cowen one of the nation’s top 10 Best College Presidents.  Prior to his work in academia, Mr. Cowen served for three years as a United States Army infantry officer, including a tour in Turkey (1968-1971).  Dr. Cowen holds a B.A. degree from the University of Connecticut and an M.B.A. in finance and D.B.A. in management from George Washington University.
John Donahoe, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

John Donahoe currently serves as President and CEO of eBay Inc. In this position, Mr. Donahoe has global responsibility for growing the company’s e-commerce and payments businesses, which include eBay Marketplaces and PayPal.   Mr. Donahoe joined eBay in February 2005 as President of eBay Marketplaces, where he was responsible for all elements of eBay’s global e-commerce businesses.  Prior to eBay, Mr. Donahoe spent more than 20 years at Bain & Company, a worldwide consulting firm based in Boston.  He started as an Associate Consultant and rose to become the firm’s CEO, where he managed Bain’s 30 offices and over 3,000 employees.  In addition to serving on the Board of Directors for eBay Inc. and Intel Corp., Mr. Donahoe is a member of the Board of Trustees of Dartmouth College.  Mr. Donahoe received a B.A. in Economics from Dartmouth College and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Michael Fleming, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Michael Fleming currently serves as the Executive Director of the David Bohnett Foundation.  As Executive Director, Mr. Fleming promotes the Foundation’s goal of improving society through social justice and civic activism and is committed to funding forward-thinking programs, organizations and institutions in areas including public policy, education, the LGBT community, the arts, gun violence and animal language research. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2000, Mr. Fleming worked in a variety of media positions, including producing newscasts in Boston and Washington and serving as a media specialist for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. Mr. Fleming remains active in broadcasting as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of public radio’s KCRW Foundation, one of the country’s – and the Web’s – most listened-to NPR stations.  In 2007, he was appointed to the Los Angeles Convention Center Commission by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.  Mr. Fleming has, since 2003, taught at the University of California, Los Angeles, served on the Dean’s Council of New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service and was, in 2005, a Victory Fellow (now Bohnett Fellow) at Harvard Kennedy School.  Mr. Fleming holds a B.A. from Colorado College.
David Friedman, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

David Friedman currently serves as the Lead Director and Chair of Edison Properties/HNB Private Trust, the largest owner of miniature storage facilities in New York City.  Mr. Friedman also serves as partner at Sandy River II, an organization which develops and operates Alzheimer’s Assisted Living facilities in New England.  In 2005, Mr. Friedman served as Founder and Chairman of Sandy River Health Systems, Maine’s largest provider of long-term health care.  He has served on several boards and commissions, including the Calvert Social Investment Fund, The Threshold Foundation, UFP Technologies, and as Co-Chairman of The Jewish Funders Network.  Mr. Friedman holds a B.S. degree in economics from Harvard University.
Jim Gibbons, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Jim Gibbons currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Goodwill Industries International.  He is also a past President and Chief Executive Officer of National Industries for the Blind (1998-2008).  Prior to joining National Industries for the Blind, Mr. Gibbons worked as President and Chief Executive Officer of Campus Wide Access Solutions-a wholly owned AT&T subsidiary.  While at AT&T, Mr. Gibbons held various leadership positions in marketing and operations.  Mr. Gibbons has received several awards and recognitions for his work, including the 2010 National Jefferson Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged, the 2009 Young Presidents’ Organization Social Enterprise Leadership Award, SmartCEO 2010 ECO CEO award for organizational commitment to the environment, and the Purdue 2007 Outstanding Industrial Engineer of the Year award.  Mr. Gibbons holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.
Michele Jolin, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Michele Jolin currently serves as a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where she is developing policy tools to foster social entrepreneurship and drive investment toward more innovative, effective nonprofit solutions to our nation’s critical social problems.  Previously, Ms. Jolin served as Senior Advisor for Social Innovation at the White House, in the newly created Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation (2009-2010).   Prior to joining the White House, she co-edited the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s presidential transition book titled Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President.  Ms. Jolin also served as a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress (2005-2008), where she authored a number of articles and reports on policy tools to promote innovation and impact in the nonprofit sector.  From 1999-2004, she was a Senior Vice President at Ashoka, a global foundation that invests in social entrepreneurs in more than 50 countries around the world.   From 1995 to 1999, Ms. Jolin served as the Chief of Staff for President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, and from 1993-1995, she worked for Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on the Senate Banking Committee. She has a B.A. from University of Wisconsin-Madison, an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia.
Michael Kempner, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Michael Kempner is the Founder (1986), President, and Chief Executive Officer of MWW Group, one of the largest independent public relations firms in the United States. Mr. Kempner also serves as an Operating Advisor to Pegasus Capital Advisors, helping them build companies that solve scarce resource issues and other transformative technologies.  Previously, Mr. Kempner was the Legislative Director for U.S. Congressman Robert Torricelli (1982 -1984).  He is currently a member of various boards, including the Center for Food Action, the Network for Teacher Entrepreneurship, the North Jersey Community Bank, and New Jersey Governor’s Advisory Council on Volunteerism and Community Service.  Mr. Kempner was named PR Professional of the Year in 2010 by PR News and was inducted into the PR News Hall of Fame in 2009 for his work in communications.  He has also received recognition as PR Week’s Professional of the Year (2008) and the Public Relations Society of America New Jersey chapter’s Public Relations Professional of the Year (2005). Mr. Kempner holds a B.S. from the School of Communications at The American University.
Steven Lerner, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Steven Lerner is the Founder and Managing Partner of Blue Hill Group, a financial company that invests in entrepreneurial companies and helps them manage rapid growth.  Mr. Lerner is also Partner in LaunchBox Digital, an organization that provides seed capital and mentoring to start-up companies through a 12 week accelerator program.  He is a member of various Boards, including Bandwidth.Com, Accent Energy, Petroliance, and Piedmont Community Bank Holdings.  Mr. Lerner is also Chairman and Founder of two North Carolina marketing service companies, Capstrat and FGI (1982).  Over the years, he has served on the boards of locally based not-for-profit organizations with a primary focus on education and communications.  Previously, he served as Chairman of Yankelovich Partners prior to its sale in 2008.  Mr. Lerner received both an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Maurice Lim Miller, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Maurice Lim Miller is the Founder, Chief Executive Officer and President of the Family Independence Initiative (FII), a national center for anti-poverty innovation.  Before founding FII, Mr. Miller spent 22 years at the Asian Neighborhood Design (1978-2000) and served as its Executive Director for most of his tenure, where he promoted multi-service community development initiatives in San Francisco and Oakland, California.  He also serves on the boards of the Hitachi Foundation and the Board of the California Endowment, one of the country’s largest foundations, which focuses on the nexus of health and poverty.  Mr. Miller previously served as a Board Member of the Corporation for Enterprise Development, Public/Private Ventures, and the Koshland Awards Committee of the San Francisco Foundation.  Former President Bill Clinton honored him at the 1999 State of the Union Address for his community service and leadership.  Mr. Miller holds a B.S. and an M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley.
Laurene Powell Jobs, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Laurene Powell Jobs is founder and chair of the Emerson Collective, an organization that works with a range of entrepreneurs to advance domestic and international social reform efforts.  Ms. Powell Jobs also serves as president of the board of College Track, an after-school program she founded in 1997 to prepare underserved high school students for success in college.  Since its inception in East Palo Alto, College Track has expanded to serve students in Oakland, San Francisco and New Orleans.   Ms. Powell Jobs also serves on the boards of Teach For America, NewSchools Venture Fund, Stand for Children, New America Foundation and Conservation International.  Earlier in her career, she spent several years working in investment banking and later co-founded Terraverra, a natural foods company, in California.  Ms. Powell Jobs holds a B.A. and a B.S.E. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. 

Norman Rice

Norman Rice, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Norman Rice currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of The Seattle Foundation, one of the nation’s largest community foundations. In this role, Mr. Rice is leading the Foundation in achieving its mission to create a healthy community through engaged philanthropy, community knowledge, and leadership.  Prior to joining The Seattle Foundation, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle (1999-2005) and Mayor of Seattle (1990-1997).  As Mayor, Mr. Rice earned national acclaim for revitalizing Seattle’s downtown and strengthening city neighborhoods through public-private partnerships.  He also championed for an improved public school system, implemented a welfare-to-work program, and improved downtown retail centers, housing, and civic buildings.  Mr. Rice currently serves on many boards and commissions, including the Brookings Institute’s Advisory Committee for Sustainable Communities, the Northwest African-American Museum, the King County Committee to End Homelessness, and HistoryLink.  He holds a B.A. in Communications and an M.A. in Public Administration from the University of Washington.
Kristin Richmond, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Kristin Richmond currently serves as co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Revolution Foods. Ms. Richmond founded Revolution Foods in 2005 in order to serve healthy meals and offer nutrition education to low income students.  From 2002 to 2004, Ms. Richmond was Vice President of Resources for Indispensable Schools and Educators, where she designed and executed strategy that grew the organization from a small community based program to a nationally scalable model working with more than 700 teachers and 60 public schools.  From 2000 to 2002, Ms. Richmond lived in Nairobi and co-founded the Kenya Community Center for Learning (KCCL).  Prior to that, she worked at Citigroup.  Ms. Richmond is a board member of many organizations, including KCCL, Lighthouse Community Charter School, and U.C .Berkeley’s Global Social Venture Competition.  She is also an Aspen Institute Entrepreneurial Leaders in Public Education Fellow, an Education Pioneers Fellow, and an Advisor to the Kauffman Foundation Entrepreneurship Program.  In 2010, Newschools Venture Fund named Ms. Richmond the Entrepreneur of the Year.  In 2007, she won the Global Social Venture Competition for the Revolution Foods model.  Ms. Richmond holds a B.S. in Finance and Accounting from Boston College and an M.B.A. from U.C. Berkeley.
Judith Rodin, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Judith Rodin currently serves as the 12th President of the Rockefeller Foundation, where she has focused on recalibrating the Foundation’s focus in order to support and shape innovations to ensure that more people can access globalization’s benefits and strengthen resilience to risks.  Prior to working with the Foundation, Dr. Rodin served as President of the University of Pennsylvania, the first woman to lead an Ivy League institution (1994-2004), and provost of Yale University.  Dr. Rodin is the author of more than 200 academic articles and has written or co-written twelve books, including her most recent, The University & Urban Renewal: Out of the Ivory Tower and Into the Streets. Dr. Rodin holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. from Columbia University.
Nancy H. Rubin, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Nancy Rubin currently serves as co-chair of Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary Year to build a larger international grassroots movement to prevent abuse and promote human rights.  Previously Ms. Rubin served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission for Human Rights where she led international initiatives on securing rights around the world.  Ms. Rubin also served the Clinton Administration as a Director in the Corporation for National and Community Service to establish AmeriCorps, which has placed over half a million Americans in public service programs.  At AmeriCorps, Ms. Rubin led the public private partnership initiative to garner the business community’s support.  She has also served on the Public Policy Support Committee of the National Red Cross and was catalytic to a loan repayment program for law students pursuing careers in the public’s interest.  During the Carter administration, Ms. Rubin served as Deputy Director of Public Participation at the Department of Agriculture and worked at the White House as the National Coordinator of the Consumer Education Project.  Prior to her service in Washington, Ms. Rubin was a public school teacher in Los Angeles, where she served on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Youth.  Ms. Rubin founded Community Outreach and served on a number of boards and commissions, including Women, Men and Media, and the Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center.  She was the first chair of the National Mental Health Awareness Campaign and she received the Carrie Catt Chapman Public Service Award.  Ms. Rubin holds a B.A. from UCLA.
Paul Schmitz, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Paul Schmitz is the National CEO of Public Allies, a national nonprofit dedicated to supporting young people through full-time community service and leadership development programs.  Mr. Schmitz founded Public Allies Milwaukee in 1993, was promoted to Vice President and Chief Strategist in 1997, and was appointed national CEO in 2000.  He currently serves as Co-chair of Voices for National Service, co-founder/chair of the Nonprofit Workforce Coalition, and is a board member of Our Good Works and Independent Sector.  Mr. Schmitz is also a faculty member of The Asset-Based Community Development Institute at Northwestern University.  He was recognized by The Nonprofit Times as one of the 50 most powerful and influential nonprofit leaders in the country, and honored by Fast Company Magazine with a Social Capitalist Award for innovation.  Mr. Schmitz was also a Next Generation Leadership Fellow with the Rockefeller Foundation.  He holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Jill Schumann, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Jill Schumann currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Lutheran Services in America (LSA).  In this position, Ms. Schumann leads an alliance of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and over 300 health and human service organizations. Prior to her work with LSA, Ms. Schumann launched Kairos Health Systems (1996), a nonprofit post acute care alliance.  Ms. Schumann has also served as Vice President with Tressler Lutheran Services (1994-1996), a large multi-state, multi-service health and human service organization, and held multiple executive roles within nonprofit and for profit organizations.  Ms. Schumann’s work has created programs in post acute healthcare, behavioral health, and chemical dependency treatment.  Ms. Schumann serves on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, the National Human Services Assembly, and the Roundtable of National Faith-Based Health and Human Service Organizations.  She holds a B.S. from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from Mt. St. Mary’s University.
Bobbi Silten, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Bobbi Silten currently serves as the Chief Foundation Officer of Gap Inc., a global specialty retailer whose brands include Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy.  For more than five years, Ms. Silten has led the Gap Foundation, overseeing all community investment and volunteer programs for 135,000 employees worldwide, and guiding Gap Inc.’s work to make a long-term impact in its communities, including targeted programs for underserved youth and women through innovative social solutions.  Prior to joining Gap Inc., Ms. Silten spent 10 years at Levi Strauss & Co. (1995-2005), including five years as President of the U.S. Dockers brand.  She also spent 11 years working in advertising at Foote, Cone & Belding (1984-1995).  Ms. Silten currently serves as a national board member for Summer Search and Chair for the Reimagining Service Council, a national cross-sector initiative to increase the impact of volunteerism.  She was formerly co-chair of the Business Track of the 2009 National Conference on Volunteering Service and the inaugural co-chair for the California Volunteers Business Partners Program.  Ms. Silten holds a B.A. in Social Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
Bill Strickland, Appointee for Member, White House Council for Community Solutions

Bill Strickland currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Manchester Bidwell Corporation (MBC) and its subsidiaries, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, Bidwell Training Center, and National Center for Arts and Technology.  As President and CEO, Mr. Strickland’s duties include developing and implementing major fund-raising plans of action, working with Boards of Directors and Industry Advisory Boards, and encouraging the participation of corporate executive officials from major multi-national Pittsburgh corporations.  Mr. Strickland is also instrumental in the creation and maintenance of MBC’s operational affiliate centers in Cincinnati and Cleveland, OH, Grand Rapids, MI, and San Francisco, CA.  He holds a B.A., cum laude, in American History and Foreign Relations from the University of Pittsburgh.

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President Obama: It’s Not Our Fault (Displaced Anger)


by Nida Khan

Nida Khan

President Obama is angry, and rightfully so. He’s endured two years of meticulous Republican opposition to virtually every measure put forth, even when he – dare I say – compromised. Setting aside campaign promises of a public healthcare option and a closing of Guantanamo Bay, the President has abandoned many of his platforms only to face continual filibustering, abuse and contempt from the right. So this past Tuesday during a press conference on the proposed tax cut deal, he let loose – except the anger was directed to those that have been in his corner since day one. It was, in effect, like the overworked and underpaid worker who comes home and beats his wife and kids instead of standing up to his tyrant boss.

September 2009 marked the beginning of the end of Obama’s hold on his own principles, the desires of all those who overwhelmingly voted for change and the notion of respect for the coveted office of the Presidency. There was no capitulation on ideas, nor was there a reversal of any major campaign promise. Instead, it was a brief utterance from a Republican elected official in the House Chambers that virtually sealed this President’s fate. It was two words that still reverberate around political corners till this day; it was the inexcusable and outlandish outburst of South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson. During his national address on healthcare, our President was momentarily interrupted by the words: ‘You Lie’. And he has been unable to regain control since.

Joe Wilson

Failing to exert his authority during that pivotal moment, President Obama fell victim to vultures that were only ready, willing and able to find his weakness. And they soon enough did – his inability to stand up to White opposition rooted in bigotry. Until that definitive instant, our Commander-in-Chief never faced such blatant insolence and hostility. Prior to Joe Wilson’s scathing remarks, Obama only had to negotiate and engage in intellectual discourse with his opponents. This was in essence the first time he was face-to-face with individuals who devalued the notion of a Black President so much so that they deemed it appropriate to openly degrade and embarrass him in front of the nation.

As a biracial child growing up in a White household and later attending Ivy league schools, Obama was always perceived as the ‘exception’ out of a race of people that are still struggling to shatter inaccurate stereotypes and achieve equality in a society that is far from post-racial. And though he grew up outside of the mainland,the President fully immersed himself in the struggles of African Americans and disenfranchised groups as evidenced by his work as a community organizer and advocate. Whole-heartedly embracing and identifying with his Black side, Obama married a Black woman, attended a Black Church and understood the importance of uplifting a segment of the population that has been methodically oppressed.

In the process of developing his identity, Obama also unfortunately acquired the notion of displaced anger – directing one’s frustration at someone or something that is safe or convenient, as opposed to the actual source of one’s anger. And sadly, we have seen this pattern manifest itself over and over again. Consistently accusing the ‘professional left’ of being ‘sanctimonious’, President Obama has notonly abandoned the very base that created a grassroots movement of victory thatushered him to the White House, but he has chosen to continually attack them whenthey have shown nothing but support – even in the face of reversals in campaignpromises. Instead of directly challenging those that are systematically placingroadblocks in every direction of his path, President Obama is regrettably channelinghis frustration on those that want nothing more than to see him succeed.

The sooner our President recognizes this reality, the sooner he will be able tobreak the shackles from the remnants of mental slavery that still unfortunatelysubconsciously determine our actions – even when those actions originate from thehighest office in the land.

Nida Khan is the news correspondent for WRKS 98.7 Kiss FM NY

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President Obama vs the GOP: Yes We Can or Yes We Cave?

There he goes again.. President Obama has once again sat down with the most vile of his political enemies and granted them serious concessions-The Bush Tax Cuts. These were granted even as we note it was this group of people and their policies that majorly contributed to the economic mess we are currently experiencing. This latest move has left everyone disappointed in ways that words can’t even describe.

Now before we began let’s get a few things out the way. Whenever criticism of President Barack Obama from the so-called left comes up, there’s always some apologist who shows up and starts spouting how ‘progressives‘ aka the Professional Left need to pipe down and go along with the program. These apologists usually try to spin these expressed concerns about President Obama and his policies in a number of clichéd ways.

First, they like to insist that progressives are messing things up for the president. They say that anyone speaking out is somehow dividing the party. They assert that President Obama simply can’t give into to ‘fringe’ and ‘extremist’ views. Lets dead this myth once and for all.

Pushing for un-compromised policies is not fringe or extremist. In fact its a good negotiating tactic. Always ask for more verses starting out offering less than what you need.

Second, if we look a President Obama’s dismal approval ratings coupled with the ‘shalacking‘ that was handed out during last month’s mid-term elections, its obvious that more than ‘fringe’ progressives and ‘wacky leftists’ from Berkeley, Madison or Austin are upset with him.  His missteps are bothersome and raising eyebrows in various sectors of the Democratic tent and he thus he needs to change-up.

Third, let’s say his dismal ratings and lackluster ability to raise to roof during the mid-terms is because of the progressive wing of the political spectrum. If progressives can cause a sitting president who commanded a whooping 80% approval rating to dip 30-40% in a years time then that’s even more of a reason for him to listen to what may arguably be the most influential sector of his base. Again the over-riding concern, he’s doing too much dancing with the GOP.

Obama defenders like to say things like ‘Progressives simply don’t get it.. ‘In government one must compromise..Progressives must understand..You can’t have everything your way‘…Blah, Blah, Blah..

Memo to Obama Apologists and  Spinmasters: Fall Back..We all took civics class. We all understand how government works. In fact some of the reasons for the criticisms-is because  folks clearly see what’s working and what’s not working and want to speak to it.. In addition most of us have been a part of some organization or involved with coalition building of some sort where compromise is the order of the day.

Most of us clearly understand there’s compromise, calculated risk, political theater and caving in. This man who many of us enthusiastically supported and helped elect, has done a bit too much caving in on a variety of issues and needs to be called on it.  Doing so is called agitation, petitioning, airing your grievances and if you have enough money, power and influence-its called lobbying. Now we don’t hear Vice president Joe Biden and White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs telling lobbyist to ‘zip it‘, ‘buck up‘ and get in line, hence they shouldnt be saying that to average citizens who identify with the democratic party and raise concerns.

The irony here is that is seems like whenever President Obama is mis-treated or disrespected he’s willing to eagerly sit down and compromise with you. Time and time again, we’ve seen him reach across the aisle to try and work with people who accused him of not being a citizen, who blatantly lied about and tried to derail his policies and who have shown up at rallies where participants held up offensive signs about him and his wife. He’s that guy who will compromise while you’re still in the ring fighting and defending him..

The common complaint with President Obama is he doing too much negotiating with a political enemy that has publicly stated and later demonstrated that they have no intention of working cooperatively with him. How much longer do the Obama apologists feel we should allow this continue before we say enough is enough? How much more compromising must he do?

And let’s be clear here, an Obama Compromise is not just any ole compromise where the split is 50-50. With President  Obama a compromise is where the opponent always seems get 75% while you get 25%. Far too often he offers up concessions without getting anything in return. He’s forever removing things off the table just to simply sit down and negotiate. That’s not compromise, that’s playing a weak hand and its got to stop.

We saw this when he caved in on these Bush Tax cuts.

Initially the issue at hand is that those who had been employed for a long time aka the 99ers were seeing their last unemployment check in this week. President Obama was supposed to go to the mat and fight for them. We  kept hearing that there might have to be a compromise to help these long-term unemployed folks. So what does President Obama do, he cuts a deal and leaves the 99ers who were used as this political football by both the left and the right off the table…Here’s what was noted in the WSJ.

Unemployment Extension: Calculated Risk makes an important point that we’ve made before: the extension of unemployment doesn’t extend the duration of benefits beyond 99 weeks. “Just to be clear, the “extension of the unemployment benefits” is an extension of the qualifying dates for the various tiers of benefits, and not additional weeks of benefits. There is no additional help for the so-called “99ers”. Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) comes in four tiers: Tier I is for 20 additional weeks; Tier II is for up to 14 weeks; Tier III is for up to 13 weeks; Tier IV is for up to 6 weeks. As an example, if a worker was receiving Tier I benefits, they will be able to move to Tier II benefits with this proposed extension. Without the extension of the qualifying dates, workers would not be able to move to the next tier.”.

To make matters worse, we didn’t hear President Obama use his bully pulpit and insist that those millionaires who got these tax cuts which will cost an estimated 600 billion dollars, go out and hire at least a portion of 2 million or so 99ers. Remember, the millionaires represented by the lobbyist of the US Chamber of Commerce repeatedly said that they needed to extend the Bush Tax cuts to create jobs. What was on the table to ensure those jobs would be created?

If the past behavior of Wall Street bankers and brokers who got billions of dollars in bonuses after being bailed out with our tax dollars are any indication, then what were likely to see is them hoarding even more money not creating new jobs.

Hell, we didn’t hear President Obama pushing back and LOUDLY countering the popular GOP narrative which says that those on unemployment are lazy and not trying to look for work.

President Obama and his team understand the power of symbols and political theater. When arguing for these unemployment extensions why didn’t him or someone from his team pull out footage of unemployed folks standing in long lines trying desperately trying to get low wage jobs? Why didn’t he highlight the some of those stories of long-term job seekers who are finding closed doors because of bad credit ratings caused by being out of work?  Why didn’t he show families sleeping in cars, staying at all night gyms and posting up at all night diners? In short, why not put a face to the long-term unemployed the way the GOP made Joe the Plumber the face of those opposing tax increases for the wealthy?

Ted Donahue President of the US Chamber of Commerce

The US Chamber of Commerce who help lead the charge for extending the Bush Tax Cuts instead of pushing to create jobs for those who been without work for so long has instead, been hosting seminars to show American companies on how to outsource jobs to China. Does that sound like job creation? Maybe for China,but not for us here in the United States. Why have we not seem them called to the carpet more?

If that’s not enough these same US Chamber lobbyists came out against the Senate recent outsourcing bill. The US Chamber led by Ted Donahue, poured hundreds of millions of undeclared money into campaigns backing all sorts of über corporate friendly candidates who will now be taken seats come 2011 in the new Congress. This is in addition to pouring millions into the coffers of the GOP leadership that got President Obama to bow down.

Should the President have compromised? Were these US Chamber backed politicians too much of a formidable force who really did have the ‘unemployed as hostages’? No one is suggesting that compromise was not needed. But where was the compromise if the plight of the 99ers weren’t openly advocated?

Some are saying President Obama had to do cave in because he didn’t have enough votes within his own party. I’m looking to see who opposed him and once again we see Senator Joe Lieberman. This is the same Joe Lieberman who Obama came out and protected from political banishment two years ago. Folks may recall that it was President Obama who picked up the phone and asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi to let Senator Lieberman keep his committee chairmanships after he had a political dust-up and falling out with his Democratic colleagues resulting in him being declared an independent.

Senator Joe Lieberman

To this day I have no idea how Senator Lieberman has paid back the president. It seems like with every important bill good ole Joe is all up in the mix trying to gum up the works. Who can forget how he single-handedly held up and weakened the healthcare bill by refusing to sign if they left in the public option?

Also on the list is Senator Bill Nelson.. You remember this scuz bucket from Nebraska?  President Obama, bowed, scraped and kissed his butt at least 16 times during the HCR debates and at the end of day after he got everything he damn near wanted including keeping the highly priced Medicaid Advantage. How does Nelson pay back the President? He opposes him on the ending the Bush Tax cuts…

The bottom line is this. After two years, its more than obvious that President Obama has an agenda that is in line with corporations more than it is the average person who tirelessly worked to put him into office. Sure, we may get a lil something here and there, a kind word, a small bill or two, but it will never meet the threshold that so many of us need in order to truly get back on our feet? From the looks of things, No. From Universal Healthcare to public option to the closing of Gitmo to getting rid of the Patriot Act to keeping Net Neutrality these are all key bread and butter issues championed in many left leaning enclaves. At each turn we have seen our President severely dilute, back peddled, re-calibrated and in the many instances not even put the issue on the table for discussion.

What’s the solution? For starters, folks will have to look toward each other, show compassion and hold each other up. These corporations have no intention of doing so. All of us will have to make sacrifices and whenever possible stop supporting those outlets that drain our communities.

Pastor Jeremiah Wright took a lot of heat for talking about Obama being a politician more than a prophetic leader

Sadly much of the leadership in the Democratic party are beholden to these corporations as is our President who is not forcefully speaking out in a way that encourages us to rally around him energetically. All of us are going to have to start fortifying our bases on local levels and making sure we put good people in office who are down to scrap and truly look out for the little guy. This is not happening with Barack Obama. Not sure who his advisors are or if he has some sort of long-term strategy that none of us can see.

His former Pastor Jeremiah Wright said it best and he took a lot of heat for it. He noted that President Obama is not prophet..He’s a politician. He goes to where ever the political winds take him.

From this day forth either we create a political wind storm that President Obama can’t ignore or we better start looking carefully for a viable candidate to run for office in 2012 who will compromise from the center and far right and not the left.

Something to ponder

written by -Davey D-

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