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“Follow the Money, Flashpoints Radio Voices,” an anthology of interviews from 2009-2016 KPFA Flashpoints shows, is full of tragedy: oil wars, drone bombing, torture, mass incarceration, mass surveillance, police militarization, neoliberal trade agreements, poisoned water, botched executions, ecocide and the “too-big-to-fail” bank heist that kicked off the Obama years. “Follow the Money” can at the same time serve as an organizing and networking manual, because it’s filled with the voices of those fighting back.
In California’s top-two primary system, only the top two vote getters advance to the general election, meaning that only two names will be on the ballot for each race in November. Since California is a very blue state, that often means that two Democrats advance. However, three Green Party candidates for the U.S. Congress advanced in California races this year. Among them is Laura Wells, whose name will appear alongside that of incumbent Barbara Lee in the East Bay’s District 13 race.
Syria has long dominated international headlines while the big powers discuss the possibility of dividing it into smaller, more homogeneous states along ethnic or religious lines. The Democratic Republic of Congo is rarely if ever at the top of the Western headlines, but heads of state and so-called experts have long made similar proposals to carve out new, smaller, more homogeneous nations in Congo’s resource-rich eastern provinces. I spoke with Congolese scholar and activist Boniface Musavuli about the plans.
In 2017, Cheri Honkala, the founder of the Poor People’s Campaign for Economic Human Rights, ran for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in Philadelphia’s District 197. I spoke to her about what happened. It was a special election last year for a representative to the Pennsylvania State House. On the night of the election, there were literally hundreds of calls to our campaign headquarters and the district attorney’s office about election fraud.
On May 4, former Black Panther Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald agreed to a five-year denial of parole instead of insisting on a parole hearing, even though he has served more time than any former Black Panther still behind bars: 49 years. Chip is now 67 years old and living with the consequences of a stroke; his friends and family fear he will die in prison. He has been moved from one state prison to another over the years and is currently in the California State Prison-Los Angeles. I spoke to his lawyer, Charles Carbone, whose office is in San Francisco.
On April 26, former Black Panther Herman Bell was released from prison in New York State after 45 years. That leaves at least 10 surviving members of the Black Panther Party behind bars, including Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, who is currently held at the California State Prison-Los Angeles. His next parole hearing is scheduled for May 4. I spoke to his friend Arthur League, a former Panther who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
April 6 was the 24th anniversary of the day that Gen. Paul Kagame shattered a ceasefire agreement and resumed the 1990-1994 war in Rwanda by assassinating Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira. His troops, acting on his orders, fired a rocket at Habyarimana’s plane when it appeared overhead in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, returning from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
On March 27, the San Francisco Bay Area’s Stop Urban Shield Coalition claimed victory in its four-year battle to stop Urban Shield, a war games and weapons convention for cops held in Alameda County every year since 2007. I spoke to Tracy Rosenberg, executive director of Media Alliance and co-facilitator of Oakland Privacy, a citizen’s coalition that works regionally to defend the right to privacy and enhance public transparency and oversight regarding the use of surveillance techniques and equipment. She has worked with the Stop Urban Shield Coalition since 2014.
The 2018 Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize was awarded on Saturday, March 10, 2018, in Brussels, Belgium. The prize honors Rwandan political prisoner Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. Despite the African Court of Human and People’s Rights’ 2017 ruling that her imprisonment is unjust and that Rwanda should free her, she remains behind bars. This year’s Victoire Prize went to Cameroonian French journalist Charles Onana and Canadian radio broadcaster Phil Taylor.
Helen Epstein’s new book, “Another Fine Mess: America, Uganda, and the War on Terror,” is dense with detailed and fascinating accounts of events in Ugandan history and politics and those of neighboring nations. I’m familiar with much of it, but there’s also much I hadn’t known, some I disagree with, and elaborations or different interpretations of what I’ve previously read or been told.
Cindy Sheehan: I’m beginning to organize a Women’s March on the Pentagon because since 2007, when Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats regained a majority in the House of Representatives, there has been an incomprehensible absence of protesting the USA’s wars and empire. After Obama took over as president, the antiwar movement all but died. Many of us think that one cannot separate the global emancipation of women or the destruction of our planet from the issue of war.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the heart of Black Africa. Millions of Congolese have been murdered, massacred, enslaved, robbed of their resources and driven from their homes since the Berlin Conference gave the “Congo Free State” to Belgium’s King Leopold II as his personal property in 1885. I spoke to Jean-Claude Maswana about the latest waves of aggression under current Congolese President Joseph Kabila.
The Congo crisis is now one of the greatest humanitarian emergencies in the world and the most underreported. An average of 5,500 people a day flee violence and insecurity, even more than in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Unlike Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, however, the Congo wars are undeclared and there’s no front line. There are instead many wars over many concentrations of resource wealth in this immensely resource-rich country, especially in the eastern provinces.
On Nov. 14, CNN shocked the world with its video news report of Black African migrants being sold into slavery in Libya. Eight days later the Rwandan government issued a press release headlined “Rwanda’s door is open for migrants held captive in Libya.” Rwandan President Paul Kagame is grandstanding as Papa Africa on the world stage, but nothing could be further from the truth or more preposterous than his proposal. Here are four reasons why.
Six California prisoners wrote to me in 2015 to ask about the Hepatitis C cure, shortly after the San Francisco Bay View newspaper published my interview with activist attorney Peter Erlinder titled “US prisoners sue for constitutional right to lifesaving Hep C cure.” They’d been able to read it because the Bay View sends a print edition to prisons all over the country every month. I tried and failed to answer those letters and I’ve felt bad about it ever since. I would have swiftly responded to all the prisoners who wrote to me about the Hep C cure if I’d been able to send electronic mail.
In 2010, Victoire Ingabire attempted to run for president against Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, but went to prison instead. The Rwandan Supreme Court ultimately sentenced her to 15 years. On Nov. 24, the African Court of Human and People’s Rights ruled that she did not receive a fair trial, that she had not denied or minimized the Tutsi genocide, and that her criticism of the government should have been allowed as part of her freedom of expression within Rwandan law.
On Nov. 18, Rwandan President Paul Kagame inducted seven thieves without borders and one medical doctor into his “National Order of Outstanding Friendship,” presenting them with medals for “exemplary service” to the nation, meaning himself and his ruling party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). Kagame is a modern day exemplar of French King Louis XIV’s theory of government: “L’état, c’est moi” (“I am the state”).
The International Criminal Court (ICC) propagates injustice as stark as slavery or South African apartheid. It’s a Western court that prosecutes Africans exclusively. In June 2011, the ICC indicted Libyan President Muammar al-Qaddafi and his son Saif al-Islam Qaddafi. Now, six years later, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has announced that she will investigate Burundian officials for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the country’s past three years of civil unrest.
Friends and supporters of Rwandan political prisoner Victoire Ingabire are still waiting for the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights to rule on her appeal. In 2010, Victoire attempted to run for president against military dictator Paul Kagame and went to prison instead. Many Rwandans describe their country as a tinderbox, an earthquake fault, or a smoldering volcano because of its brutal oligarchy, unresolved ethnic polarization, and repressed memories of violence and loss.
A video calling for an Islamic State jihad in the Democratic Republic of the Congo appeared online and in a few news reports last week. It was purportedly made in Beni Territory, within Congo’s North Kivu Province, where a phantom so-called Islamist militia, the Allied Democratic Forces, has been blamed for massacres of the indigenous population that began in October 2014. I asked Boniface Musavuli, a native of Beni and author of “The Massacres of Beni: Kabila, Rwanda, and the Fake Islamists” to help contextualize the so-called news.