Africa for the Taking
Obama’s Africa trip is disgusting for a variety of reasons, but I think the jail cell photo op is somewhere near the top of the list:
After visiting the jail cell on South Africa’s Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison during the long struggle against apartheid, President Obama wrote on Sunday about the bravery of Mandela and others who demanded their rights.
In a message he added to the island’s visitors book, the president said:
“On behalf of our family we’re deeply humbled to stand where men of such courage faced down injustice and refused to yield. The world is grateful for the heroes of Robben Island, who remind us that no shackles or cells can match the strength of the human spirit.”
This coming from a President who has continued to allow the torturing of prisoners at Gitmo with force-feeding as nearly 50 of the 166 prisoners left are trying to starve themselves to death.
This coming from a president who claims the power to kill “militants” with drone strikes, including double-tap strikes that target first responders, something widely seen as a serious war crime.
And this coming from a president who has waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, including Edward Snowden, who is now stateless thanks to the weaponizing of his citizenship status.
Speaking of Snowden, he has apparently released a statement through wikileaks, but there has been doubt expressed about its authenticity. You can find the whole statement here, but I’d like to highlight this part as being worth reading, even if its provenance is in question:
In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.
Anyways, I hope Obama has a successful time in Africa shilling for corporations to Feed the Future of the world’s population. One company really excited about the Feed the Future initiative is, you guessed it, Monsanto:
Our company has made a three-pronged commitment to improve sustainable agriculture: We will do our part to help farmers double yields in our core crops of corn, cotton and soybeans between 2000 and 2030, while producing each bushel or bale with one-third fewer resources in aggregate (such as land, water and energy). And, just as importantly, in so doing we will help farmers to earn more and improve the lives of their families and rural communities.
We made this commitment in recognition that we are privileged to work in an amazing industry – agriculture – that is at the heart of some of our planet’s biggest challenges, ranging from hunger, malnutrition and rural poverty to land degradation, water scarcity and climate change. And, most importantly, we made our pledge knowing that we cannot achieve it alone. Our cornerstone strategy is to actively engage and seek collaboration from a wide range of partners in the public sector, private sector, academia and civil society.
That’s why I am so excited by Feed the Future and its inclusive approach to making measurable and sustainable progress in agricultural development. Monsanto, as one partner among many, stands ready and willing to contribute to this initiative. We want to do our part to help achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger and poverty with urgency. USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah, when introducing Feed the Future to the Chicago Council Symposium on Agriculture and Security in May, asked for private-sector input. “Tell us what countries and donors can do to reduce constraints on business operations,” he said. “And please explore with us whether our tools to encourage investment . . . would help you make the commitment to invest greater resources in these specific value chains and countries.”
Value chains? That’s some slick corporate speak. It’s too bad they don’t really express themselves, like Paula Deen.