Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Liberia 2015: Strong and Ebola free

Liberia is proving to be a country that can bounce back from disasters. As the country heads into the New Year, Liberians are recovering from Ebola epidemic that nearly caused the country to collapse in a financial and literal context. Liberians are returning to normalcy and taking extra precaution with signs of sickness or any small changes in health in family homes and businesses. Christmas was celebrated in Monrovia and elsewhere across the country bringing joy to families eager to celebrate the holidays without worries of an epidemic or another health scare. Although 49 new cases of possible Ebola has been reported in Grand Cape Mount County on the border with Sierra Leone, most of the Liberia reported a drop in new Ebola cases bringing joy to many citizens including health officials and even the CDC Director who commended Liberia for a "better than expected situation."

Merry Christmas from Liberia 2014 compliments of BLK24

On a bright note, Liberian senate midterm elections recently ended after being postponed by the Liberian National Elections Commission from its usual election date in November. Complaints from local constituents emerged during and after the senatorial races were completed. Local constituents who felt the senate elections should have still been carried out at its usual date have questioned controversial move and reports of foiled ballot tempering during voting. Nevertheless, the senatorial elections were peaceful and most incumbents were either booted out and opposition members brought to the forefront as popular candidates by a majority of Liberians. Among the popular candidate who won his senate seat was the former football player George Weah and his CDC (Congress for Democratic Change) which is popular among many Liberians across the country.

Voter turnout low for Liberian Senatorial elections

Getting down to business

When the legislature returns to business in January, Liberian senators will be diving head first into a new fiscal year, a recovering economy, making decentralization policies more effective, being held accountable by ordinary Liberians for the direction of their votes, having to work with shaking smaller political parties and keeping the coalition in Liberian Parliament unified and addressing the complaints and demands of their constituents to do more for their respective counties and the country as a whole. President Johnson-Sirleaf is also facing the same challenges along with the fact that she is unpopular among Liberians. Beyond the politics, construction companies will be busy erecting new buildings, paving roads, installing new electric poles and systems. At the moment two new town halls have been erected in Brewerville, a residential suburb outside Monrovia and Fallie Town, Cape Mount County to delight of residents who see their mayors as initiative politicians who walk the walk when it comes to self reliance and not waiting for government. Initiative has become a buzz word in Liberia for Liberians and politicians to be more proactive and rely on self help instead of searching for handouts. The schools unfortunately still remain close. Private school teachers in another county Grand Bassa have begun protesting to quit their jobs over the continual closure of schools.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

AirAsia 8501: Human error or weather?

AirAsia is a low cost airlines that is privately owned and is honorably mentioned as one of the least accident prone low cost airlines crisscrossing Southeast Asia, Australia, Japan, India and Pacific Islands. It's popularity has grown since its first launch in 1993 by Tony Fernandes current CEO. AirAsia is also one of very few low cost airlines operating in Asia. It is as the media describes, "the Easy Jet of Asia"

Are Pilots pressured to fly in bad weather?

AirAsia is the latest and second Malaysia based airline to disappear under freakish circumstances. Once again, Malaysian aviation authorities are scrambling to find out what caused and how could flight 8501 go missing on a short distance trip from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore. The distance from Singapore to Indonesia is only two hours away from each other and flight path is somewhat parallel to coast of Malaysia and Indonesia. The question remains how can a medium size airplane with 162 passengers go missing not only off the radar but above the skies without anyone seeing it?

Desperate search for missing AirAsia flight

The airbus 320 design is a huge plane not on the same scale as Titanic but large enough to raise eyebrows and have observers scratching their heads if it suddenly vanished out of thin air. In a similar route to Malaysian flight 370, the pilot relayed his next move to the control tower before the flight disappeared off radar. In this case, QZ 8501 was attempting to ascend to some 30,000 feet to avoid clouds as a huge storm was gathering overhead. In most storm prone flying, travelers and pilots use their common sense and judgement when deciding to fly. Some pilots choose to cancel flights to avoid uncontrollable weather or thunder clouds that AirAsia faced. However, many pilots will manage with light rain or minimum thunderstorms to fly to their next destinations. Perhaps thinking that the flight could beat the centuries old monsoon clouds, the AirAsia pilot took the chance to stir the plane towards Singapore.

In depth  diagram of Airbus 320. The 320 is used by Delta, United, US Airways and Malaysian Airlines 

The search is now on for missing QZ8501. Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, U.S. and several neighboring countries are searching the route, coasts and the forests for any signs of the plane. There was some reports that smoke had been spotted in nearby Borneo. Many family members are hoping that somehow their relatives survived. Now Indonesian investigators are saying that there appears to be airplane emergency exit doors and life vest debris found in the East Java Sea. Now the task to recover possible debris begins with caution.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Central Africa at the end of the year

Displaced children at school in Bangui, Central African Republic. Photo by Africa and her diaspora.

A few days before the new year, Central African Republic is in a semi peace transition. The two rebel groups that have caused destruction across the country for most of 2014 has ebbed their ferocious clashes and war across the CAR. Muslims and Christian Central Africans have been displaced within the capital Bangui and in smaller towns and villages now deserted by fleeing residents. Civilians on both sides of the fraternal war have suffered and lost mothers, fathers, children, aunts and uncles. Both rebel groups have claimed to fight on behalf of the people and condemned former President Francoise Bozize of corruption and marginalization at the expense of the country's prosperity or redistribution of wealth. CAR, despite the signing of a peace agreement by Anti Balaka and Seleka officially ending dangerous battles in civilian areas, is left with a huge security problems and shaking political foundations, Hundreds of thousands of Central Africans still remain displaced internally and in neighboring countries ie Niger and Congo-Brazzaville.

 Nocturnal cultural event/concert meant as therapy for audience and performers

The rebels have been hesitant to disarm or return to civilian life. Anti Balaka rebels still raid civilian travelers and war torn towns around and further away from Bangui. Muslim Central Africans have been facing months of displaced in enclaves in Bangui and elsewhere. UN peacekeepers have tried to aid civilians as much as they can on the ground alongside African Union and minute French troops. The UN has reiterated the need to halt the violence in CAR and return normalcy to the country immediately. Many UN observers and AU monitors fear CAR's ebbing violence will spark more civilian deaths. The current Central African government has managed to calm civilians' fear of being abandoned and at the mercy of both rebel groups. Central Africans in Bangui, abroad in France and other Francophone countries have highlighted the beauty of Central African culture in spite of the war through civilian eyes through creative arts, cultural nights, music and eyewitness accounts as forms of therapy for the performers and those back home caught up in the insanity. 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Cuba and United State: Diplomacy still works

Cuban doctors who arrived in Brazil last year to provide medical treatment and aid for Brazilians were met with racism by some Brazilians. Nevertheless, the Cuban doctors didn't let ignorance or racism get in the way of helping their neighbors and the thousands of Brazilians who are grateful for Cuba's assistance. 

Cuba is one of many countries both praised and admired by the world. It holds the reputation for being despised by American politicians even Congressman Marco Rubio, whose parents come from Cuba has condemned the so called thawing of U.S.-Cuban relations since 1959. The Castro Brothers have had to work around tightropes to keep the Caribbean country from total economic comatose since the beginning of 54 year old embargo on Cuba. Of the two brothers, Raul Castro has made the most compromises in diplomatically engaging the U.S. at international events and an 18th months long secret negotiations. Raul shook hands briefly with President Obama during Nelson Mandela's funeral and has proven to be more lenient on budding rapprochement with the U.S. than his famous brother Fidel.

America and Cuba Now want to be friends

Fidel Castro is one of the very few if not the only foreign leader to outlive 50+ years of a crushing U.S. embargo, hundreds of CIA assassination attempts, being labeled as both terrorist and an existential threat of the United States, still being protected and admired by ordinary people and other world leaders and ruling for decades to safely reach retirement. He has become a legend within his own right despite his shortcomings.

The Cuban people have continued on with life and managed to find creative ways to eradicate poverty while connecting to the rest of the world through trade, economic cooperation, political amnesty, famed healthcare aid abroad and have friends in high places outside the U.S. sphere of influence. Cuba's friends include China, Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, many African and Asian countries who have praised Cuba's success in eliminating illiteracy (that was once above 40%), its longstanding revolution, providing technical and physical support for neighboring Caribbean countries in terms of trade and economic development. Supporting liberating and developmental movements across Africa, Caribbean and the Americas and has offered aid to many countries in need of improving social wellbeing. The tiny Carribean nation has served as an inspiration to many countries suffering from the aftershocks of Western intervention and consequences of the Cold War choices and ideology. Its an inspiration that the U.S. has tried to downplay and crush for years.

Case of the Cuban 5

PS there are a few unfinished business between Cuba and the United States concerning high profile prisoners. A Cuban spy Gerardo Hernandez currently in prison for 16 years is still uncertain about his future. So are the Cuban Five serving their prison sentences in Miami after being convicted of spying for the Cuban government in 1990s. Than there is Assata Shakur, a former Black Panther revolutionary fighter who was wrongly accused of killing a New Jersey police officer in 1970s. Refusing to serve a then six year prison sentence, Shakur broke out of prison in 1979 leaving the United States to an ironic freedom in Cuba where she lives to this day. An arrest warrant is still out for her and if she returns to the U.S., she may face arrest.

Assata Shakur: Eyes of the Rainbow documentary on her life

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

El asesinato policia y la teoria choas en Nueva York?

Un horror antes de la navidad. Que penga de hijos y familias sin sus papas. La tensión entre del alcalde Bill De Blasio y la policía nueva york crecimiento por cada hora. La policía vuelvan sus espalda contra al alcalde durante su llegada al hospital donde de descansan antes de muertos. Se incluyo a la comisaria policial Bretton quien condenado al Alcalde De Blasio por los muertos y al sentimiento anti-policía atraves a la ciudad. Los nueva yorks no son sorpresas por la manera de Bill Bretton o al alcalde anterior Rudy Guilani. Guilani acusado del sentimiento anti-policía en la "propaganda negra" por la media y otras organizaciones que luchan por la justicia y derechos humanos de afrodescendientes. El procurador general Eric Holder llamada muertos un “asesinato.”

Unos de manifestaciones contra la brutalidad policial en Nueva York. La foto de periódico NY Observor. 

Lo que paso en Nueva York no es una sorpresa. Las familias de policías Rafael Ramos y Wenjian Liu devastados. Sus vecinos y la mayoría de Brooklyn están lamentándoles. Todavía, la mayoría del pueblo ha enojada después de cuatros muertos de estadounidense afrodescendiantes. Hace el agosto, manifestantes no creen que la policía o al gobierno discuten a la injusticia dentro del país. Por dos siglos, los cuerpos y humanidades de estadounidenses afrodescendiantes han vistas como menos humanos. Cuando los africanos lucharon por su dignidad contra la sistema de supremacía blanca, se acusados del terrorismo y la violencia (durante las sesentas) por las instituciones estatales.

Ahora, el estado muestra su empatía para dos policías que mato en su carro en Brooklyn hace tres días. Se lamentan sus muertos mientras se grita a maldiciones contra al asesino muerto. Se mata su mismo en la estación del tren mientras corrido de la policía. El asesino, Ismaiyl Brinsley  llegada en Nueva York de Baltimore, la gran ciudad de Maryland cerca del DC. Lo creía que se probó a matar su novia en Baltimore después de un argumento. Se tenía alguna familia en Brooklyn pero no era residente de Nueva York.  Brinsley llamada por el muerto de la policía para la venganza de Eric Garner y Mike Brown. Estadounidenses de varias etnicidades (especialmente grupos anti-gobiernos) amenacen a matar a la policía. Se condenado a la policía utilicen fuerza agresiva y abusos contra la gente. La policía representa del estado, una extensión del complexo industrial militar para al pueblo.   Esos sentimientos no premisos a muertas policías. 

Monday, 22 December 2014

Jürgen Todenhöfer back from ISIS state

Jurgen Todenhofer: "IS im Siegerausch" from BannenRepublik via Die Gefahr in German

Jürgen TodenhöferJournalist, author and former German politician recently returned home after spend 10 days inside the self proclaim caliphate or ISIS state spread across Mosul to Raqaa, Syria. One of a few perhaps the only Western journalist who was able to get up close to ISIS fighters and self proclaimed officials, Todenhofer was able to see first hand daily life in ISIS controlled "Islamic" state. Willing to listen to both sides in the conflicts across Syria, Iraq and other countries in Middle East or Levant, he was given unheard of access to families, private homes and able to travel throughout ISIS occupied territory interviewing both militants, terrorists and civilians caught up in the conflict.

Jurgen Todenhofer far right from an image posted to his Facebook page. The image was republished by the German news site Bild

Todenhofer is not a stranger to Iraq or Syria. He previously published a book titled Why Do You Kill Zaid? about the Anglo-American invasion and occupation from the perspectives of ordinary Iraqis and coming to understand the effects of the war, destruction and racism in Iraqi society in the before and after the 2003 invasion. Without the aid of Iraqi police or relying on military escorts or serving as an embedded journalist, Todenhofer gained the trust and empathy of the Iraqi people he visited. He has traveled throughout the region during some 20 years and has lived in Iraq, Syria among locals, speaks Arabic, deeply understands the history, culture, knowledge of the region in more ways than the parachute journalists gathering soundbites for the evening news on several Western media stations including German media

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Pakistan terrorism against children

Peshwar on a quiet day photo by Pukhtoogle

Terror attack in Peshwar against military children

Less than 24 hours after the Sydney hostage siege, Pakistan witnessed its own horrors. The Pakistani Taliban just as ruthless as its Afghan counterpart, ISIS, Al Qaeda and the other wahhabi terrorists, cowardly attacked a Pakistani military school in the mountainous city of Peshwar in North Central Pakistan. Not only was the military school attacked by Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers that caused chaos, 145 military students from 14 and up along with their female teacher were massacred in the bloodiest terror attack in years. Many of the military students appear younger than 20 years although there are students who are 18 and older. The childrens' parents, who are themselves military personnel were horrified. It is every parent's worst nightmare to loose their child to any violence or bury their children before their time. Neighbors, other city residents and officials were equally mortified. Pakistani government has vowed to go after the Taliban and other terrorists that have been causing hell on Earth in Peshwar and other parts of Pakistan for decades. The children and young adults were following in their parents' military tradition. Peshwar has a large military base and it is common to see military personnel and families about town and mingling with civilians. The same scene with military-civilians would be common in military friendly cities elsewhere in the world. Pakistani police had also stormed the school to save the children and the armed officers did manage to save some children at the school and in neighboring buildings that were placed on locked down. The pain of saying goodbye to 130+ children will never heal the parents' wounds or broken hearts.

Peshwar's Bomb blast history on drones and terror attacks

 American drones have also been haunting and terrifying the children of Pakistan as well as Yemen, Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan. Being caught up in the unmanned war against the terrorists, drones have been leveling civilian houses and taking young lives to the point that children are scared to venture outside to play after school. Peshwar has had the misfortunate of being associated with and mistaken at times for supporting terrorism. The city served as a way point for foreign fighters heading to Afghanistan during the 1979 Mujahideen war against the Soviet Union following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Even back then, the U,S, backed Mujahideen was considered extreme and called out for its terror towards the Afghan people. Many Peshwar residents have protested and condemned the drone strikes in their city, cross Waziristan and Northern Pakistan. Once again children as have been in the case in Nigeria with Boko Haram are equal targets for adult wars. 

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Australia says no to Islamophobia

Fighting the backlash against Muslims in Australia from Malaysian News Channel

Motives and reasons for why 50+ year old man Man Haron Monis took 17 people hostaged at the Lindt Chocolatier cafe still remains unclear. Monis has been described as a long wolf and referred to as a self proclaim cleric and Iranian refugee. Many Australians, politicians including the prime minister, the South Wales police, the state that Sydney is located in and half million Australian Muslims are all scratching their heads wondering why and what happened. The hostage taker/gunman in the words of the media didn't communicate his motivations nor send out public decrees during the hostage standoff or prior. Monis could've been agitated or suffering from everyday woes related to economic slumps and family troubles. The hostage standoff might've remained a local event have the fear and anxiety brought on by terrorism threats not pushed Sydney to the global spotlight. In the end, the heavily armed military like Australian police both South Wales and Sydney police stormed the Lindt Cafe with guns blazing and grenades launched. The blinding grenade flashes and gunfire ended the standoff. The gunman has been killed along with two innocent hostages: one a mother of three children. Being part of Asia sometimes known as Oceania, Australia often balances itself between its Asian neighbors near and far and its Western allies. News of the stand off has traveled to other Pacific islands and nations to shock of the region.

Australian Christians and Muslims and other religions are standing up for the country's Muslims condemning anti Muslim attitudes, xenophobia and Islamophobia that has been boiling across Australia for years. Ironically Australia is located south of the world's largest Muslim country in terms of population Indonesia and its prosperous neighbor Malaysia. At the same time, insurgencies by  Muslim minorities the Moros in Mindanao in Southern Philippines and Southern Thai Muslims in Thailand has made Australia nervous. Malaysia has been serving as a middleman for Thailand's negotiations with its insurgents despite the diplomatic strains. There are also students, visitors and families living and visiting Australia too. Interfaith meetings, vigils, PSAs and silent protests are appearing Sydney in the wake of the hostage siege. Ordinary Australians want to remind media, politicians who are quick to jump to conclusions or take a more confrontational approach that Australian Muslim are part of society and cultural fabric of Australia not the stereotyped scary strangers that mainstream media and pop culture make them out to be. A solidarity hashtag has been born out of it: #I'llridewithyou

As the 12 year long War on Terror takes its toll on the Middle East, Africa and other parts of the world, Muslims across the world are bearing the burnt for groups like ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah Hamas and even the lone wolf terrorist. Terrorism and security threats has made Muslims public enemy number one in many countries even the non political and non news junkie citizens who are Muslims are being generalized as potential sympathizers for terror groups before they are proven innocence and not even remotely associated with such gruesome groups and people. 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Sydney hostages against the windows

Sydney, Australia is known for many things. The Opera House, sea food, coastline, 2006 Summer Olympics and as a tourist destination for international visitors. Sydney is not the capital of Australia, Cantbaria is although Sydney does seem to be the most represented Australian city in the world. The other major cities often mentioned in the world media include Melbourne, Alice Springs, Perth and Adelaide. The city is generally safe despite the global financial crisis, poor neighborhoods and disparities between the wealthy, middle class and poor Australians.

A tense hostage situation has developed in downtown Sydney at the Lindt Cafe. Lindt is world famous Swiss chocolatier company noted for its extraordinary chocolates and cocoa products that are regularly sold abroad on all six continents. The tension is building with each passing minute between the hostages pressed up against the windows and police equally blocking the windows from view. A black flag with Arabic writing was mentioned to be placed on Cafe's other windows. Its still hazy and early to tell if the gunman/hostage takers are doing this in relation to ISIS or other takfiri groups or if its a local group. There has been no reports of gunfire nor has the hostage taker or takers have made their demands. Australia has supported NATO in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yugoslavia not to mention supports Western airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. However, Prime Minister Tony Abbot and the wider mainstream media have been cautious to connect the hostage situation to Australia's foreign policy although some pundits are attempting to draw the conclusions. CNN has decided not to air the hostage situation live to avoid any confusion or jump to conclusions as it has done in the past concerning terrorist attacks. Heavily armed local police have surrounded the Lindt Cafe and placed the surrounding buildings, Martin's Place where the cafe is located and the five mile radius on lock down. There are a lot of questions still up in the air. Australia had recently heightened its terror security level along with Britain and the U.S.

Sydney, Australia, a major international city home to famous landmarks and sunny winter weather.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Ukrainian govt workers dumped in trash bins

Trash bin lustration on rise across Ukraine

Ukrainian nationalists from Pravy Sector, some neo nazis and thugs have been assaulting and dumping former Ukrainian government workers from former members of Parliament to local city workers into trash bins in Kiev. Most of the former workers have been banned by the current Ukrainian government from ever working in any state institutions again. The ban was done to punish the workers who were associated with the overthrown government of Viktor Yanukovych and accused of corruption and stealing money from the Ukrainian people. The EU has condemned the treatment toward the former government workers. DEspite the critique from the EU, Ukrainian government has warned the right wing thugs and members to stop being "marginal morons" towards some hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who worked with the former government. The current Porchenko government is trying hard to bring Ukraine into the mold of the European Union but its attitudes towards the right wing groups harassing and terrorizing is making EU question Ukraine's commitment to Human rights values. Libya too banned and assaulted former government officials and workers associated with the Gaddhafi government. While the trash bin dumping may be hilarious, it has been going on for two months and the shame and humiliation experienced by workers and parliamentarians feeds into Ukraine's divisive politics and nationalist sentiment.

Almost lynching: Ukrainian radicals throw officials into trash bins

Waste Bucket Challenge by Ukrainian volunteers against a corrupt politicians

Vitaly Zhurvasky thrown in dumpster accused of corruption

Nestor Shufrych attacked and beaten in Odessa. 
He's a former minister of emergencies and parliamentarian. Even with a police officer present, Shufrych still suffered head injuries and scuffles with thugs

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Zaid Abu Ein: Even a minister isn't safe from the IDF

Palestinian Minister Zaid Abu Ein died during a non violent protest against the Israeli occupation yesterday near Ramallah after joining a small group of peacefual protesters marching against illegal Israeli settlements/colonies eating up Palestinian land. He was grabbed by the throat by an IDF soldier, shoved back and later choked on tear gas that was fired by IDF soldiers to disperse the crowd. Israeli military is trying to downplay the Abu Ein's confrontation with soldiers. Jerusalem Post has gone so far as to call the minister the favorite word of terrorist despite the peaceful methods used by ministers and other protesters during the demonstration.

Weekly non violent demonstrations are taking place across occupied West Bank against the occupation, continual construction of illegal Israeli settlements and violence by Israeli military and settlers. Still Israeli military and police use excessive force no different from American police. Violence towards Palestinians are often carried out by settlers both youth and adults using price tag attacks involving fires and vandalism by settlers on Palestinian lands, mosques, schools, houses and lives. IDF soldiers often turn a blind eye and have protected settlers from persecution for attacking and assaulting Palestinians or fighting and shooting at Palestinians or cursing foreign protesters who join Palestinians and Israeli peace activists in the weekly demonstrations. The most famous of the weekly non violent protests is Bilin and other smaller Palestinian towns across the West Bank.

Weekly Friday protests by the village of Bilin

5 Broken Cameras: Film about Iyad Burnot's struggle to simply record the non violent protests in Bilin

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Senegal helping Liberia to build highways

Operating Manager Mamadou Sow of Compagnie Sahelienne d'Enterprises signs the agreement contract to begin construction on a highway in Yekepa to Ganta, Liberia at the Public Works Ministry in Monrovia. Photo by Frontpage Africa online.

As Liberia gets back on its feet and its economy gradually materializes following the decrease of Ebola in the country, Liberia is returning to its construction projects in Monrovia and elsewhere across the country. Dry season is construction time in Liberia's major cities, towns and villages. Delays on highway and road construction is common across the country is often blamed on Ministry of Public Works slow operations and limited army of engineers needed to monitor and operate construction. Also urban planners have been slow to create a masterplan to Monrovia's rapid growth over the last 50 years. The same goes for other cities and villages across the countryside. The Public Works Ministry had recently undergone some reshuffling and an interim minister sacked following compliments by Liberians that the MPW's delays were causing long term problems around the country. The new minister Claude Langley has vowed to push Public Works to commit itself to finishing long overdue to projects.

Despite the slow construction, Liberia is moving forward with its mini construction boom. Senegalese construction company Compagne Sahelienne d'Enterprises based in Senegalese capital Dakar just finished signing a contract with Liberian government to build a major highway between mining town of Yekepa to Ganta, on the border of Guinea and Liberia, Chinese construction company Chico has built many roads in Liberia during the last couple of years. However, many Liberians noted that the streets and highways built by Chico often break up (literally) after a year or two from construction. CSE has a reputation across West Africa for building quality roads and not cutting corners (infrastructure wise and safety) as Chico has been accused of doing by ordinary Liberians using the built roads around Monrovia and countryside. The CSE has completed road works and highways across Sierra Leone, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Ghana over the past 40 years, Liberia has been partnering with its next door neighbors on joint construction projects across borders, economic trade and freedom of movement between peoples and products. Liberians are grateful and excited for the construction to commence, AreclorMital which operates the former mines in Yekepa has offered to pay for the highway construction. ArcelorMittal is one of the largest metal companies in the world.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Tortured Souls: CIA Torture Program on foreigners and US citizens

The CIA's decade long torture program from 9/11 onward has been released in full today by the U.S. Senate Investigations wing in an anxious and stress filled United States. Anxiety over the consequences of releasing the report on CIA Torture program was so strong, security was heightened at many American embassies and consulates across the world and American service personnel were warned to keep a low profile in many countries. While there have been no terror attacks on US soil, the media and government are taking the publication cautiously and as a security issues. The report includes graphic details by prisoners over several years highlighting the use of sleep deprivation, long term isolation (similar method used in prisons would be solitary confinement), use of psychological pain, locking prisoners in boxes, forced feeding, water board, exposure to the elements and a host of other techniques that are already known to the public and world. Other countries in Europe, Africa and Asia have aided in renditions and operated CIA black list sites for terror suspects and people suspected of aiding terrorist groups. As many know this was done physically and psychology break each prisoner down and confess. The countries were paid for their aid.

Khalid Muhammad, the mastermind or "Brains" behind 9/11 attacks along Abu Zabaydah and Al Libi are among the prisoners mentioned in the senate report who went through each or most of the torturous interrogations. A lesser known prisoner, American citizen and a Muslim convert, Brooklyn born Jose Padilla went through equal hell in isolation, interrogation, tortured and being held in prison for 12 years. Beginning in 2002, Padilla was accused and sentenced to 17 years in prison in Miami after being convicted of plotting with another Florida based co-conspirator, a dirty bomb attack in U.S. city that was discovered to not exist. His case has been retried throughout the years however the judges generally come to the same conclusion. His prison sentence remains intact. In one recent case, the judge extended the prison term by 4 years to 21 years. Sadly Padilla's case is not unique. There has been other U.S. citizens sent as prisoners to Guantanamo, kept in maxium security within the U.S. or to be tortured abroad as a result of the war on terror. Many have been accused of either supporting terrorists or supplying materials for terror attacks. Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and Florida college Professor Sami al Arian are two of the most well known Americans in prison under the current terror laws. Their families have been fighting the courts and police for years to reconsider their charges and maintain their family members' innocence. Al Arian's charges have been dropped by the federal court clearing the way for him to be release after a decade in prison on guilty charges. Dr. Siddiqui has yet to be release and faces reoccurring trials.

The West's Torture Farm in Uzbekistan ABC Australia

CIA's Italian Job: Italian Imam kidnapped by CIA and tortured in Abu Gharib

ISIS and its Takfiri ilks still causing havoc in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon. Some American and European youth are still sneaking off to join ISIS despite the consequences of war, violence towards women and children, personal harm and omnipresence of death. ISIS terrorists and its militants for the cause are the latest group of wanted terrorists on the never ending search by CIA, MI5, Mossad and other Western, Iranian and other intelligence agencies to halt the next coming terrorist attacks. CIA has tried in vain to cover up its torture program by rephrasing it as "enhanced interrogations" or outright lying and minimizing the damage caused.

U.S. Foreign Policy: Secret War of CIA on Latin American & Third World

This is not the first program nor the last used by the agency. Anyone alive during the 1960s and before the start of the Cold War post World War II would tell you that torture was used by CIA long before the agency became notorious for it in Latin American in 1970s when the agency and U.S. government supported indirectly and directly notorious torture techniques and methods carried out by Latin American dictatorial governments, military, paramilitary revolutionaries/counter revolutionaries and death squads against individual people and entire nations. The CIA torture programs and support for military dictators and death squads across Central and South America including the Caribbean share eerly similarities to today's tactics used in the name of the war on terror. The same justification was used to fight communism and overcome the Red Scare. In Latin American it became known as Operation Condor and now it is war on terror. 

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Intifada in the USA? Kind of

In Arabic, Intifada roughly translates into shaking off. Intifada has long been part of the Palestinian struggle and resistance for existence and recognition as a nation state and a people. While today the majority of the world recognizes Palestine as a llegitimate state even UNESCO and UN agree that Palestine is part of the world even if the merry go around negotiations have yet to reset. The United States and Israel have stubbornly refuse to recognize Palestine's official status as a state in occupied Palestinian lands of what reminds of Palestine pre 1967 borders.

Nationwide protests against police brutality and state tyranny from NY to Boston to Dallas and the Midwest
Intifada as a term and verb has been picked up by many protesters across the world since the First Palestinian Intifada in 1987 and following the Al Aqsa Intifada in 2000. Now a third Intifada has been growing and gaining momentum as a result of Israel's stubborness to reach a just negotiable and tolerable peace settlement with Palestine. The United States still continues to support and make excuses for Israel's brutalizing Gaza and illegal construction of illegal Jewish only settlements in Occupied East Jerusalem and West Bank. Most Americans have awoken to the double standards and one side gain Israel refuses from U.S. unnecessary financial and military support and lucrative trade relations. Ordinary Americans of all colors and sizes have highlighted the injustice faced by the Palestinians and Americans for decades and now the anger towards oppressive Israeli military policies have finally been openly compared to police policies visited upon African Americans and other Americans of color from Ferguson to New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Oakland, Boston, Miami, and even in small towns with small if not tiny numbers of non white Americans.

Forget social media march with your feet

Many die ins have been staged in major chain stores to remain onlookers and shoppers of the discrimination of African Americans within in the stores and disconnect between wealthy and middle class and poor in New York and elsewhere. Non violent protesters have turned to economics as part of the injustice faced by families and youth being pushed out of the major cities by gentrification, experiencing a rebirth of urban areas from millionaire real estate agencies coming in and building up expensive housing or renovating once run down areas that long term residents can't afford. This is coupled with the arrival of upper middle class, chic hipsters and tech company employees. While Manhattan becomes ridiculously expensive alongside San Francisco, Boston, LA, the inequality gaps increases. Everyone in the city and country matters.

Protest in Atlanta on Eric Garner verdict

The People are awake

From Coast to Coast and the South and Midwest to even London, France who recently saw French people come out to protest police brutality and now Greece, everybody and their parents are not afraid to call the police out on their militarization, the heavy handed tactics the use of force and racism and protection against persecution by the legal system and white supremacy system that allows some Americans to shut their eyes and say out of sight out of mind. The NYPD has been noted for remaining calm and letting the protesters move about freely around the city in 40 degree weather and rain to let the nation and the world who is watching the events from TVs and radios to word of mouth live know what is going on in the US. These protests now are no longer local they are turning into an intifada with momentum led by the youth, women, kids and under 50 crowd. Nightly protests have been ongoing for three days now in New York, Ferguson and Atlanta to similiar to the nightly protests (coinciding with work and school days) that took place in Syria during the early days of the Arab Spring. Americans have learned from the Syrian and Arab Spring protests that pressure and protests in numbers do matter and can lead to change if the commitment continues.

Nightime protest in Syria 2011: Time for Bashar to Leave chant

RT Espanol: Miles marchan en Grecia contra la brutalidad policial en vivo 

The United States is a huge country with a decentralized government so nationwide protests do not cause the kind of alarm bells that it would cause in France or London, Greece or Palestine. However, hundreds of thouands of Americans demanding justice from a final end to police brutality and violence to ending economic depression and woes that have plague the country has caused the pundits, mainstream media, politicians and President Obama to scratch their heads and wonder where the momentum came from. Local police have constrained themselves and even coordinated with a few protest leaders on minimizing violence while arrests have been made. There havent been too many incidences of execissive force similiar to Ferguson police's use of military style tactics during the August protests. The protesters have vowed to be back on the streets come Monday. The Republican controlled Congress have also been quietly observing the protests in Washington, DC while attempting to make the President's immigration and economic reform legislation impossible to pass. Congress will be focused on its work while the protesters shot in the background. Authors and social economic analysts have been predicting and suggesting the United States and the West might be headed towards social collapse via financial crisis in the near future.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Eric Garner NYC Verdict, No indicment

New York  Court decided to play the safe route and also go for a No indicment decision in the death of Eric Garner in August.

Eric Garner, a 44 year old African American father in Staten Island, New York suffered from occasional bouts of asthma and was known by his neighbors  as a gentle and calm person. Like Michael Brown, Eric Garner was an imposing person, hefty and over 6 ft. Prior to his death in July this year, Garner had played a positive role in his neighbors and friends' lives helping out with whatever they needed and working to mediate potential conflicts between youths in the area. On July 17, NYPD officers confronted him about illegal vending in Garner's case selling cigarette singles just one cigarette tax free. The NYPD like Ferguson, LAPD, Oakland and other police departments has been known to use excessive force, over step their boundaries, racism and racial profiling towards non white youth, men and women going back decades. Two NY residents whose deaths rocked New York were Amadou Diallo shot 47 times by the NYPD in 1999 while 23 year old Amadou was reaching for his wallet to show his ID and 16 year old Kimani Gray shot dead on his grandmother's front porch by officers after being chased by them and accused of having a weapon when the teen clearly didn;t. Deaths in police custody or at the hands of the police are common in New York City. Many mothers who have lost their sons have called on the national government for intervention toward seeking justice for their children. Many police victims' humanity needs to be emphasize to show that they are people with faces and loving families.

 Se Vende en NYC the vending and financial capital of America

Now, very few people sell individual cigarettes in many large cities across the country. New York City in general is known world wide as the street vending capital of the U.S. The NY food trucks are legends in their own right and would be hard to imagine the city without hotdog, hamburger or carne asada venders in their trucks or carts going across Manhattan or Queens to serve hungry customers youth, tourists, police and even businesspeople alike. Alongside the vendors are many hawkers ie people selling everything from toys to jewelry on city streets and corners. Every world city has hawkers as well who are trying to provide for themselves or families instead of stealing or committing punishable crimes. For the most part street venders are left alone by the police. Hawkers are regarded as underground sellers or illegal sellers depending on the viewpoints of whose looking for them.

Video of Eric Garner being confronted by police

Eric Garner was accused of selling illegal cigarettes despite selling and not harm anyone else on the street corner in Staten Island. The officers automatically arrested him and placed in a choke hold after struggling to handcuff him as Garner argued he was doing nothing wrong and that he couldn't breathe. The choke hold arrest and death was captured on film and posted to youtube soon after. To the shock and horror of neighbors and the wider city, Garner was placed in an unnecessary chokehold by five police officers and the fact that he was asthmatic and asthma can be triggered by lack of air or stressful situations to didn't faze the officers involved. The officers have been investigated for their involvement since and with the Ferguson protests from August until now, NYC court has been hesitant to deliver a final verdict. Protests erupted on Staten Island and in the other four boroughs but not to the existent of  Ferguson following Michael Brown's death one month after. The connections between the two have been emphasized by many protesters and neighbors since.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Boko Haram's brutality against all religions

Some 200 people killed in Kano Mosque attacks

Boko Haram like ISIS have shown it has no regard for any religion no matter if it is Islam or Christianity. Two days ago, Boko terrorists attacked the 15th century Grand mosque (one of the oldest) in Northern Nigerian city of Kano, one of the largest city in the region killing over 100+ people during prayers. In scenes reminisce of Baghdad or other parts of Iraq, bombs and gunfire were used against worshipers  while other city residents were blindsided and stunned by the powerful explosions that horrified Kano and all of Nigeria. The emir of Kano Alhaji Muhamadu Sanusi of the former Kano emirate, survived the terrorist attack along with the imam. Boko had targeted the emir for death after he urged Nigerians to fight and take up arms against Boko Haram. President Goodluck Jonathan has continuously reassured Nigerians about the government's race to halt Boko Haram from future and the next coming attacks. For many Nigerians, the government's slow response to new terrorist attacks across the country including suicide bombings by Boko that killed some 30 people, the war against the terrorists is too late. President Jonathan has also halted the United States from training Nigerian army troops following the week of violence that has paralyzed the country. The U.S. has long trained African militaries across the continent particularly in West Africa where the U.S. has made and broken alliances with countries from Liberia to Senegal, Ivory Coast to Ghana.

Breaking News: Explosions at the Grand Mosque of Kano near Emir's Palace

Cameroon successfully overpowering Boko Haram

Boko Haram has taken its choas cross the border into Cameroon battling with the Cameroon military have been pushing the organization back and trying to prevent terrorist attacks from spilling into Cameroon. When Boko militants and terrorists seized foreign workers from China, Italy and the wife of Cameroonian Vice PM, Cameroonian rescue team was able to free all of the hostages and return them to safety. Cameroonian soldiers also killed 104 Boko Haram fighters following reported massacres of local civilians in Northern Cameroon. Keep in mind Cameroon has not experience war and any military violence in recent decades and has remain peaceful despite the violence next door. .

Sky News: Cameroon Army against Boko Haram

Ordinary Nigerians. Christian, Muslims and non religious have long been terrorized by Boko Haram through physical and physiological warfare. Men, women and children are tired of waiting for the government to start being a step ahead of the terrorist organization. Nigerians in both North and Southern Nigeria have taken security and protection into their own hands. Vigilante groups have formed in many towns and villages in the northern regions and often clashed with Boko Haram to protect themselves and their families from gruesome violence nationwide. The vigilante responses has been welcomed by local residents and local state officials. Heroic vigilantes have paid the price for standing up to Boko Haram on several occasions. Many vigilantes have been massacred and kidnapped and their families threatened. Feeling emboldened by the bloody week, Boko Haram invaded another Northern state Yobe and its capital Damaturu using heavy weapons and artillery. The Nigerian government has redoubled its efforts to defeat Boko Haram. Many Nigerians are not holding their breathes and vigilantes are once again preparing to battle with the terrorists.