Tuesday, 28 June 2016

2 Explosion at Istanbul Ataturk Airport

Istanbul at night balances a modern city with its ancient roots and historical city. It's one of the few cities in the world to straddle two continents between East and West but does it well.

Two explosions have occurred at Istanbul Ataturk Airport. Sadly 10 innocent people have been killed in the double suicide bombing. No doubt it brings to mind memories of the recent Brussels Airport attacks. It is the main airport for Istanbul and a population of 15 million people. Tukey has been suffering from the backlash of the ongoing Syrian war and takfiri and ISIS' free fall terrorist attacks that have claimed the lives of hundreds if not thousands inside Syria, Iraq and Turkey. Kurd and Turkish citizens in Turkey have suffered from terror attacks and Turkish government bombings in Kurdish areas of Turkey. Tourists were targeted previously in Istanbul by a small group of ISIS affiliates but that didn't stop people from visiting it. Syrians have been passing through Turkey for refuge and as a jumping off point ot Europe. Aside from that, Turkey still receives tourists from around the world. Visitors still go to Istanbul and other cities such as Ankara, Izmir and other cultural and historical parts of Anatolia or Asian Turkey. Even with what ordinary Turks know and see about the war to the South, it is still shocking to hear that terrorist attack has happened at Istanbul Airport. This latest attack will send Turkish police, ministry of defence and other neighbouring countries into a frenzy of anti terror and security measures.

Magical Istanbul by Martigen1 

A first person view guide to the city

The city of Istanbul is one of the most famous and legendary cosmopolitan cities that crosses two continents Europe and Asia. Over time it has become a mega metropolis and one of the largest cities in the world. Most of the time, Istanbul is peaceful and friendly to both tourists and adventurers. When Istanbul is thought of, explosions and terrorism do not come to mind. Home to the Hagia Sophia, Suleyman Mosque, Blue Mosque, Bosporus Bridge and Straight, Galata Tower, Topkopi Palace, Istikial Shopping District, Chora Musuem among thousands of other landmarks makes Istanbul a rich cultural place that would make UNESCO envious. Once known as Constantinople, Istanbul was captured and became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1453. Since than the city has kept its former Byzantine history and arts from being lost to rapid urbanization and modernization. It also has its own unique history and arts that are celebrated.

A City of protest

Like other large cities, Istanbul has seen its own share of protests for human rights and respect for the marginalized in society. There have been frequent protests by young and old Turkish people from Pro Kurdish rights supporters toTaksim Gezi Park protest to Anti-government that were put down violently. Most recently, journalists inside the city have been holding demonstrations for press freedoms and critiques of government censorship, Erdogan and Turkish government's handling of terrorism and security and low key ISIS attacks along the Turkish-Syrian border.

Friday, 24 June 2016

UK Referendum results are in

Artwork from trumpet.net

This time, the people didn't let the fear of economic chaos and destabilization get in the way of voting in the Brexit/EU referendum. Inspite of Westminster government and Prime Minister David Cameroon's quest to praise the benefits of staying in the EU, Britain or it should be said the UK has voted to leave the European Union. 52% of the public voted to leave. While 48% chose to stay. This is counting each county and the home countries. Terrorism, the security state and migration policy and border control were the rally cry for the British exit. It will take a full two years for Britain to be completely separated from European Union, politically, socially, economically.

A Domino Effect across the EU? 

The repercussions of this is monumental. Upon hearing the news, financial markets have tanked while the pound dropped to a thirty year low. It's not a surprise. Financial markets tend to panic over large referendums especially if an economic system's future is tied to it. The market will be freaking out for a while. The EU will now be 27 instead of 28. James Cameron resigned not long after the vote to avoid the headache and conflict of full Brexit. Cameron will not leave office until October later this year following the Conservative Conference. So a new Prime Minister will have the joyful yet stressful job of steering Britain through its new future. The Brexit will definitely give other struggling EU member states looking at Greece, Portugal and France a good justification for the respective countries to also vote on rather to stay of leave the European Union. Future countries seeking to join the EU enlargement will also be thinking twice. It has given Scotland a big boost in reviving it's own independence referendum. Scotland, unlike the England and half of Wales wants to stay in the European Union. The Scottish Independent Party is currently in power in the Scottish parliament and occasionally harps the benefits of Scotland being part of the EU. The majority of Northern Ireland voted to stay in. Sinn Fein, who rarely comments on regional referendums has suggested that Northern Ireland could try to reunite with the rest of Ireland. Even Donald Trump as silly as he has become commented on the Brexit as being an understandable necessity that could inspire the United States. He made the remarks while visiting his golf course in Scotland. While there are no immediate effects, for the majority of British people, the long terms of affect will be felt for years to come. Next steps will be to go to the negotiation table with the EU.

Generational Gap 

Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party has campaigned for 20 years to get rid of Britain's membership in the European Union. He thought he was at a lost cause until June 23rd vote.

Some journalists have tried to blame the Leave vote on Millennial or the current Generation Y born between 1990 and onwards for not going out in droves to make their case. Most of the younger generation preferred that Britain stay within the EU. Many youth and Remain supporters campaigned to make their case. However, it was the older generation that proved to put their foot down. The older generation voters choose to leave the EU with some support from the younger generation. Britain first joined the European Union in 1973, some 43 years ago during the age of social movements and worker's fight for better rights. At the time today's baby boomer generation was coming of age followed by the flower power children ie hippies and revolutionary left who saw the world as needing genuine justice, economic and political unity. No matter if it came in the form of the European Union. Or in the form of alternative economic systems ie socialism that benefited all of society not just a few. As conservative and anti-union the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had been, she was surprisingly pro-European Union. Thatcher represented the British elite and often catered to the well being of the wealthy while punishing the union workers and the poor throughout her administration. Her TINA policy is still despied inside and outside Britain to this day. Yet, the EU in the 1970s-80s was seen as a benefit economically. Politically, the EU was seen as coming short on delivering a supranational, revolutionary political systems and services that benefit half a million people.The older generation who had lived before the EU's creation, won't be panicking over Britain's lost membership.

Eurosceptics having a field day

Eurosceptics have been gaining followers and media attention in Germany, Netherlands, France and Sweden and Czech Republic. Far right political parties Front Nationale (France), Alternative for Germany, Freedom Party (Netherlands), Golden Dawn and . Critics of the European Union have existed since the EU came into existence and since many member states adapted the Euro at the expense of their local currencies. The EU criticism ranging from reviving individual state sovereignty over international issues ie neoliberal policies and capitalism to the EU's failure to readily address security issues, border controls, migration and state rights vs regional rights. Disagreements with Brussels abound in nearly every capital. Greece has the economic justification to break away from the EU. There was talk of a Grexit years before the Brexit came along. The Greek people have had it with the Troika twisting and trying to reconfigure the shattered Greek economy and destroyed society with more long standing debt.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Saving Nubia from destruction

 Dam Project threatens Sudan's Nubians 2009

The Sudanese government has been gradually damming up the Nile Valley near Ancient Nubia. The Kajbar and Merowe Dams and the yet to be built Dal and Shereik dams are part of a five dam reservoir and generate electricity for Sudan. It is one of the largest national projects like Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam. But the ongoing and planned construction has done more damage than help ease the water shortage on the country. The future Dal, Shereik and Karim Dam projects will lead to the flooding and permanent destruction of Ancient Nubia and Kush, the mother civilization that built up Ancient Egypt/Kemet (mother of the Egyptians/Kemetans), emerged from the foundations of Kush kingdom (still Sudan) and Axum Empires and Land of Punt (Somalia) as well as the West African Empires Songhai, Ghana, Saharan trade. Ancient Nubia and Egypt ruled each other respectively. Yes the Nubian people are still here and speaking Nubian language. Even the Sudanese Arabs are Nubians themselves and are the descendants of Ancient Nubia. Many Nubians who live in Karima and other towns who were dispossessed of their home towns and lands and resettled miles away from their ancestral towns by the Kajbar dam construction have protested for years against further dam construction. Nubian cultural, language and political activists and rights organizations inside and outside Sudan have condemned Sudanese government and the Arab League for supporting the garantuan dam projects at the expense of local people. Nubian organization such as Save Nubia and Nubia Project have protested over the past months at Saudi Embassy and . While the end result is to make the Nile Valley the breadbasket of Sudan and eventually the Arab World, the Dam construction as with the Three Gorges Dam in China has caused irreversible environmental damage to the local landscape and people. Like many indigenous people around the world, the Nubians in Southern Egypt and Sudan have a deep connection to their lands, culture, history, identity and water.

 Nubians in Sudan today

Ancient Nubia, Kush it's importance to Africa and cultural identity

The Kajbar and Merowe Dams buried over 3,000 year old Nubian villages, farm lands and archeological sites and monuments along the Nile. Ancient Nubia is located in modern day Sudan and Southern Egypt. There are more pyramids in Sudan than in Egypt. Many pyramids became the basis of Nubian cities and towns, the most famous being at Merowe. When the Merowe Dam is built near the town of Karima which is not too far from Morow and the Ancient Nubian cities, many irreplacible Ancient Nubian archelogoical sites, pillars, some pyramids and towns and mounments of Nubian and Egyptian Phorarahs will be destroyed and lost by the dam. This is the same critical situation that faced the Northern part of Ancient Nubia in Southern Egypt when the Aswan Dam was built in 1964. At the time, the Aswan Dam was heralded as a modern marvel and ingenous way to aid in making Southern Egypt more fertile where the Nile had done for thousands of years. The engineers both Egyptian and foreign were not thinking of the long term consequences and what permanent displacement and cultural heritage lost means to the Nubian people then and now.

Professor Manu Ampim on eyewitness account of Merowe Dam's destruction of Ancient Kush/Nubia Part 1

Egypt and Nubia

Friday, 17 June 2016

Brexit boom or gloom, the long awaited vote

Britain's place in the world. It's less than an hour flight from London to any of the European capitals including Brussels. Britain is bordered on it's East  with France, Netherlands, Denmark. To its far North is Iceland to the extreme West is Canada and the United States and to its immediate safe is Spain and Portugal

It is getting close. In a week, Britain will decide if it wants to stay part of the European Union or be completely independent of the supranational state and Brussels once and for all. Whatever the British people decide on June 23rd, it will have ripple affects for Britain, EU and the wider world. British Prime Minister David Cameron has tried to convince the wider public that it would be better for society and the economy to stay part of the EU. The type of financial and economy infrastructure that would have to be readjusted and reformed is immense. Some economic analysts have suggested that a Brexit would be economically and financially disastrous in the same way that the independent Scotland movement was pushed into a corner in backing off its fully blown independence vote in 2014. Many other politicians and journalists are also arguing against a British exit for the EU as it would lead to a lot of economic and political uncertainty. A Parliamentarian has already lost their life on Brexit issue. Jo Cox, Labour MP representing Birstall, West Yorkshire was stabbed and shot to death in her constituency by a British nationalist, a 52 year old man. The assassin shouted, "Britain First." Cox's death has shocked the country. 

Independence Archipelago: Part of Europe but on its own terms

Britain in particular has been arguing against staying in the EU for years. It's a combination of geography, politics, history and culture. Despite having been conquered by continental Europeans for most of its history going back to at least Ancient Rome and even Greece, Britain is fiercly independent minded. Similiar to other island nations, Britain's politics, culture and language developed differently from Europe. Although the isle is close to Europe, London and Brussels are as different as night and day in terms of size, politics and culture. London has often competed with other capital cities for the title of the greatest city in the EU and the wider world. Ordinary British people d not like the idea of having to always go along with the other 27 member states on international issues especially migration and finances. Britain's dying influence in the world isn't overlooked.

For nearly a thousand years, England and France have been sparing and fighting with each other for super power status across the European continent. Britain and France have been competing empires across the world always trying to out do each other in economic might, sports (English fans have been tearing up different French cities during the past week), military and weapons supply, language prestige in international organizations whereas French used to be the prime language of diplomacy, cultural relevance and so on. However, Britain and the EU are gearing up.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Sudan water shortage

Water shortage in Korodofan in Arabic

Shortages in fuel, pollution of parts of the Nile and long queques for bread and basic commodities have been on going in Sudan for a few years now. Despite the self proclaimed president of the people, Omar Bashir and his government have not kept any of the election promises to at the very least fix many of the problems facing ordinary Sudanese and society at large. While Khartoum is slowly transforming itself into the "Dubai" of North Africa, other major cities and regions around Sudan are facing on going water shortages. It has been predicted for decades that the next world war will be over the most precious commodity on Earth: Water. In desert countries where water is a necessaity to live and thrive, water shortages can lead to many problems. It has already caused protests against the government in cities such as Port Sudan. Access to water and grazing lands is and remains at the root cause of the Darfur war and the Sudanese civil war between the North, South and the East. Port Sudan has faced ongoing water shortages while in Western Kodofan bordering South Kordofan, many people have had to queque for water for the past weeks. Many in West Kordofan rely on specific wells, portable water trucks and water stations for daily use. The shortage doesn't ease the rising tension between neighbors in the locality of El Sunut who feel that the local governemnt has done little to help residents. In Port Sudan, Beja Congress (a human rights and activists group fighting for the rights of Bejas and other Sudanese) have called on the Red Sea state governor to do more to find a workable solution to the water shortage before it turns into a crisis and lead to larger protest.

Water Scarcity and conflicts connection

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Terrorism's occurance and Orlando shooting suffer the people

Terrorism happens daily in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Nigeria Pakistan and Afghanistan. Western media including Japan, footnotes the ongoing terror attacks across the Middle East and Africa without emphasizing with the victims. Their names and faces are rarely mentioned are brought to the world's attention. Just a few days ago, 12 Yezidi women were burned alive by ISIS militants in Iraq for refusing to be with ISIS fighters. Sadly many Iraqi, Syrians, Palestinians and Yemenis have been forever traumatised by constant drone attacks and bombings carried by Saudi led coalition in Yemen, Israeli army in occupied Palestine, the ISIS-Al Nusra Front in Syria, Boko Haram and its takfiri cousins in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and ISIS/Al Qaeda takfiris in Libya. Once you lived through war and numbing terrorist attacks especially if it occurs every day (the likes that many people can not imagine) it begins to affect your subconscious and health. People in Syria, Libya and Nigeria are suffering from PTSD, anxiety and sociological issues from witnessing and hearing of terror attacks. Many children are being forced to become adults before their time, miss out on school and witness horrors that no child in the world should witness. Saudi/NATO indiscriminate bombings equally harm more civilians far more than soldiers. Even Russian and Syrian bombings of ISIS targets are ricocheting toward civilians have been condemned by Syrians. The wars occurring in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Palestine and Iraq are boomeranging back to many Western countries. The Belgian Airport, Paris attacks and now Orlando shootings are consequences of foreign policy and actions despite ceasefires that leads to the continuation of wars (through colour revolutions and forcibly changing governments via proxy rebel groups), twisting the UN's arm on Yemen bombing or crushing sanctions that punish people rather than politicians. In recent days, Syrian government has managed to push ISIS back. The media and pundits still can not see the connection between foreign policy, indifference to suffering abroad and terrorism in France and U.S. As the old saying goes "the chickens are coming home to roost." For the gun ho people who say, "bomb the Middle East" or "bomb them all" after every terrorist attack, remember most of the people on the receiving of drone attacks and coalition bombings are civilians (especially women, children and teens) and many times the so called smart military weapons from the U.S./UK/Israel miss their intended targets.

Once again, a mass shooting has occurred in the United States with 49 innocent people gone from the world. For the United States, the question of the 2nd Amendment (many American tend to interpret this amendment literally) and Gun rights has come to the forefront again. For the fifteenth time, yes it's the 15th time that President Obama has had to address the U.S. over a mass shooting in his 8 years in office. The shooting now termed a terrorist attack after the president's address to the nation in which he used the term to describe the massacre, occurred at the up scale gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, June 12th.  Pulse was supposed to be a safe haven for its visitors and reoccurring guests facing problems and refuge from the chaos in society.

Orlando shooting witness

Carlos Rosario, witness re accounts Orlando MSNBC

 Motivations aren't always religious

Many of the victims were between the ages of 20-50 years old, majority of whom were also Latino. There is a large Puerto Rican American population in Orlando as well as a large Caribbean American and expat Latin American communities in Orlando and other parts of Florida ie Miami. Florida is one of the closest states to Caribbean and South America. It is not known if any expats or international visitors were caught in the attack. The sad irony, the attack comes on the heels of the death of Muhammad Ali and the death of Christian Grimmie occurred in Orlando. It also happens during the newly formed LGBT month in the U.S. and also a few weeks before Pride parades take place in the state and world. The gunman Omar Mateen who was an American born in New York to Afghan parents, was more motivated by a hatred of gay people than just another ISIS follower. Religion wasn't a large factor in the attack either. It didn't stop Republican nominee Donald Trump from reiterating his claim to fame that there needs to be a ban of Muslims to the U.S. Some think that the attack will help Trump triumph in the election. A third party candidate that is challenging Trump and Clinton as a write in candidate has pleaded not to "politicise the Orlando shooting." It took the police three hours to halt the attack. With the gunman dead, the police are slowly piecing together Omar's motivation. It is worth noting that the FBI had monitored Omar for the slightest suspicious behaviour but did little. The same can be said of French and Belgian intelligence who also monitored local citizens who became terrorists during the Belgian airport and Paris attacks. Not only did the intelligence was not thorough on its observations on Omar but the fact that he managed to buy military style weapons and bulletproof vest didn't raise the gun shop owner or local authorities' eyebrows. There are many Americans who don't like gay people or are angered by the Supreme Court's approval of gay marriage being legal across the country. It's still a decision that stuns secular Americans as well. They feel that the gay lifestyle and homosexuality are being shovelled down their throats on a daily basis. By watching American TV it would not seem like an exaggeration. Yet, they don't commit mass shootings or terror attacks to express their anger most of the time. We are talking about secular and non religious people.

An investigative documentary on American Gun culture from TV 9 News India (rare )  in Telugu


Manliness and Guns 

As mentioned many times, American society has a serious problem with gun fascination and promoting manliness through gun use. Think of the image of the cowboy, shoot em up protagonist in various action video games or the self proclaimed hero in every horror movie. Most Americans (we are talking about the ordinary people not just the politicians) do not find anything wrong with the NRA and gun lobby being able to pull Congress' arm on reconsidering and possibly changing the 2nd amendment. Even debating tougher gun control sends gun advocates and the gun safety into defensive rebuttals about freedom and the right of self defence. The argument that everyone needs a gun and more guns would stop mass shootings and local terror attacks only adds to violence. When mass shootings happened in Scotland in 1996 and a shooting attack on tourists in Australia, both countries reformed their gun laws to make it impossible for gun violence on the magnitude of both massacres to reoccur again. It's almost impossible for guns to be easily access by any citizens today.

Once upon a time in Orlando

When anyone thinks of Orlando, the first thing that comes to mind is Disneyland and happiness. The city of Orlando is home to some of the largest theme parks and amusement parks other than Disneyland that includes Universal Studios, Wet N Wild, Gator World, Sea World and other local attractions. It is a family friendly city and is a suburban tourist destination. Millions of American and foreign visitors come to the city weekly to annually. This is not to say that Orlando and other cities of Florida do not have crimes or shootings. Crimes occur in the shadows and can be seen on local news channels. But Orlando would be the last place will anyone would think a gunman disrupt Latin night at a local club. The shock of the attack is still being felt across the United States. The Orlando attack now tops any previous mass shooting with the exception of the Sandy Hook Massacre and the more recent Charleston Church attack.

Even Disney World can't shield adults and children from the pain of the world.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Sudan government paranoa and press

In the shadows of Sudanese President Omar Bashir's recent visits to Uganda and South Africa several months ago, the ignored war against SPLM North rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile State and Darfur continue. The war is used as a justification by the Sudanese government (not just Bashir) i.e. the Defence Ministry, the notorious NISS and other counter terrorism measures as part of Sudan government's fifth against internal "terrorism."

Sudan Media Freedoms

As with any political party that has been in power for over 25+ years, Bashir's ruling NCP Party has become paranoid over the fact that they are not only unpopular with ordinary Sudanese living in metropolitan Khartoum but across the wider country. For every protest by students, farmers and marginalized villagers in the mentioned regions and in the capital, the government has used excessive force to keep the peace. Over the last year, the NISS (Sudanese Intelligence and Security Services) aka the Mukhabarat in other Arab countries, have been closing down various newspapers across the capital and country that question the government's motives and critiques policies aimed at repressing ordinary Sudanese's rights to protest particularly ongoing student criticism and question domestic and foreign policies. Crushing journalists and closing down newspaper publishing houses makes it harder for local Sudanese journalists to report on the continual war and military destruction against civilians by the government and militia groups in Darfur, Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile state and Eastern Red Sea state.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Europe Travel Warnings, sports and terror anxiety

The most updated map of Europe. Kosovo is highlighted in red and Montenegro in brown. Europe's current borders may change in the near future depending on the ongoing separatist movements in the region and the movement's international support and recognition abroad.

The article below was originally written May 31st.
 Summer has already begun for most of the world. There will be hundreds of migrants from Asia and Africa attempting to make the Mediterranean crossing to Europe ie Italy, Greece and Spain including the occupied Canary Islands and the tiny autonomous Spanish cities Cueta and Melilia in Morocco. Refugees are still crossing the border into Turkey from Syria. Despite the deaths of 880 migrants last week, more people will continue to come even as Greece closes down the Idomeni Camp on Macedonia-Greece border and Turkey slowly begins to turn boats away from Europe. The continuous war in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Pakistan have pushed people to risk their lives to find safety in neighbouring countries or abroad.

Euro 2016 Preview

On a non political note, Europe is also getting ready to witness the second most watched football competition in the world after the World Cup: Euro 2016. The commencement of Euro 2016 championships hosted by France, coincides with the Copa America 2016 Centennial. The United States will be hosting Copa America 2016 for the first time ever. It is worth noting that football or soccer (in U.S., Australia and New Zealand) is still seen as a kid's sport and not as popular as basketball and baseball. It ranks fourth after Hockey in the list of top five popular sports in the U.S. 
 The U.S. State Department has issued a terror attack warning as part of the usual travel warning for Americans travelling to the games or visiting Europe in general to be alert of their surroundings. Sporting venues in the United States are now famous for involving a collaboration of fighter jets, CIA/FBI, local homeland security police, sheriff departments and private security contractors monitoring the stadium, crowd, lines and movements around the clock and weeks before the tournaments began. The same measures were taken during the 2012 London Olympics. There were British soldiers sitting in the stadium crowds on various events. In short, football security has become like Israeli security state. France has used a lot of security measures to make sure that even microscopic details are not overlooked. All of these measures are providing relief to the more paranoid and anxious Europeans and other visitors who may feel that security state should be breathing down every person's neck.

Back to Euro 2016. This year will see the top, the best of the best and fortunate national teams across Europe vying for the title of UEFA Euro champions. Some 10 million people are expected to attend the tournament and travel around France at the same time. Most of the world will be watching with blood pressures and anxiety rising throughout the month long derby from June-July 2016. Like any sporting venue, security will be egregiously tedious. Following the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris, in which the Stade du France (national football stadium) was attacked, French security forces and the government have taken every precautionary measure to ensure that any future attack does not occur at any other public venue or event.