Thursday, 23 July 2015

Ancient Quran found in England at University of Birmingham Library

Oldest Quran manuscript rediscovered at University of Birmingham 

How fitting that a week after Eid al Fitr, a manuscript from a 7th century Quran has been found in the research library at the University of Birmingham. The ancient Quran was carbon dated with the help of the lab technicians at the Oxford University to date to 646 AD a little after the passing Prophet Muhammad. Written in Hijazi Arabic which is still spoken in Western Saudi Arabia in the Hijaz region, the 1, 500 year old Quranic pages has excited and surprised university historians, culture preservers and even the media pundits in Birmingham and other parts of England. The texts is split among three pages from Surat 18-20. Poignantly all three surahs make references on faith, trust and universal stories found in the Bible. Surah 18 Al Kahf The Cave features parables and allegories on having faith in God (Allah), Surah 19 Maryam (Mary) tells the stories of both Jesus and Mary but also Zacharia and John and Surah 20 Taha tells the story of Moses, guidance offered by God through the prophets including Jesus and the fundamental truths of religion.

The Quranic manuscript that brought joy to England and the wider world across religious and political lines. Photo from ArabianBusiness.

The Quran is said to have come to U of Birmingham nearly 100 years ago in the 1920s from Iraq through the Chaldean Priest Alphonse Mingana who was working to preserve Iraqi heritage including the quran and other manuscripts for future generations. His work has paid off greatly. The research library's Arabic manuscript collection where the quran had been stored for all these decades was named after Mingana. Edward Cardbury, yes the legendary Cardbury Chocolatier originally financed Mingana's research project. Cardbury is honorably mentioned as Cardbury Research Library and Mingana's greatest aid in preserving the collections. The Quran is being well cared for and protected. It will be put on display for the British and international public in Birmingham's library. The Chairman of Birmingham's Central Mosque Mohammad Afzal nearly cried tears of joy hearing about the discovery. Birmingham has a large Muslim community that is equally elated to hear about the Quran. Religion and politics aside, many people are pleasantly surprised. Cultural history has proven that animosity can be buried when heritage and well being of humanity comes first. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Sandra Bland, Texas and police killings

A Smiling Sandra Bland before her trip down to Texas. Photo from USA Today.

It has been said for years that the police has been militarized and continue to use disproportionate force against people of color particularly against African American people. Why the sudden rise in police violence or police terrorism as some call it towards African American men, women and children? Again another family is mourning the death of their child, mom, daughter and sister. Sandra Bland, a young woman from Chicago, Illinois, was on her way to a new job and life at the Historically Black Prarieview A&M University in Prarieview, Texas a suburb near Houston. Ecstatic about the new life, she left home for a long drive South some 1,084 miles. Texas has a history of being a cowboy republic. Slavery is ignored and even downplayed in Texas history books. Racism too is downplayed in Texas' metropolitan cities. Houston is raised up by Texans and other Americans across the country as a model of cultural and ethnic diversity in the South. Austin, Texas' capital has become the new progressive city. Texas is changing demographically and politically, it is one of several purple states that the political pundits muse over closer to the presidential election. While the changes are visible, Texas' history and continual racism and violence against women are inexcusable. For all the self proclamations and accolades as the center of women's liberation (which also exists in other parts of the world) and having launched the feminist movement, the United States does not do any better than other countries concerning violence against women and children. Domestic violence, abuse, rape and misogyny happens frequently in the United States. Its tied to machismo, gun culture, the literal interpretation of the second amendment. The police violence against women and children is equally tied to violence and misogyny.

The teen who was body slammed and wrestled by McKinney police speaks 

It has been less than a month since police officers led by Office Eric Casebolt broke up a pool party in McKinney, Texas by slamming another young African American woman Dejerria Becton on the ground in her bathing suit, rolling ninja style towards the other black teens who tried to help her at first and than the additional officers chased after the teenage boys. All the while white teen was recording the McKinney violence and spoke out against the racist attack and invited the and her friends back for another pool party. Eric Casebolt was fired from his post in McKinney. There was a fight that proceeded the police violence towards the teens where Dejerria was slapped and than wrestled by an older white woman without the help of the cameraman who recorded it or the other adults present. The woman was later placed on leave from her job. The fact that an adult would slap or use excessive violence against a teenage should raise eyebrows and make teen's parents and wider community demand the rights of their daughter or child.

Dash Cam of Sandra Bland arrest

Sandra was simply driving to her final destination when she was pulled over by the police. The State Trooper Eric Briana insisted that it was for keeping a turn signal on too long. Which is a mistake any driver could make on any given day. Than Briana tried to argue with Sandra to put out her cigarette while she drive. She told the trooper there was no reason to and there isn't a written law on not smoking while driving. She exited the car and Trooper Briana than tried to yank her out of the car as she insisted that she didn't do anything for him to arrest her. He than threatened, "I will light you up," As he pointed a taser at her. She hasn't swung or used any kind of physical force simply her words and anger to make a point that the officer was using unnecessary force including slamming her face on the ground. Again grabbing people and than slamming them on the ground is not allowed on any police force unless the person uses violence against the officers. Even than, overuse of shooting and violence isn't supposed to lead to death. Officers have specific procedures they are supposed to follow when talking to drivers especially women and children that minimizes violence or aggressive confrontation. Sandra was taken unlawfully to the Waller County jailhouse and later found dead from what the officers call "a suicide" from hanging. Which begs the question, if someone was about to start a new job or new life why would they suddenly kill themselves at a police station? Furthermore, why would any woman be hauled off to jail for a signal staying on to long or as the saying goes "a busted headlight?" Why did the officer feel the need to use such a confrontation method when approaching Sandra? This is the official report that Sandra's family and friends back in Chicago have been questioning in disbelief and asking for an independent autopsy. The suicide that has since been brought into question. 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Senegal prosecuting Hissane Habre ex Chadian leader for war crimes

Chad and its neighbors Niger, Nigeria, the powerhouse of Africa, Centrafrique and Cameroon and Sudan, and North: Libya and Algeria (Dzayer). Lake Chad is a lifesaver to the region in the same way the Niger and Nile rivers give life to dry and thirsty lands. 

A Haphazard history of Chad

Chad doesn't get much attention in the international media. When it is mentioned, its either for the disappearing Lake Chad or migration of the Chadian and neighboring people who have been going back and forth through the country for years. Chad is one of the larger desert countries: the majority of the people live in the capital Ndjamena and the second large cities of Moundou, Abeche, ad Timan. Chadians are mostly nomadic people traveling for access to water, grazing lands for their livestock and cattle or migrating to the city or capital when rural life becomes impossible to sustain oneself. The languages spoke are Chadian Arabic, French and local Chadian languages. Like neighboring Sudan, Chad is often divided by Western observers as North and South, Arab vs African even though these simple definitions tend to blare across the country. Chad historically was on the route of the Trans Saharan Trade during the Middle Ages. France colonized Chad in the 19th century as part of its larger French West Africa or French Soudan not to be confused with the country of Sudan. When Chad gained independence from France in 1960, the new Chadian leaders had to scramble to create a new pan Chadian national identity among the people. Chad became well known not for its unique culture or language diversity but its border war with Libya over the Aozou Strip. It has had the misfortune of pulled in a tug of war style direction into the wars and conflicts of its neighbors. For the past decades, Chad itself has experienced a low intensity insurgency across the Chadian country side. Since the 1960s, Lake Chad has been disappearing. It has shrunk greatly from farming, irrigation and pumping by Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger to develop and live.

Enter Hissane Habre

L'Accuse: Hissane Habre after a day at court in Dakar, Senegal 2015. Photo from AfricaReview

It was in the 1980s that the now ex Chadian leader Hissane Habre took power in a coup against the then President Tombalbye. Tombalbye was not a Democrat and imposed his authoritarian rule over Chadians that favored Southern regions of Chad over the North and Central Chad. If the political situation sounds familiar that's due to Nigeria's similar grievance that the South was being favored over the North. The grievance led to Nigeria's Civil War or the Biafra war in 1960s. Habre entered office at the beginning of the Chadian civil war . It was Habre's iron fisted rule that led to the deaths of thousands of Chadians through torture, disappearance, murders, rape and overall fear across the nation. Habre's rule lasted from 1982-1990. It was during Habre's rule that Chad and Libya's Aozou Strip war grew the most tense. The current Chadian President Idriss Derby took over from Habre in 1990. However, Derby continued some of the heavy handed tactics of using force to keep ordinary Chadians and oppositions under control. Derby is equally accused of turning a blind eye and some cases supporting the Sudanese government in its war against the people of Darfur in Western Sudan.

Leuk Senegal: L'Affair Hissane Habre, "La Traque du Un Dictateur"

The victims of Habre, human rights organizations in Chad and Human Rights Watch in United States continued to demand Habre be tried for war crimes against the Chadian people. For over 22 years Habre had lived in exile in Dakar, Senegal despite the protests and demands for his arrest and his overdue trial. After decades of delaying and mediating on Habre's verdict, the Senegalese government convicted and took Hissane Habre to trial for his crimes in the 1980s. What makes Habre's trial unique is that he is the first African leader to be tried for crimes on the continent. Most the African leaders convicted of human rights violations and war crimes have been sent to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Netherlands. Charles Taylor, the butcher of Liberia, a few Rwandan low level leaders involved in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide are currently in the ICC on an unending trial for their crimes. A war crimes tribunal court has also been established in Sierra Leone and Rwanda to serve as an alternative to the ICC. There has long been calls and demands by African leaders, jurists and citizens to have an independent and self sufficient Pan African Criminal Court persecuted on home soil. There is also calls for stronger African courts, judiciary and jurists as well as reforming African laws to meet the need of the people rather than protecting leaders. Hissane Habre's trial which was also approved by the African Union could serve as a stepping stone towards a future continent wide criminal court that will eventual persecute various African presidents and prime minister not only for crimes but corruption as well. Habre's conviction shows that no leader no matter if they are military or civilian can defy the law and not face consequences.

Press TV Will Bush and Blair be charged for War Crimes?

PS: African leaders have been disproportionately singled out by the West (read international Community), the UN and without hesitation, found automatically guilty without trial and sent to the ICC unlike the equally if not more guilty Western leaders ie George Bush, Tony Blair, Bibi Netanyahu, some would say the current President Obama, they have purposely bombed hundreds of thousands of civilians "to bring democracy" or "fight terrorism until its eradicated." Added to the list of the accused war criminals would be the elusive Burmese Military Junta leaders who have turned their backs on their own citizens the Rohingya Muslims facing ethnic cleansing, religious persecution, statelessness and becoming the scapegoat of Myanmar and neighboring countries. The hundreds of thousands of death and thousands injured since the start of the Al Aqsa Intifada in Occupied Palestine, includes children and women in Iraq, Gaza and West Bank/East Jerusalem, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Lebanon, Egypt (by ISIS, its affiliates and its proxies), Afghanistan, Mali, Sudan, Myanmar etc. Remember that some of the prime ministers and presidents in the above countries are also being charged with crimes against humanity and against their people ie Bashir Assad and Omar Bashir. The only leaders not being dragged to court are the royals of Saudi Arabia. The ICC will have plenty of backlog to sieve through by the time everyone is arranged for their respective court dates. 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Pluto has a Heart!

Pluto to Earth: "I Heart you" Photo from New Horizon

After 9 years of racing through the solar system, New Horizon's has arrived at Pluto. For the next year, New Horizon space probe will be snapping pictures and collecting data on Pluto as it semi-floats and glides through the Kuiper Belt. The molted planet has sent even the most hard facts scientists and New Horizon team somersaulting and dancing for joy. Pluto is no longer mysterious and its close up photo shoot has raised the demand for Pluto to be reconsidered a planet. Pluto is also unique for its geology and colors. Its reddish brown, includes ice capes, has a near perfect heart shaped area on one side of it and it is tidally locked to its gray moon Charon. Also surprising is Pluto isn't as heavily created as other moons and planets in our solar system. Charon has far more craters and even a small canyon across its surface. By the lack of heavy craters, Pluto might be younger than it actually looks. Still, Pluto has tiny craters, mountains, possibly liquid and its surfaces resembles a cantaloupe. For those interested, Science Channel will be featuring a special show "Direct from Pluto" tonight and PBS Nova will feature images of Pluto from the Flyby also tonight at 9pm.

Pluto and its dark moon Charon with black polar caps or anti polar caps

Across the world everyone has been celebrating Pluto's close up and its heart felt greeting to the New Horizon probe. The excitement is still continuing. NASA is enjoying the limelight since it has halted its famed manned mission to other worlds. NASA has been working for months to spark the American public's interest in astronomy, planets and stars. Science fiction has kept everyone's interest in the cosmos and future. The ecstasy that comes from seeing a controversial dwarf planet with a heart for the first time, is a surprise no sci fi novel could quite capture. Pluto's funky geography will get names based on nightmare characters and the lords of the underworld. The mission is still not over. Pluto's other smaller, potato shaped moons will eventually come into focus over time.

Astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson and comedian Steve Colbert talk Pluto

A New meme from Earthheal.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Continental attacks by Boko Haram and ISIS

Even the Heavens are fighting against ISIS. Cartoon by Carlos Latuff.

A few weeks ago three continents experienced one of the worst terror attacks in the past decade. From Africa to Asia hundreds of people have been killed by coalition and terrorists bombings in the name of fighting against terrorism in all its forms. Both ISIS and Boko Haram have upped their gruesome attacks against innocent civilians in Sousse Tunisia a few weeks ago, mosque attendees in Kuwait, one of the safer Gulf countries, Chadians at the marketplace in Ndjamena, Chad, attacking Palestinians and duel with Hamas in Gaza, decapitating people in France and nonstop bombings of families, students, elderly and children in Jose, Maiduguri and small border towns of Northeastern Nigeria. ISIS fighters and terrorists have been pushed back slightly in Iraq and Syria. Boko Haram is also being backed into a corner by the Nigerian Army and with help from neighboring countries ie Cameroon and Chad. But both groups are physically bombarding civilians who disagree or fight against it. The Peshmerga and Syrian army are equally bombarding ISIS positions with aid from U.S. Coalition. Meanwhile, Egypt has seen an upsurge in the decade long Sinai insurgency. Its a local insurgency that ISIS is trying to insert itself into. 

Monday, 6 July 2015

Surprise? Greece says no to bailout, Troika

Compliments of Latuff on Greece, Tspiras and Austerity measures

Greeks vote in bailout program referendum

After 14 years of being part of the Eurozone, the majority of Greeks have said a resounding Oxi or no to the Troika's bailout program and piling austerity measures and for the country's $33 trillion debt to the IMF. There's been talk of a Greek exit or Grexit if the Greek people (homeland of democracy) get to decide on the bailout set forth by the Troika: the European Central Bank, IMF and EU Commission. Outside of Athens across the Greek islands and in the capital, the people have been suffering with crushing personal and national debt, financial troubles, closed banks with limits on bank account withdrawals, depression from job loss and high youth unemployment. Greece's pain is not unique and is well known to the Global South countries ie Chile, Russia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Somalia and Argentina. Argentina's 2001 Financial and social collapse might have foreshadowed the saqueo (plundering) of Greece. Ironically, 2001 was also the same year Greece joined the Eurozone. Unlike The Drachma, the old Greek currency might make a comeback as the single or dual currency of the Argentina, Greece hasn't been able to bounce back since the financial crisis of 2006. Greece lacks strong export trade and manufacturing industry that helped Argentina recover. The Drachma, the old Greek currency could make a comeback as a single or dual currency for the country sharing monetary status alongside the Euro. The Yes vote campaign had tried to insist that Greece would be an orphan or unable to economically function outside the Eurozone and Brussel's financial guidance. Exhausted by the crushing crisis, by the IMF's harassment while ignoring the people's tug of war with the government over pensions and lack of access to health and money, ordinary Greeks' patience for their country's EU membership has reached a boiling point. This will send a precedent for other EU members debating their own solutions and woes to their respective financial crisis, unemployment and membership namely Spain, Portugal and the UK. The UK, specifically England aka Britain has been trying to unanimously end its EU membership through political and financial means to no avail. PM Cameron has called for England's own referendum on EU membership in the coming years. The EU citizens have expressed solidarity with Greece's woes.

Debtocracy: On the Greek Economic and Social crisis 

This vote is not about leftist parties or groups "sticking it" to the powerful economies of Europe ie Germany. It speaks volumes to the "joys of neoliberalism" serving as the golden fix for continual financial woes  and Capitalist system's widening wealth gap even in the Global North. Neoliberalism and the free markets have long been seen as the ultimate manna for any country's debt and depression. Never mind that the ordinary people face the most blow back from socioeconomic collapse and crushing debt. The banks are hit but are able to recover overtime with the help of global financial markets and government intervention. Greece along with its neighbors are being twisted by the global economy which is equally feeling the butterfly effect each time there is a crisis in global trade and interdependence. The EU has been debating what Greek's future would hold if the Greeks turned their back fully to the union. Greece is currently writing its own story to its far reaching drama.

Catastroika Privatization Goes Public

Thursday, 2 July 2015

7 African American churches attacked

Mt Zion AME Church in Greeley, North Carolina is the 7th church to burn following the Emmanuel church massacre

In less than two weeks, 7 and counting African American churches have been attacked by unknown assailants following the Charleston Massacre. These latest in a serious of attacks on small and medium size historic African American churches across the South from Texas to the Carolinas and Tennessee among other states. Often time the arson attacks are carried out by White terrorist groups in local counties and towns where the churches are located and mostly at night. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks. For decades, domestic terrorists and lone wolves have been burning down churches. The Ku Klux Klan and its neo nazi cousins still continue to burn wooden crosses and taunt to purposely intimidate and terrorize African American families and neighborhoods. Burning crosses no longer terrify the people. But destruction of historical and cultural buildings by the white terror groups or lone wolves has shocked many African Americans and the wider United States. Half a century ago these church burning were called terrorist attacks. But the U.S. security agencies have been hesitant to call the non coincidental arsons/burning terrorism. The KKK have recently been given the green light to rally in support of the Confederate battle flag at the South Carolina capital building. To add insult to injury that has yet to be an international solidarity March with African Americans saying, "Je Suis Charleston" from international leaders. However, the world has outright condemned the US for the Charleston massacre and racism.

Yvette Carnell: As black churches burn, Christians fight with forgiveness?