Sunday, 27 December 2015

Okinawa resistance to U.S. Military in Pacific Islands

Okinawa's place in the world. Okinawa borders Taiwan to its West, Phillipines to its south, Japan its to its North and hundreds of thousands of islands, atolls and isolated regions are surrounding it. Okinawa like many Pacific islands has a long history of being independent, with its own local language, cuisine and culture that mainlanders are still getting to know.

When people think of Okinawa the first thing that comes to mind is the world's oldest people living a beautiful island life in tranquility thanks to a healthy great cuisine. The people of Okinawa have been on nearly daily protest for the past 25+ years against the United States Military base on the small island. By extension many Okinawans have condemned U.S. militarism on their island and in the wider Pacific island regions. The U.S. maintains hundreds of military bases most unnecessary on thousands of islands around the Pacific region. The Okinawan base is the most strategic in Japan. From the tiny nation of Diego Garcia, whose indigenous Chiagosian people were forcibly removed in the 1940s and have been banned from returning to their own homeland on military grounds. Diego Garcia, Bikini Atolls and other Pacific islands were were turned into nuclear testing grounds (first the hydrogen bombs and other military WMDs) and Western military bases of operations to this day. Diego Garcia like Guam, American Samoa, Micronesia and other smaller overshadowed islands have become colonial territories (referred to as commonwealth or territories) of the United States, Britain and France. The U.S. insists that the Pacific Islanders from geographically strategic and resource rich nations need protection from their large neighbor Uncle Sam either from Chinese military expansion or the threat of terrorism. Even if the island nations and local people have no need for a military, oppose wars and conflicts in all its forms or have good relations with China, Russia, Japan and both Koreas, the U.S. government makes its case even louder for why the American presence is needed. Japan which for the last 70 years has had a pacifist constitution is also reestablishing its military and seeking to expand its defense policy outside the country to neighboring islands. Japan too has been criticized by Okinawans for allowing the base expansion and its growing nationalist militarism. Japanese citizens have also protested the government's defense policies and current bicketing with China over the resource rich Sekoku islands in the South China Sea.

Over 20 years ago, a local Okinawan girl was raped and beaten by U.S. personnel off base. The soldiers were only slightly punished for their brutal crime.  It enraged, disgusted and sparked the continuation of the long lasting anti-U.S. military and militarism protests by concerned and peace activist Okinawan parents, families and residents. Weekly and now daily protest have placed the reoccurring rapes of local women and militarism at the forefront of Okinawan/Japanese politics. Protesters make Japanese government officials nervous and military personnel uneasy. The U.S. military has a history of protecting its soldiers from being charged with serious crimes and from facing prosecution by local courts in hundreds of countries around the world. This too angers many local people who even work at the U.S. military bases and residents who are not fond of foreign military and governments dictating local politics and foreign policy. Okinawa has felt this weight for decades.

The Eisa dance, a famous folk dance performed in Naha, Okinawa. The Eisa dance is part of a larger 10,000 cultural parade that occurs every year on the island. Photo by Golden Jipangu

Although it is part of Japan, Okinawa known as Ryukyu islands has always felt strongly about independence. Okinawans have their own local culture, music and language that's entirely different from mainland Japan. Okinawa was an independent nation the Ryukyu Kingdom for much of its history until 1607 when it was conquered by Japan and made into a vassal state of the mainland land. In 1879, Okinawa officially became a Japanese prefecture. It ceased to exist as a sovereign nation. Like the Native Hawaiian or Taiwan independentists, Okinawans have reiterated that their island's heritage and culture are unique and their self determination was interrupted by Japanese occupation and colonialism. The U.S. began militarizing Okinawa and other Pacific islands after World War II. While some older Okinawans might've brushed off the military presence as a welcome from imperial Japan at the time, many younger Okinawans are abhorred by the presence and the cultural insensitivity of some military personnel show to Okinawan society. Today many Okinawans speak Japanese but still cling onto the local Ryukyu languages. There are bilingual and sometimes trilingual signs on the island. Okinawan cuisine has long been influenced by Chinese and South Asia and its recognized for its unique taste across Japan. diverse over the years like many island nations who have people from around the world coming to its shores. 

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Cameroon, Tunisia and Egypt terror attacks

Cameroon: The horror of Boko Haram

Cameroon is another calm and stable African country being dragged into the path of Boko Haram's gruesome terror attacks. A suicide bomber murdered 10 innoncent people in Nigue, a Cameroonian suburb in the border town of Fotokol in Northern Cameroon. Nigue's residents had been going about their day and business as many border towns do on a daily basis. Suicide bombings and terrorism is nearly unheard of in Cameroon or other Western African countries outside of Nigeria. Boko Haram like ISIS makes no distingution between armies and civilians in their violent strategy to win territory or new recurits. Boko Haram uses coercion and pyscology terror to kidnap and attack its victims from students at school to women and children in marketplaces. The Cameroonian army has been searching town to town and house to house.

Shaped like a rooster and named for shrimps, Cameroon has been aiding Nigeria in its fight against the takfiri and wahhabist Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria particulary in Maidiguru, along the Cameroon-Nigerian border towns and even Lake Chad region. Cameroon has been political stable for a few decades now. It is a former French colony that was once split into two countries along superimposed colonial lingustic lines, a French and English speaking Cameroon parts.

Tunisia: Killing shepards

From Cameroon to Tunisia, takfiri terrorists are attacking people in rural areas who have no connections to politics or the events happening in the cities. In the Tunisian province of Sidi Bouzid, a 15 year old shepard Mabruk Soltani was brutally beheaded after warning his neighbors about a suspicious ISIS member in their town. Mabruk was first kidnapped along with another 14 year old shepard. Already traumatized by the beheading, the 14 year old was ordered under duress to carry Mabruk's head to his family wrapped in a plastic bag. The murder/beheading has horrified and disgusted Tunisia as a whole. Even Tunisians who are religious have condemned the young teen's murder as a vile crime. The murder was claimed by ISIS' Tunisian affliate Jund al Khalifa. Jund is also based in Algeria. ISIS has attacked Tunisia before in June during a shooting at a hotel in Sousse, the resort town on Tunisia's east coast. The attack left 36 people dead both tourists and Tunisians dead. The Tunisian government has vowed to not rest until every ISIS and takfiri militant and terrorists in Tunisia and neighboring Libya are dead. While karma may take awhile to catch up to ISIS and Jund al Khalifa, the Tunisian army has been doing its utmost to halt future terrorist attacks in Tunisia. It has also been fighting takfiri militants and insurgents in Libya who have crossed into Tunisia. Libya's current instability (caused by NATO war) as Gaddhafi warned, has given the worst kind of takfiris a green light to caused damage and chaos in Tunisia and further south in Mali, Nigeria and Cameroon too.

Egypt: Sinai culture overshadowed by forgotten insurgency

In the Sinai Peninsula on Egypt's triangle shaped piece that connects the African country to Asia, Egyptian police are dealing with an ongoing low intensity insurgency. The Sinai insurgency is local and began originally after the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. The Sinai is known more for the resort towns along the Red Sea particularly Sharm El Sheik. Also included on the usual visitor's list to the region is the St. Katherine Monastery located on Mt. Sinai. It is also the entry and exit point for Egyptian and foreign ships on the trade routes between the Red and Mediterranean seas. The Israelis occupied the Sinai Peninsula with illegal settlements and colonialists from 1967-1973 following the Yom Kippur War. Historically, the Sinai has been known for its Badawi or Bedouin people, culture and history. The Sinai Bedouins have existed for centuries but are on the fringe of Egyptian society according to geography. Many Bedouins are being generalized and associated with local ISIS and Al Qaeda affiliated groups who have been attempting to overthrow local government and cause chaos in the Peninsula. Like Yemen, Sinai civilians have been on the receiving end of heavy handed counter terrorism measures by Egyptian police and government. On the other hand, local Egyptian police who have been praised for fighting against the takfiri terrorists and groups are also being killed just the same. Sinai's local culture and image as a tourist destination has been transformed by the recent downing of a Russian airline and ISIS threats. Similiar threats are being repeated by Boko Haram in Cameroon and Nigeria. 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Saudi Arabia could go broke in 5 years

The article below was originally published on African Globe, an independent news site focusing on Africa, economics, culture and African created development. For those who study the petroleum markets, the fear of an economic collapse caused by peak oil was a long time coming. The Persian Gulf countries have long been advised to diversify their economies instead of solely relying on petroleum to enjoy its high standard of living, continual economic growth and social development. Despite Saudi Arabia having a reputation as the wealthiest of the Gulf monarchies or Arabian Peninsula and being a generous aid donor around the world, poverty still exists among ordinary Saudis across the country. Poorer Saudis are ignored by the public face of the Saudi monarchary and the Saudi media rarely reports on poverty. Not everyone in The Kingdom has connections to the royal families or are grossily rich, oozing petrodollars. Poverty is not unique to Saudi Arabia. The United Arab Emirates and Qatar also have poor districts and citizens. Again, the poverty is hidden under and behind the glittering skyscrapers, flashy malls, designer purses and bling-bling cars. Petroleum has been a lifeline for the Saudi government and society for over 70 years. Since 1940s. when Roosevelt met with Ibn Saud the head of the al Saud family to offer protection for the royal family, collaborate on the construction and extraction of oil, the Kingdom has been transformed from a peripheral, quiet peninsula into a major regional and world power with the final say on how the world's petro economy will function. Companies such as Saudi Aramaco, Chevron and other gas companies have profited 20 times over from Saudi petroleum. While gas prices are fantastic for car owners in the non OPEC countries, for Saudi Arabia it can lead to financial problems and social choas. Eastern Saudi Arabia has been protesting against the corruption and monarchy's crushing rule since the 2011 revolution that swept through the region. The East is home to a large number of Saudi Shias who also share space with Sunnis. The Shias have rightfully bemoaned marginalization and being repressed by local police and the government. On top of the petrol prices leading to a wider crisis is the Saudi government's continual and shameless support for takfiri and wahhabist groups within The Kingdom and around the world particularly its not so quiet support for ISIS, Al Qaeda and local takfiri affiliates in Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq. At the same time, Saudi is also pushing to regain its regional influence and power in by playing on religious solidarity with its co religious both far and wide. The Saudis may be playing devil's advocate here. The law of Karma has caught up with Saudi Arabia. Once again, the petroleum price drop is nothing new. The older generation can look back at the Oil embargo/petro criss in the 1970s as a casestudy in how politics and economics intersect. Enjoy the read below. 
Saudi Arabia or The Kingdom (KSA) position in the world. Long connected to Africa and Asia, the Kingdom shares cultural connections, food and language between both continents. Western media has often seen Saudi Arabia as mysterious and incomprehensible.

Believe It Or Not, Saudi Arabia Could Go BROKE In 5 Years!

AFRICANGLOBE – Cheap oil is great for American consumers and Hummer owners of all nationalities. It’s not so good for some oil-rich countries whose economies live and die by barrels of light, sweet crude. Case in point: Saudi Arabia. The OPEC leader could be out of money in five years if oil stays at or below $50 a barrel, according to a new report from the International Monetary Fund.
As of this writing, the OPEC Basket — an average price per barrel of 12 OPEC producing countries — was less than $40. That’s terrible news for a country that earns a great majority of its income, something like 90 percent, from the export of oil.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil producer and a major sponsor of terrorism

And the Saudis aren’t alone. The Sultanate of Oman and the Kingdom of Bahrain could see their economies crumble as a result of cheap oil. According to the IMF, the region is set to lose some $360 billion this year alone.
To balance its growing budget, Saudi Arabia needs oil to sell at around $106 per barrel. In one year, the Middle Eastern kingdom saw its budget deficit balloon from less than 2 percent last year — the lowest in the world — to an estimated 20 percent this year. It could go as high as 50 percent by 2020. The country still has $700 billion in cash reserves, but it’s blowing through its stash quickly. Government spending cuts are inevitable.
Bahrain also has about five years of life left at this price, but it’s in even more trouble after years of spending and borrowing. Iran and Iraq are in a little bit better position, and could survive for another decade at $50 a barrel, but destabilization in the region (namely ISIS) is also taking its toll.

Riyad the Saudi capital. Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s richest countries. (Ps: Still has poverty that goes unreported)

The only countries in decent shape in the region are Kuwait, which has a break-even cost of $49 per barrel, and Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which have both been stashing cash for years. These three countries can survive 25 to 30 years with prices this low.
It’s been a bad year for the Saudis, who started 2015 with the death of Saudi King Abdullah. The huge Saudi royal family owns all of the six oil fields located in their kingdom, and the depressed prices are sure to hit the family’s pocketbooks. At the beginning of the year, the 15,000 members of the Saudi royal family were estimated to be worth a staggering collective $1.4 trillion. That number is sure to drop as the oil depression wears on.
In short: cheap oil could further destabilize a region in the throes of strife and warfare. The Saudis and UAE have been a key exception, with economic growth, political stability, and leadership closely allied with the United States. So this fact is likely a bitter pill to swallow: One reason the price of oil is so low is because of the USA’s own oil-drilling boom, which has cut OPEC imports into the country by half. Hummer drivers rejoice.
By: Mark Kurlyandchik

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Terrorism Theirs and Ours Eqbal Ahmed

Eqbal Ahmad Terrorism: Theirs and Ours Prophetic Speech from 1998 

Originally presented and recorded at the University of Colorado. Boulder. Skip forward to 6:35 where the speech starts.

The prophetic speech on terrorism above was originally given by Eqbal Ahmad in 1998 at the University of Colorado, Boulder in the United States. Ahmad was a Pakistani-American author, university professor, columnist, documentarian, anti-imperialist, third world activist and pacifist who spoke calmly of the double standards of U.S and European foreign policy across the world from Latin America to Asia. His speech Terrorism Theirs and Ours was made into a novella that examined the indepth history, causation and environments that leads to terrorism. He pinpointed that governments' lack of a full definition of terrorism, extreme double standards, state terrorism (by Western governments as well as friendly pro West govs), proxy wars/covert ops, low intensity conflicts and trauma, psychology, failure of the world powers to hear and demand justice for the world's people who have been wronged for years, the terror groups' own failures to avoid excessive violence against civilians at the expense of their specific causes are all part of what creates the conditions for terrorism. Envy and jealous has little to do with terror attacks. Military solutions for fighting terror groups do not work. Among the warnings Ahmad gave in avoiding increased terrorism in the world and violence in traumatized, war torn regions of Global South countries was for Global North or the West to stop practicing extremes of double standards, to humanize terror victims in Middle East and Asia and understand that terrorism is not irrational nor exists in a vacuum. Terrorism is normally used as a last resort and an act of desperation for resistance, armed groups and traumatized people (including lone wolves) who feel the world has ignored their pain and treated them as unworthy victims and Western victims as worthy and human. Ahmad equally criticized and condemned terrorist groups for using disgusting violence against  innocent men, women and children and the general public who are not to blame for their governments' state terrorism. Nor acts of war against civilians in conflict zones. Sadly, Eqbal Ahmad passed away in 1999. When his speech was aired on alternate Radio in 2001 following the September 11th acts, many listeners assumed Ahmad was commenting on current events. His speech is terrifyingly relevant and the wisdom still hits hard after all these years. Enjoy the listen and digest.

Michael Kountouris, Greek political cartoonist and one of the few mourning cartoonists for Paris to remember the world's trauma caused by terrorist violence and war

Monday, 23 November 2015

Media terror coverage causing panic worldwide

An injured evacuated by paramedics during the early hours of the morning following the Paris terror attacks. Photo from Portland Pressheald.

Everyone's blood pressure and stress levels have gone up since the recent terror attacks in Beirut, Baghdad, Paris and Bamako. People who already had high blood pressure from long distance flights and traveling are now equally paranoid following the Russian Metrojet crash in the Sinai. Add in the Paris and Bamako attacks, the world looks terrifying. The constant media coverage of the before, during and after the Paris attacks continues to keep French and other Western as well as Russian and Malian government on their respective toes. The local police, Europol and Interpol have turned their attention intensely to terrorism and national security at any cost. Police chiefs are holding daily press conferences to comfort the public and the media over the ongoing situation. The ordinary citizens are feeling the full effects of excessive security search and frisk and the 24 hour security camera scrutiny everywhere they go. Residential neighborhoods are also caught in the climate of fear. CNN has been overusing its Breaking News segment for over a week now and has gone to great lengths to deliver minute detail on the step by step police raids, procedures and investigations. While the 24 hour coverage is helpful for many survivors, beavered families and distraught friends and news junkies (for lack of a better word) seeking solace and closure, such coverage is having another affect on global audiences. The coverage is causing global panic even if the mainstream stations and foreign correspondents brush the overreaction of police forces and governments aside. Local crime is being redefined as a form of potential terrorism no matter if it is a stressed person taking their anger out on the streets or a suspicious looking or nerve wrecked people who hyperventilate at the sight of security checkpoints.

Le Carillon Bar and solitary reflection. The day after the brutal terrorist attack. Photo by UK Business Inside

RT News The Big Picture: Terrorism fear mongers profiting from mainstream media

Fear and xenophobia

The most wanted man in Belgium and by extension the world: Salah Abdelsalam still in hiding. Europol and interpol are stressing the public out trying to find him before another attack takes place.

Brussels' metro stations remain closed. Public transport is the lifeline and a necessity for many Brussels residents and in many European capitals, metro stations are a necessity for local city residents not an exception. The military has now been integrated into public places and city centers alongside the police as a must. Reporters rarely ask why some citizens' family trees, religion, travels or ticks need to be scrutinized by the national security gatekeepers and terror experts each time a terrorist attack occurs. The European and American governments want to make sure the panicked people understand that the terrorist threat and ISIS is no laughing matter. While the humanization of victims from the terror attacks play in a loop on TVs across the world, Islam and Muslims have been condemned for not saying or doing enough to halt ISIS or terrorism. Muslims around the world from Pakistan to Malaysia to France and Sudan outright cursed, condemned, isolated and even fought against ISIS and its Takfiri cousins. Kurds, Syrians and yes the Syrian government, Iran, Iraq and Jordanian forces have all been fighting against ISIS from day one. Even Hamas has no respect for ISIS and have fought for over a year to halt ISIS propaganda frm flowing freely in Occupied Gaza and Palestine. For the Israel first supporters and Zionists who want to equate ISIS and Hamas bear in mind that they are not allies nor can tolerate each other. Ironically Hamas and Israel do have one thing in common, they both want to prevent ISIS from taking hold in their societies.

Fox News using immigration issue to stoke fears of terrorism

Contrary to the media question "Why don't Muslims speak out against terrorism?", Islam and Muslims continue to fight physically, socially and loudly against ISIS and by extension all terrorism. The more nerve wrecked and paranoid people of Western societies are not convinced. Both right wing and liberal self proclaimed defenders of Democracy and patriots (U.S., Canada) and nationalists in Europe have attacked mosques, Islamic centers hosted large anti-refugee/migrant rallies and have gathered up arms in anticipation of a real life clash of civilization. Islam is permanently equated with terrorism even though the Quran is against the taking and killing of innocent life and emphasis justice.

Decades old xenophobia and Islamophobia is not helped by politicians. Donald Trump's now infamous remarks about Muslims has turned him into a cause celeb of the nationalists and organizations. Trump is currently running for Republican nominee for the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. His campaign revolves around a nationalistic, anti-mass immigration, generalizing Islam and simplifying foreign policy. Trump commented that Muslims should carry special IDs, some should be monitored via a database around the clock, Syrian refugees being denied entry into the United States. The second popular Republic Presidential candidate Ben Carson compared Syrian refugees to rabid dogs receiving disgust and at the same time support from Americans. This has fed into the fear and ongoing Islamophobia across the U.S. and Europe. The media has also been pushing the view by giving Trump and other share a like minds airtime to share their views. The current atmosphere is not far off from the fear, xenophobia and economic recession that led to the rise of fascism and Nazism in 1920s Europe. Trump's ideas echoes the same attitude of American society and government officials that led to the internment of Japanese Americans throughout World War II. Dehumanization and negative stereotypes with far reaching consequences play a huge role in society's perception of groups of people and cultures living thousands of miles away. Media and propaganda isn't just harmless. It reaches into the subconscious.

Donald Trump in his own words

PS: Leaders who not crazy but have insane ideas rely on the fear and panic of the general population for support. No one paid attention to Adolf Hitler's early rants, xenophobia and extreme racism until it manifested into reality. Mussolini was treated as a national hero until his reign of terror and fear silenced society. The same happened with Pol Pot in Cambodia and Sukano in Indonesia. Society's fear of the scary other serves the media, politicians and national security state

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Bamako, Mali terror attacks in the calm city

Mali is the ancient crossroads of West Africa. Despite not being the regional power like Nigeria, Mali is still important culturally, historically and politically. 

Bamako, the capital of West African country Mali is famous for being a calm capital city like Dakar, Senegal. It is one of those capital cities that get mentions randomly as a unique place to Bamako has its own unique history, culture and society. Bamako is mentioned a lot in many songs by local residents and Malians as well as international singers Youssou Ndour and Baaba Maal and has even become the name of several music groups. Despite not being well known as neighboring cities such as Freetown or , the capital has a well known music scene. Although it is a modern city, Bamako has been part of Malian and larger African history going back centuries. It existed as a small town when the Songhai, Sundiata, Mansa Musa, Jolof Empire, Ghana Empire (the country of Ghana gets its name), the Tauregs, etc all grew up and developed Mali during the Gold, spice and Trans Saharan trade eras. It was until the 20th century, overshadowed by Dakar and Noukchott even under the French colonial rule. Senegal, Morocco, Algeria and Guinea have some cultural connection, neighborly relations and with Bamako and Mali. Nearly 2 million people live in Bamako and its surrounding metro area. The city is located on the Niger River as many important Malian cities rely on the river for life and survival. The importance of water in a desert country such as Mali can not be underestimated. Bamako is a Bambara word meaning crocodile river in references to the crocodiles that used to be live in the Niger River. The cultural richness of Mali has never left Bamako. 

Bamako, Mali with the Niger River in the background

Dimanche a Bamako Amadou Mariam Malian musical Duo

Only two days after Boko Haram attacked a crowded marketplace in Yolo, Nigeria, another takfiri terrorist group attacked civilians and military personnel at Radison Hotel in the Malian capital Bamako on Saturday November 21st. Ordinary Malians were affected by the hostage siege in the hotel both inside and outside. Malian, Chinese, Turkish, French, American and Indian and possibly other WEst African nationals were taken hostage by English speaking terrorists belonging to Al Qaeda in the Maghreb and North Africa. Bamako was already on edge long before the recent terrorist attacks. It is a city recognized for its calmness and culture instead of brutal attacks. Even with the ongoing low intensity violence in Northern Mali, threats to cultural heritage and traditions in Timbukutu, Gao and Kidal or the terror of Boko Haram in Nigeria, Bamako doesn't appear unless the 2012 military coup is mentioned. Sadly, Bamako has experience previous terror attacks on smaller scale. In March, a suicide bomber killed 3 people in the capital. The Malian president vowed to punish the terrorists while comforting the families of the innocent souls lost. Again he is vowing immediate action. The African Union and Ecowas which is supposed to aid member states in conflicts related to terrorism and security has been dragging their respective feet. Not that the orgnanizations haven't been discussing and finding solutions to keeping Al Qaeda, Ansar al Deen and other terror organizations from causing chaos across West Africa. The terrorists responsible for the Hotel bombings have constantly attacked UN peacekeepers who remain in Mali from the 2012 coup and Taureg uprising in Northern Mali. 

Terrorist attacks in Bamako Mali Nov 21, 2015

France needs Mali instead of the other way around

In addition, French forces have also been "helping" the Malian army to fight against Al Qaeda and other terror organizations. France is scared of its power and influence in West Africa dubbed L Francophone waning or loosing out to China's soft power influences and budding trade relations with West Africa. France's quest to gain a military hold on independent African countries once its former colonies can not be brushed aside. France relies on Mali, Niger, Guinea and Central African Republic's natural resources to power French electricity and keep the French standard of living afloat at the expense of Mali having independent and people first leaders who put their foot down when it comes to protecting natural resources and unequal access to necessary resources for countries outside the African continent. 

PS: The media coverage of the Mali terror attacks lasted one day whereas the Paris Attack has had special coverage for over a week. Independent media has criticized double standards of the worthy victims in the humanization of Parisians and French people and the complete collateral damage mantra towards innocent victims and survivors of terrorist attacks in Mali, Nigeria, Baghdad, Libya and Syria.

Friday, 20 November 2015

South Sudan independence without lasting peace

Since gaining independence in July 2011, South Sudan has been hit by ongoing wars that has exhausted its society and demoralized many ordinary South Sudanese. What was supposed to be a joyful ride into the future for Africa and the world's newest nation has turned into horror. Four years after celebrating a long overdue and hard fought war that destroyed Sudanese society and still affects people across the two Sudans, South Sudan is further away from lasting peace. South Sudan had always empathized lasting peace and national unity as a key to building up society for the better. It doesn't matter if a South Sudanese is Dinka, Neur, Shilluk and many other ethnic groups. National cohension and unity is supposed to hold the country together. Post independence and revolution aftermaths are the difficult parts of freeing a people from brutal military occupation, war or colonial rule.

South Sudan: Fight for the heart of the South Al Jazeera special report

The country technically has two unofficial political leaders. Riek Macher and Salvia Kiir. Machar was originally the first vice president of South Sudan until he was sacked by Kiir during massive government suspensions. While most politicians would've gotten on without a government position, Machar challenged Kiir on his rule and proposed running for president against Kiir. Salvia Kiir, the current South Sudanese president ignored Machar's challenges at first. Only after Machar's supporters under the banner of SPLA began challenging Kiir's government, the president himself . currently the president. Both have their own supporters and individual militias who have refused to put down their arms until each leader folds to current conflict between both sides.

Struggles of a nation: When civilians can't relax

While many South Sudanese are happy to have a country of their own and be able to breathe freely, many are facing one struggle after the next. From a lack of basic infrastructure around the country and even in the South Sudanese capital Juba to lack of schools to educate many hundreds of thousands of children returning from camps or displaced by the war. Not to mention the hundreds of disrupted classes from primary to university levels. There are some South Sudanese children who are traumatized and scarred for life from the longest civil war turned independence struggle anywhere in Africa. Others still live in refugee or internally displaced camps in Juba or outside Malakal in Northern South Sudan and Sudan too frightened to return or unable to go back to their original homes around the country. The Sudanese citizens who are in calming states and peaceful neighbors of Juba have attempted to carry on with their normal lives. Children get up and go to school while their parents work and keep the calm in the households and at schools. Local state governments have focused their energies on improving infrastructure and promoting the rich cultures of South Sudan. Still cultural programs have been overshadowed in recent years by the ongoing corruption and violence plaguing South Sudan. 

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Paris terror attacks and war against people

Paris is known more for its landmarks, art, cuisine and relaxed atmosphere than for chaos and bombings. With the exception of World War II and Nazi occupation, Paris, the capital of France has been relatively safe and welcoming to millions of people from around the world. It is fawned over as the unofficial capital of the cultural connoisseur world. Once again, the world's eyes are on Paris but for the wrong reasons.

Sky News Special Report: Terror in Paris

Just 10 months after the January attacks on Charlie Hebdo, Parisians are again in shock at Friday's suicide bombings, shootings, hostage situations and explosions across the city. Some 120+ people have been declared killed in the terror attacks while another 200 are injured. The Bataclan Theatre, Le Cambodge Restaurant, a bar and the Stade de France the national stadium were targeted shamefully. All four places and the Gare du Nord were filled with people out on a normal Friday night either going to concerts, at the restaurant, chilling or minding their own business. The explosions were meant to maim and terrify ordinary French people more than the politicians. The Bataclan Theatre has been the focus of the events as over 80+ innocent people were killed after a hostage crisis reminiscence of the 2002 Moscow Theatre siege by Chechen terrorists. No one at the Bataclan wouldve foreseen the violence that unfolded while attending the Eagles of Death Metal band show. The Eagles of Death Metal (premonition if you will) are from the United States and were planning to enjoy their own peaceful world tour. The hundreds of fans were anxious to see the performance.

Explosions during Friendly match France vs Germany BMFTV

At the Stade de France, the 80,000 football fans paid no heed to the first explosion that went off during a friendly match between France and Germany. Football matches are known for having diehard fans and fanatics who shoot flares, fire off fireworks and noisemakers among other things at friendly matches and not to mention local club derbies. The fans were overly excited to see their country play. It wasn't until after the match and the second to third explosion that the football fans realized something was utterly wrong, rushed out of the stadium and ran towards the exit. They originally remained inside the stadium for safety. French football star Lassana Diarra lost his beloved cousin Asta Diakite in Paris attacks. She is one of many victims.

Hollande Adding fuel to the fire in Syria

On the streets of Paris in the different arrondissments in the 10th and 11th, Parisians and tourists ducked for safety leaping over the Bataclans' windows or staying in doors under orders of Paris mayor and city council. Charles De Gualle airport was shuttered and the French borders were sealed briefly. Belgium out of justified panic reinstated border checks.

The Police State comes again

In Buddhist and Hindu teachings, Samsara translates into continuous movement. Samsara is the cycle of constant rebirth and death. The Paris attacks and national security state that France has become is giving birth to the Samsara Police State. Since last Friday's Paris attacks, French President Francois Hollande has declared a 3 month long state of emergency for the first time in over 50 years. The French police already militarized since the September 11th attacks in the U.S. has been given a carte blanche to arrest, racially profile and treat ordinary Parisians and by extension tourists both local and outside as suspects and potential enemies within unless proven otherwise. French police have been using brutal tactics toward French citizens of African descendant going back decades. The heavy handed tactics are nothing new. Especially against French protesters, suspected criminals and French people falsely accused of violent crimes and terrorism. The French police's excessive use of force also extends to migrants in Calais and the San papiers or sin papeles migrants transiting through France towards the UK. There is ongoing police raids in Saint Denis a suburb of Paris home to the Stade de France and a large number of French citizens of African descendant. The French government and Hollande see no double standards in using police force against its own citizens or regarding the State's security as top priority while preaching democracy and freedom to the rest of the world. The State of Emergency is based on France's old colonial state of emergency law that was used during the Algerian Revolution and War of Independence from 1954-1962. Algeria became an independent country in July 1962. Keeping the recent attacks in mind, remember that in 1961 the Paris police committed a massacre of 100+ Algerians living in Paris protesting against the French use of terror and force at the time during the climax of the Algerian independence of war. The Algerian men, women and children were thrown into the Seine River after the massacre. The wider Western media had been mute and kept its silence about the massacre until recently. Even now the mainstream media in France hasn't said much about the 1961 massacre. The protest that proceeded the police massacre was condemned as illegal just how France became one of the first countries in the world to ban Pro-Palestine protests. France's response has been to bomb ISIS off the face of the Earth while destroying Syria further physically and socially. The samaraesque war is creating more Syrian refugees and migrants many of who have little refuges in other parts of the world. The French government justifies the NATO styled bombings of Raqqa and other Syrian towns as revenge (without mentioning it in name) for the Paris' dead and destruction. . George Orwell is rolling in his grave.

Refugee and migrants backlash: Blamed and condemned

Over 31 state governors across the U.S. are panicking over the possibility of having to resettle thousands of Syrian refugees following the events in Paris. Without making distinctions, the governors and state governments have condemned Syrian refugees for the Paris attacks and used guilt by association to vilify groups of people based on religions and nationalities. The U.S. Congress has recently made it difficult for Syrian refugees to seek refuge in the U.S. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees by extensions Eritreans, Afghan, Iraqis and Palestinians are waiting in refugees camps in Lesbos, Calais and other towns across Europe to save their lives and families from the continuous wars in their homelands. Many people if in the same situation would do the same. The right wing parties and local community organizations across Europe ie Front National, PEGIDA, English Defense League, have all feared that the hundreds of thousands refugees and migrants coming into Europe might be used as a Trojan horse by ISIS to sneak takfiri terrorists into Europe to cause untold harm and destruction to Europeans at the expense of innocent people from migrant families and new arrivals. The migrant camp "the jungle" in Calais was set on fire by unknown attackers in response to the Paris attacks. Muslims and their Abrahamic brothers around the world have joined with other peoples and religious leaders to condemned the attacks and oppose terrorism in its multiple forms. 

The boomerang Effect of the war in Syria and across Mesopatamia comes back to bite France.

Local terrorists identified

Inspite of the fears by the right wing parties and governments, the Paris attacks which the Iraqi government warned would occur, was not even carried out by migrants or anyone from Syria. A Syrian passport was stolen by a terrorist. However, the French and other Western governments can't point a finger at Assad as the culprit. All the terrorist involved of Paris attacks were French and Belgian citizens. All of them were born in Paris and Brussels. One of the still missing terrorist Salah Abdelsalaam was born and grew up in Molenbeek, Belgium. His own family disowned him and have condemned the attacks. Molenbeek has lit candles in memory of the Paris attacks and expressed their outrage. The residents wants the world to know that their neighborhood is neither dangerous or related to terrorism at all. It is now known that Belgian and French intelligence knew of the terrorists' backgrounds.

Algerian independence war shadows Paris

France has never forgiven Algeria's FLN for seeking independence through a combination of nationalism, anti colonial and pro Non alignment resistance and armed struggle. Until 1962, Algeria was controlled by France as a department of the mainland instead of just a colony like Morocco or Mali. France would be damned if the anti colonial and pro independence via armed resistance gained Algeria its independence. To this day, talking about the Algerian war of independence where the French used torture and sanctioned state terrorism to break the independence movement, is considered taboo and controversial. Nevertheless, it is a lesson in how not to create more enemies or destroy the world further.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Sinjar liberated and Lebanon attacks

Sinjar, Iraq fought and won by the Peshmerga against ISIS

It has been a stressful Friday. The Peshmerga has succeeded in its long battle against ISIS to liberate the town of Sinjar, Iraq. The Peshmerga and the wider Kurdish people have been fighting against ISIS in large and small ways. While the Peshmarga, YPK, Kurdish women warriors and the PKK have all joined forces with their Iraqi, Syrian and even Turkish counterparts to battle and resist ISIS' advances in Northern Iraq and a large chunk of Syria. Refugees and migrants from all three countries continue to leave Izimir and Bodrum to Greece, Italy, Germany, Austria and the former Yugoslavian republics ie Slovenia, Serbia and Croatia for safety. The refugee families and migrants are equally catching hell in each country they land in minus Germany. Back in Syria and Iraq, the ongoing war has made life impossible for many citizens outside of secured Damascus and Syrian government controlled cities and towns. Sinjar's liberation from ISIS rule is key to liberating other areas around Iraq and Syria. It is a boost to war weary local troops and joint U.S. and other Western airstrikes against the terror group in Syria. The United States has ordered ground troops to Syria for the first time. Just the idea has raised eyebrows and is dubbed the Long Road to Hell.

Death at a Funeral

Lebanon has been pulled between its neighbors in regional war for over a century. During the 1975-1990 Civil War, Syria, Israel and the United States with a whole host of other nations and rebel groups fought over Lebanon and destroyed the capital Beirut at the expense of the Lebanese civilians. As Lebanon rebuild and revived, the country emerged out of the civil war like a phoenix proving that no amount of destruction could destroy Lebanese people or society. Lebanon's multicultural and multi religious society reminds intact despite the stress brought on by ongoing events next door. Lebanon still hosts 1 in 3 Syrian refugees, the war threats from Syria and the rising conflict between Hezbullah, ISIS and other non political groups has also placed Lebanon on high alert. Nevertheless, most Lebanese are more concerned about the piling garbage and pollution around Beirut. Earlier in the year the You Stink Movement picked up momentum in Beirut leading to wider condemnation of the Lebanese government's slow response to social issues and health. 

On certain streets and neighbors in Beirut, clashes and bombings targeting both Sunni and Shias has been disrupting the peace and terrorizing ordinary Lebanese living their lives in spite of regional events. Two bombings ripped through a Beirut neighborhood killing over 30 people earlier this week. The funerals were held for the victims yesterday and again today.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

El Nino terrible, climate change and Pacific Ocean

El Nino is expected to hit the Pacific Coast hard if and when it builds up steam. This year's El Nino is already being dubbed as the worst storm outdoing its predecessor the 1997 El Nino that caused mudslides in Mexico and turned streets into oceans. Great floods and rainstorms no know borders nor respect boundaries. Mexico and California joined together by history, culture, language and and borders have fought against the Pacific's long ranging freak storms. Water has been both a blessing and a threat. Mayors and citizens have lamented over the cruel irony of being so close to valuable water but unable to drink it due to salinity and pollution only to be choked by the ongoing drought and slow rising desertification. The ocean currents have been carrying the contaminated debris from 2011 Fukushima Diaster towards Mexico, Hawaii, Canada and U,S, West Coast for over four years. Not only that but toxic Algae and ocean acid is further damaging the sea life and food chain along the West Coast from Alaska to Mexico. Like many coastal regions around the world Western Mexico and West Coast of Canada and United States rely on the calmness and beauty of the Pacific instead of Mother Nature's irrationality and (human pollution) for life and survival. Everything from food, tourism and drinkable water to fishing, agriculture and relaxation was born out of water. They have all been transformed by water and land both in the past and still into the future. The Pacific Ocean has sadly played the part of the Grim Reaper across the Pacific islands and mainlands through typhoons, hurricanes, tsunamis and great floods. For the people and places who survive, climate change isn't just a buzz word it's reality. It's lived on a daily basis by both people and animals on land and sea.

PS: both the West Coast and Mexico have taken measures and steps to reduce their consumption levels, pollution and imagine new clean energy and ways of living. Sustainability is the new reality too and will become the future eventually. This has not stopped the freakish weather variation or patterns from spreading anxiety and destruction. Environmental protection is not a new concept either. Long before the image of tree hugging hippies or Greenpeace activists became the face of environmental protection, Earth's need for protection was regarded as a necessity. Earth is the only known planet (thus far) to sustain life and has to work under stress (nonstop) to keep strengthening and repairing itself as well as protecting the billions of organisms fortunate enough to live here.

What Exactly is El Nino?

Demystifying Ocean Acidification and Climate biology

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Migrant crisis causing break up of EU?

While the migrant crisis has drifted from the headlines of mainstream American media, its still large news across Europe, Africa and Asia. Over 700,000 migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Sudan and Libya via West Africa, Turkey and Iraq have arrived in Greece, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, Germany and now to Russia into Norway via bicycle. The Syrian migrants crossing the Russian/Norwegian border on the Arctic Circle on bicycles are seeking asylum in Norway. Slovenia and Croatia are still being overwhelmed by thousands of migrants and refugees crossing from Serbia. Hungary has all but turned its borders into a walled fortress inspiring Austria to threaten the EU with building its own border fence if the migrant stream doesn't end. The Greek island of Lesbos near Western Turkey is both overwhelmed and swamped by incoming migrant families and individual people terrified and dehydrated from nearly drowning and being abused by human smugglers who have abandoned them on their torturous journey. Germany's earlier open arm welcome of migrant families and children is waning too. The German Interior Ministry is warning that migrants will be sent back to the Balkans if their application for asylum is not accepted. The migrants have had to wait in Slovenia and Croatia borders in anticipation and boredom.

Talk to Al Jazeera - Voices and stories of the refugees. Must watch

After traveling through half of the former Yugoslavia, the migrants and refugees are now fighting off an incoming harsh winter, indifferent local populations and reinstated border checks in Eastern and Central Europe. In Czech Republic and Slovakia, both right and left wings have been protesting against accepting any refugees to Bratislava or Prague. Despite the history of being locked behind border walls and being repressed by Soviet proxy governments, Czechs, Poles and Slovaks see no irony in not sympathizing with the migrants' plight of being pushed out of their home countries. The cultural hertiage of Syria continue to be destroyed and the population purposely displaced.

Migrant Crisis threatens cohesion warns Donald Tusk and Schulz

Most European governments egged on by the far right and even the annoyed moderates see the migration flow as an apocalyptic invasion and nightmare. EU President and former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk suggested that the crisis threatened the cohension of the European Union during a press conference at the Balkan Summit. In short, it will cause the collapse of the EU member states.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

War against Nuba People by Sudanese government

Everyone knows or has heard of the continuing Israeli siege in Gaza that has suffocated Gaza's 1.4 million civilians. The story of Israel's use of excessive force against Palestinian families and children is well known even for the blind who can only hear about the social and infrastructural destruction of occupied Gaza and the wider lands in Occupied Palestine. Thousands of miles south of besieged and blockaded Gaza, another blockaded land is under siege by government forces.

The Sudanese capital Khartoum. It could be mistaken for a mini version of Cairo with neighborhoods spreading across both sides of the Nile and its own unique culture. The second largest city Omdurman is to the city's West. 

Sudan is a multiethnic and multi religious country, it has been for thousands of years. Historically Sudan was an extension of Egypt vice versea often unified with its northern neighbor through imperial and pharaonic rules. Sudan is also the home of Nubia, Kush, Kerma, Merotic Empires and kingdoms and traded with Ethiopia and Arabia. Egypt and Britain both colonized and ruled Sudan under the Anglo-Egyptian condominium from the late 19th century to Sudanese independence in 1955. The British ruled Sudan as two separate entities with Northern Sudan being connected to the larger Arab and Muslim countries and Southern Sudan being tied to Eastern African countries such as Kenya, DR Congo and Uganda. Darfur was originally its own independent sultanate from the early 16th century until the condominium when it became part of Sudan. Gamal Nassar's emphasis on Arab nationalism and Pan Arab unity in Egypt and the wider region continues to affect Sudanese politics and thoughts into the present. When Sudan gained independence in 1955, the Sudanese government began pushing a policy of Arabization and Islamification in Southern Sudan and Darfur to cement Khartoum government's political and cultural control over Africa's largest country. The policy has continued to this day at the expense of Sudan's own multicultural identity, religious tolerance and the crushing of ancient languages and religions that predate Ancient Egypt. The current President Omar Bashir has taken the Saudi wahhabi brand of Sharia, islamification and anti-African racism to a brutal level against the long marginalized regions of Kordofan, Blue Nile, Darfur and Eastern Sudan's Red Sea state. The Sudanese government even before the current President Omar Bashir came to power in a military coup in 1991, ignored the grievances of its citizens outside the capital. Bashir is a wanted war criminal (International Criminal Court in The Hague has been calling for his arrest for the last 12 years) who escaped arrest for his crimes against humanity in South Africa during a meeting earlier this year. The African Union has condemned the Sudanese government's war against its own people for decades. AU peacekeepers are currently in Darfur and are extending their mission with resistance from the Khartoum government.

The mainstream media like to explain away the complexities by saying the Sudanese Civil War is a religious one between Christians and Muslims or African vs Arab (Sudanese Arabs are Afro Arabs). Being Arab isn't based on ethnicity but culture and language. When the marginalized Sudanese in the South, Darfur and Nuba Mountains,and Red Sea state (home of the Beja people) started fighting back against the Sudanese government, pundits dragged up the old mantra of "ancient tribal hatreds" or "just another African war between faceless governments and rebel forces." Rarely are the reasons and causes for the war in the first place are explained. 

2005 Comprehensive Peace Deal Al Jazeera

As part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Khartoum government and then SPLA Southern Sudanese rebels, the Nuba Mountains, Abyei and Blue Nile state were granted the right to vote on their futures. The ongoing bombings of the Nuba Mts and Blue Nile delayed the vote. When South Sudan gained in 2011, each region would be allowed to hold referendums on whether to stay part of Sudan or breakaway and become part of the new independent South Sudan. The recent war in Nuba Mts and against the SPLA-N began 2011 when elections for referendum was accused of being rigged by the Sudanese government. The Nuba people in both the Nuba Mts and Blue Nile and the Dinka Ngoc in Abyei are close cousins of the South Sudanese. That doesn't mean everyone in Abeyi would vote for joining their southern neighbor. Many fought for South Sudanese independence and against the Khartoum government throughout the 50 year old civil war in Sudan.

Sudanese govt targets only hospital in Nuba Mountains

When resistance is a crime

For over 20 years, the Nuba people living in the Nuba Mountain located in South Kordofan state in Sudan along the border with South Sudan has been under siege and blockaded by the Sudanese government. The Nuba people belong to many ethnic groups with a unique and ancient culture. In terms of religion, the Nuba people are half Muslims and Christians. Both faithful communities live in peace side by side. Religious coexistence doesn't spare either group: they are equally targeted. The Nuba people have witnessed their houses, schools, hospitals, farms and arable lands and roads destroyed by the Sudanese army's excessive use of force meant to punish civilians in the name of fighting the rebel group SPLA-North that operate out of the mountains. Entry into the Nuba Mountains is not allowed even for journalists. Some journalists have managed over the years to make it into the Nuba Mts but they are few. Most of Nuba Mts journalists are local people documenting the disproportionate war and crimes against them. Medical aid has been blocked as a form of collective punishment on the Nuba to starve the civilians and further hurt the SPLA-N's war efforts. Children and women bear the brunt of the blockade and bombing. In neighboring Blue Nile State, sandwiched next to Ethiopia, SPLA-N soldiers has also been fighting the Sudanese government to protect evacuated citizens and their land from destruction and ethnic cleansing. Sudanese Army will bomb even remote areas where there are little civilians or small rebel bases than blame the killing on the SPLA or their supporters. Another arm of the war machine, the Sudanese army relies on is local usually Arab or Arabic speaking militia in these regions. The militiamen are sometimes neighbors of their displaced and bombed neighbors from Nuba, Blue Nile or across Darfur. The militiamen see little irony in being able to settle in destroyed and depopulated villages in Darfur or aid the national army in chasing out their fellow countrymen. The militiamen terrorizing parts of Nuba and Darfur have become the unofficial infantrymen for the Sudanese army when soldiers aren't deployed or gruesomely prefer to bombard civilians from the air via antonov plane. Nuba civilians have been denied any form of return to their homes, schools and villages. The government has taken the ethnic cleansing a step further by encouraging Arab settlers from other parts of Sudan to settle in destroyed regions such as Darfur. Perhaps the same will be repeated in Nuba.

Viva la cultura: Culture lives

Even with the war, the Nuba people still live, go to school and celebrate their culture and language. Resistance through normalcy. The Nuba language not to be confused with Nubian, is actually made up of 100 languages sometimes named the Kordofan languages (after South Kordofan Province) but commonly referred to as Nuba to simplify the long list of languages. Again, Sudan's language diversity would put the tower of babel to shame. Nuba language specialists and Nuba activists are fighting to protect some of the Nuba language particularly the Moro Nuba language through language study project and printed materials for language students. Nuba artists and activists are also passing on the language and culture to the next generation. The Nuba culture is most famous for Nuba wrestling which is a national sport in Sudan and popular in Khartoum. It is both a form of therapy and pride for the Nuba. Some Nuba wrestlers are hoping that Nuba wrestling becomes an Olympic sport in the near future. Nuba refugee families and activists who live abroad in United States, UK, Egypt have been showcasing the Nuba culture, fighting for their rights and people's voices in their host societies to be heard. Not only that but to be respected in Sudan.

Khartoum's War on Sudan: When Civilians are the enemy Nuba Reports

Bombing civilians to punish rebel groups

The SPLA-N are a faction of the once nationwide Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement that had fought against the Sudanese government based in the capital Khartoum. Like many bombarded and occupied peoples in other parts of the world, Palestine included, the Nuba and South Sudanese people have long accused the Sudanese government of marginalization, collective punishment that purposely target civilians without distinguish, ethnic cleansing, lack of infrastructure development, failure to redistribute oil wealth and natural resources to benefit the whole of Sudan as oppose to just Khartoum. Centralization of everything from political representation to resources to solely the capital city plays a huge role in many long standing conflicts in the DR Congo. Sudan is no exception. The Sudanese government regarded the SPLA and the current rebel groups in Nuba and the Blue Nile states as threats to national security. The rebels are treated as terrorists although they have received recognition and support from neighboring African countries including South Sudan.

Yes, Sudan receives its military helicopters from Russia one of its allies and trading partners in its crucial petroleum industry. The other ally is China who uses the reasoning of its none of my business concerning the destruction of the Nuba Mts.  Nuba at the expense of the locals who are now in refugee camps in South Sudan or living in caves for safety. The constant bombing has made it impossible for many Nuba to return to their old homes or even attend school. Even in a safe environment such as the St. Joseph hospital, the only hospital in Nuba still fully operational, the antonov bombs are dropped near by to cause further fear and injury to civilians.

Nuba Reports: Nuba Child struck by Antonov missile in Nuba Mountians, Sudan