Content about Business

November 16, 2013

Germany authorities are ready to deport several US diplomats if the information that they wiretapped on phone calls is confirmed, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich has claimed. “It’s quite clear that if US embassy or other agencies employees are involved in the case, they will be punished. Speaking of diplomats, they will be deported,” Friedrich said in an interview to the ARD,  Allgemeine Rundfunk Deutschland news network in Berlin, Germany. Voice of Russia also reported that Washington still didn’t have answers to many questions Germany had asked the US in relation to the scandal.

The Jurist website stated that  Germany and Brazil have proposed a draft resolution within the UN General Assembly calling for member states to take measures to put an end to "gross invasions of privacy" such as excessive electronic surveillance and data collection. Although the resolution does not specifically indicate any countries, recent events such as allegations that the National Security Agency (NSA)has spied on more than 60 million phone calls made in Spain indicate that the resolution is directed at the US and its various surveillance programs.

According to European media reports, the US NSA eavesdropped on phone calls of 28 EU countries representatives, including Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. American secret services also spied on these countries’ embassies in Washington, the UK Guardian newspaper says. Earlier this month, German Der Spiegel magazine reported that US intelligence had allegedly tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone. The complete outrage of the Germans has manifested in discussions about requesting Edward Snowden to verify the allegations of the German chancellor’s mobile phone surveillance in a Guardian UK news report:

“ The justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper: "If the allegations build up and lead to an investigation, one could think about calling in Snowden as a witness."

Thomas Oppermann, of the Social Democrats, said: "Snowden's claims appear to be credible, while the US government has blatantly lied to us on this matter. That's why Snowden could be an important witness, also in clearing up the surveillance of the chancellor's mobile."

November 8, 2013

WASHINGTON - Pakistani survivors of American drone strikes who live in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of northwest Pakistan, spoke to members of the US Congress Tuesday, and called for an end to killing civilians with weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles.

Rafiqur Rehman; his son Zubair (12); and daughter Nabila (9) told a packed room in the Rayburn House Office Building that Momina Bibi, who perished on October 24, 2012, while working in a field near their home in North Waziristan, was “the string that held the pearls of our family together, and that string has been broken, and we are all lost”.

Congressman Alan Grayson, a Democrat, invited Rafiq to speak in Washington about the strike last October that killed his 67-year-old mother who, he said, was recognized around the region as a midwife, not a militant. Regardless, a weaponized CIA drone executed Momina in front of her grandchildren on Oct 24, 2012.

The US has not formally acknowledged the attack, nor taken responsibility.

“Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day,” Rafiq said during the Tuesday morning panel. “Only one person was killed that day. A mom, grandma, a midwife.

“The string that holds the pearls together. That is what my mother was,” Rafiq said in an emotionally choked voice. “Since her death, the string has been broken and life has not been the same. We feel alone and we feel lost.”

Speaking before members of Congress, Rafiq thanked Congressman Grayson for the invitation and said it was reassuring that some members of the US government were willing to try and shed light on a gruesome operation rarely acknowledged publicly in Washington.

If he has the opportunity to meet President Barack Obama, Rafiq said, he will ask him to “find a peaceful end to the war in my country, and end these drones.”

Rafiq said he has seen people living peacefully in the United States and wants a similar peaceful environment in North Waziristan and dreams that his children would be able to complete their education and help rebuild Pakistan.“We can achieve peace through education,” he said.

The US and Pakistan should work together to resolve the problem, he said.

“I am a teacher, my job is to educate,” said Rafiq. “But how can I teach this? How can I teach what I don’t understand?”

Rafiq’s 12-year-old son, Zubair, told Grayson and the few congressional colleagues that joined him on the Hill Tuesday that he was with his grandmother last year when she was killed shortly after the buzzing of a drone was heard hovering above them.

“As I helped my grandma in the field, I could see and hear (a) drone overhead but wasn’t worried because we’re not militants,” Zubair said. “I no longer like blue skies. In fact, I prefer gray skies. When sky brightens, drones return and we live in fear.

“We used to love to play outside. But now people are afraid to leave their houses so we don’t play very often,” the boy added.

Zubair’s sister, Nabila, was picking okra in a field with her grandmother at the time of the attack. She testified that she heard the noise from above. “Everything was dark and I couldn’t see anything, but I heard a scream...I was very scared and all I could think of doing was just run,” she said.

They were joined at the hearing by Robert Greenwald, a filmmaker who has been working in Pakistan over the past several months on a project related to the ongoing US drone strikes. Testifying on his own behalf, Greenwald suggested that the ongoing operations waged by the US as an alleged counter-terrorism operation are breeding anti-American sentiment at a rate that makes Qaeda jealous.

“Yes, there are 100 or 200 fanatics, but now you have 800,000 people in this area who hate the US because of this policy,” Greenwald said. Greenwald added that the research he’s seen indicated that 178 children have been killed in Pakistan by US drone strikes. “We’ve gone from being the most popular country among Pakistani to, according to the polling I’ve seen, the least popular,” Grayson said. “And if you ask people why, the reason is this program.”

“I hope that by telling you about my village and grandmother, you realize drones are not the answer,” pleaded 12-year-old Zubair.

Congressman Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat, said at the hearing that she would bring up the witnesses’ plight with the White House. Grayson said that “friends of the military industrial complex” in Washington would likely keep a full discussion from occurring immediately in Washington, adding that “I don’t expect to see a formal hearing conducted on this subject anytime soon.”

November 8, 2013

WASHINGTON - Pakistani survivors of American drone strikes who live in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of northwest Pakistan, spoke to members of the US Congress Tuesday, and called for an end to killing civilians with weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles.

Rafiqur Rehman; his son Zubair (12); and daughter Nabila (9) told a packed room in the Rayburn House Office Building that Momina Bibi, who perished on October 24, 2012, while working in a field near their home in North Waziristan, was “the string that held the pearls of our family together, and that string has been broken, and we are all lost”.

Congressman Alan Grayson, a Democrat, invited Rafiq to speak in Washington about the strike last October that killed his 67-year-old mother who, he said, was recognized around the region as a midwife, not a militant. Regardless, a weaponized CIA drone executed Momina in front of her grandchildren on Oct 24, 2012.

The US has not formally acknowledged the attack, nor taken responsibility.

“Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day,” Rafiq said during the Tuesday morning panel. “Only one person was killed that day. A mom, grandma, a midwife.

“The string that holds the pearls together. That is what my mother was,” Rafiq said in an emotionally choked voice. “Since her death, the string has been broken and life has not been the same. We feel alone and we feel lost.”

Speaking before members of Congress, Rafiq thanked Congressman Grayson for the invitation and said it was reassuring that some members of the US government were willing to try and shed light on a gruesome operation rarely acknowledged publicly in Washington.

If he has the opportunity to meet President Barack Obama, Rafiq said, he will ask him to “find a peaceful end to the war in my country, and end these drones.”

Rafiq said he has seen people living peacefully in the United States and wants a similar peaceful environment in North Waziristan and dreams that his children would be able to complete their education and help rebuild Pakistan.“We can achieve peace through education,” he said.

The US and Pakistan should work together to resolve the problem, he said.

“I am a teacher, my job is to educate,” said Rafiq. “But how can I teach this? How can I teach what I don’t understand?”

Rafiq’s 12-year-old son, Zubair, told Grayson and the few congressional colleagues that joined him on the Hill Tuesday that he was with his grandmother last year when she was killed shortly after the buzzing of a drone was heard hovering above them.

“As I helped my grandma in the field, I could see and hear (a) drone overhead but wasn’t worried because we’re not militants,” Zubair said. “I no longer like blue skies. In fact, I prefer gray skies. When sky brightens, drones return and we live in fear.

“We used to love to play outside. But now people are afraid to leave their houses so we don’t play very often,” the boy added.

Zubair’s sister, Nabila, was picking okra in a field with her grandmother at the time of the attack. She testified that she heard the noise from above. “Everything was dark and I couldn’t see anything, but I heard a scream...I was very scared and all I could think of doing was just run,” she said.

They were joined at the hearing by Robert Greenwald, a filmmaker who has been working in Pakistan over the past several months on a project related to the ongoing US drone strikes. Testifying on his own behalf, Greenwald suggested that the ongoing operations waged by the US as an alleged counter-terrorism operation are breeding anti-American sentiment at a rate that makes Qaeda jealous.

“Yes, there are 100 or 200 fanatics, but now you have 800,000 people in this area who hate the US because of this policy,” Greenwald said. Greenwald added that the research he’s seen indicated that 178 children have been killed in Pakistan by US drone strikes. “We’ve gone from being the most popular country among Pakistani to, according to the polling I’ve seen, the least popular,” Grayson said. “And if you ask people why, the reason is this program.”

“I hope that by telling you about my village and grandmother, you realize drones are not the answer,” pleaded 12-year-old Zubair.

Congressman Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat, said at the hearing that she would bring up the witnesses’ plight with the White House. Grayson said that “friends of the military industrial complex” in Washington would likely keep a full discussion from occurring immediately in Washington, adding that “I don’t expect to see a formal hearing conducted on this subject anytime soon.”

November 5, 2013

  Muhammad Tanvir was asked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, to spy on his Pakistani community. He refused, and so he remains on the No-Fly List--and he can’t visit an ailing mother.
Tanvir is now taking action, along with other Muslims, against the FBI’s attempt to coerce them into spying on their own community in exchange for getting off the No-Fly List. Tanvir, a resident of the Bronx, recently testified in court against the FBI for its no-fly practices.
Tanvir’s lawsuit, which the Center for Constitutional Rights, also referred to as CCR, has taken on, is putting the FBI on the hotseat. “Mr. Tanvir has been prevented from flying despite the fact that he does not present any threat to aviation security,” the CCR suit reads, according to the Courthouse News Service. “Instead, defendants sought to exploit the draconian burden posed by the No Fly List, including the inability to travel for work, or to visit family overseas; in order to coerce him into serving the FBI as a spy within American Muslim communities and places of worship.”
The No-Fly List, instituted after September 11, arbitrarily puts thousands of people on a list that prevents them from traveling. Tanvir is not the only one to have been pressured by the FBI.
A separate American Civil Liberties Union suit filed in 2010 represents other Muslims trying to get their names off the No-Fly List. One of them is Nagib Ali Ghaleb, a Yemeni-American. In 2010, Ghaleb flew to Yemen to see his family and meet with U.S. consular officials about delayed visa applications for his wife and children. But on his way back, while awaiting to board a plane in Germany, an FBI agent questioned him. According to a recent ACLU report, Ghaleb “was directed to submit to an interview with FBI agents, who questioned him about his mosque and the San Francisco Yemeni community. The FBI agents asked him to become an informant for the FBI in California, but Mr. Ghaleb said he did not know any dangerous people and would not spy on innocent people in mosques.” Ghaleb remains on the No-Fly List.
The practice of pressuring Muslims to become informants in their own communities in exchange for law enforcement help is one clear example of an apparatus running roughshod over the rights of Muslims in the U.S. It’s also a practice familiar to Muslims in New York City, who have to deal with a police department that has implemented a surveillance dragnet with the help of Central Intelligence Agency officials.
After 9/11, CIA officials strategized with the New York Police Department on how best to collect intelligence to prevent the next terrorist attack. The NYPD’s Intelligence Division ended up creating an operation where informants and undercover agents infiltrate mosques and student groups. The NYPD has labeled at least a dozen mosques as “terrorism enterprises” in order to infiltrate them. And in order to employ informants able to infiltrate Muslim communities, they usually strike a deal with people in trouble with the law. In exchange for spying on their community, the informant gets help from the NYPD in avoiding punishment for crimes.

November 5, 2013

  Muhammad Tanvir was asked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, to spy on his Pakistani community. He refused, and so he remains on the No-Fly List--and he can’t visit an ailing mother.
Tanvir is now taking action, along with other Muslims, against the FBI’s attempt to coerce them into spying on their own community in exchange for getting off the No-Fly List. Tanvir, a resident of the Bronx, recently testified in court against the FBI for its no-fly practices.
Tanvir’s lawsuit, which the Center for Constitutional Rights, also referred to as CCR, has taken on, is putting the FBI on the hotseat. “Mr. Tanvir has been prevented from flying despite the fact that he does not present any threat to aviation security,” the CCR suit reads, according to the Courthouse News Service. “Instead, defendants sought to exploit the draconian burden posed by the No Fly List, including the inability to travel for work, or to visit family overseas; in order to coerce him into serving the FBI as a spy within American Muslim communities and places of worship.”
The No-Fly List, instituted after September 11, arbitrarily puts thousands of people on a list that prevents them from traveling. Tanvir is not the only one to have been pressured by the FBI.
A separate American Civil Liberties Union suit filed in 2010 represents other Muslims trying to get their names off the No-Fly List. One of them is Nagib Ali Ghaleb, a Yemeni-American. In 2010, Ghaleb flew to Yemen to see his family and meet with U.S. consular officials about delayed visa applications for his wife and children. But on his way back, while awaiting to board a plane in Germany, an FBI agent questioned him. According to a recent ACLU report, Ghaleb “was directed to submit to an interview with FBI agents, who questioned him about his mosque and the San Francisco Yemeni community. The FBI agents asked him to become an informant for the FBI in California, but Mr. Ghaleb said he did not know any dangerous people and would not spy on innocent people in mosques.” Ghaleb remains on the No-Fly List.
The practice of pressuring Muslims to become informants in their own communities in exchange for law enforcement help is one clear example of an apparatus running roughshod over the rights of Muslims in the U.S. It’s also a practice familiar to Muslims in New York City, who have to deal with a police department that has implemented a surveillance dragnet with the help of Central Intelligence Agency officials.
After 9/11, CIA officials strategized with the New York Police Department on how best to collect intelligence to prevent the next terrorist attack. The NYPD’s Intelligence Division ended up creating an operation where informants and undercover agents infiltrate mosques and student groups. The NYPD has labeled at least a dozen mosques as “terrorism enterprises” in order to infiltrate them. And in order to employ informants able to infiltrate Muslim communities, they usually strike a deal with people in trouble with the law. In exchange for spying on their community, the informant gets help from the NYPD in avoiding punishment for crimes.

October 29, 2013

  So what was it all about?  The Senate deal ending the shutdown and deferring a default until the next time has solved nothing. It is as if we have been given a break for Thanksgiving and the Christmas shopping season until the partisan wars resume.  The fighting and arguing have only ceased.

 

It is unlikely that any of the instigators have learned anything other than how a handful of parliamentary savvy kamikazes can bring the government to its knees in the name of a righteous cause—not to bring about change, but to try to stop changes they don’t like.

 

When the Ted Cruz missile against Obamacare helped trigger the melee that closed national parks, limited government services and disrupted the livelihoods of 800,000 federal employees and the lives of millions, many wondered why, when it was clear the extreme right was pursuing an unachievable goal.

 

Senator John McCain warned them that they couldn’t stop the health care reform, as did others in their Party. The White House stood firm, as did most Democrats. The Tea Party offensive was widely seen as offensive, or as an extortion ploy, an attempt to nullify a law, but also a non-starter.

 

That didn’t stop the true believers.  Like the Light Brigade of old, they charged on. Clearly this was a case of ideology uber politics, but behind it was a strategy.

 

First, they wanted to weaken the Republican center and they did, making Speaker Boehner look powerless and out of control. The best media line about him was that he was “herding cats.”

 

Second, they wanted to prove that if they don’t get their way, no one else can or will.

 

They conceded a short term tactical set back, but lived to fight another day for longer-term goals.  In that way, they can be “responsible” and continue to enjoy business support.

 

As some Democrats celebrated, AP reported. “Hold the champagne. Even after lawmakers complete their pending deal to avert a federal default and fully reopen the government, they are likely to return to their grinding brand of brinkmanship – perhaps repeatedly.”

 

“Brinksmanship” is another word for ‘systematic political warfare’.  This spasm of rebellion emboldened the fundamentalists among them; it did not weaken them.

 

Sure, they overreached tactically—if you assume what they were saying was their real agenda.

 

As former federal regulator William Black explained in an article about their “tactical brilliance but strategic incompetence,” their demands could not be met, but that was never the point.

 

Black writes,

 

“the means by which the GOP sought to extort Obama to sacrifice Obamacare made it impossible for Obama to surrender to the Tea Party.  The Tea Party was openly threatening to use very short-term extensions of the debt ceiling to repeatedly extort Obama to make enormous, humiliating concessions.  This meant that if Obama gave in to their extortion he was dooming his presidency.”

 

If you assume they knew this, what was the real strategy?

 

They created a crisis to show that they could create a crisis and milk it as long as they could. It was a way that Junior members of Congress could get press attention.

 

It was also a way of energizing their base, not just politically, but financially.

 

The Daily Kos commented on Instigator in Chief Ted Cruz’s claim that two million people signed his petition noting that he now has a much larger list of potential donors. In this respect, he sees himself as a winner, not a loser.

 

He used the crisis to build a media profile with a self-promotional filibuster that excited supporters, whatever it lacked in clarity, logic and analysis.

 

Noted Felix Salmon, a financial blogger for Reuters:

 

“The Ted Cruz “filibuster” … served no actual legislative purpose, and at the end of his idiotically long speech, Cruz ended up voting yes on the very bill he was trying to kill. That’s zombie politics, and the problem with zombies is that — being dead already — they’re incredibly hard to kill.”

 

To him, the Tea Party is a  zombie army, a movement, not a person — and it’s an aggressively anti-logical movement, at that.  So he argues, “You can’t negotiate with a zombie.” (Many Americans identify with zombies these days because of their overexposure on TV and in the movies.)

 

So, we need to understand, this confrontation was never about logic or even a clear political agenda; it was about movement-building and dominating the discourse through hostage taking to bully and intimidate centrist Republicans and Democrats alike. Most of all, they wanted to snub the Nation’s father figure—President Obama.

 

Behind their slogans, they were saying  to the folks at home: ‘look at me!’

 

In that respect, the zealots were wildly successful in keeping their faux rebellion going, cheered on by Faux News and the underbelly their visibility attracts, including the guy grinning like an idiot and waving the Confederate flag in front of the White House.

 

The Atlantic, and many liberal media outlets, have convinced themselves that the “Republicans Shut Down the Government for Nothing” but it was always all about them, not specific goals.

 

This strategy is, at bottom, about interests, not issues, power, not political advantage.

 

Republican consultant and former Boehner aide Terry Holt admits:

 

“The differences are not about objectives, the differences are about tactics. This is the muddle through Congress. We are going to lurch from disaster to disaster until we have the prelude, which is 2014 and then the next presidential election. There is no incentive for either side to give in - period.”

 

So there you have it - a declaration of permanent war in which, like guerillas in combat, the point is not to hold ground, but to keep moving and harass the enemy, keeping them off guard whatever the costs to the economy or the morale of the country.

 

They expect many Americans will surrender just to have peace, and that’s how a relentless minority can impose its agenda.

 

The Vietnamese General Giap who died last week at age 102 used similar tactics that were grounded in the idea that war is politics by other means.

 

Bloomberg interviewed a moderate Republican, Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, who explained, “There are no winners in this process, everybody loses. The only question you guys are trying to figure out is who loses more? And how long-term the damage will be?”

 

Former veteran newspaperman Bernard Weiner, now the co-editor of The Crisis Papers, tried to explain all this to friends in France, writing:

 

“Even in the best of times, American politics rarely makes rational sense. But right now is almost the worst of times. From Europe it may appear that you are witnessing recess at a school for naughty, malicious children. While that’s true, we need to enlarge the frame of that portrait to get closer to the whole picture and to assign proper blame rather than just accept the mainstream media’s false meme that “both sides are equally responsible” for the governmental shutdown and debt crisis.”

Danny Schechter blogs daily at Newsdissector.net and edits Mediachannel.org

October 29, 2013

  So what was it all about?  The Senate deal ending the shutdown and deferring a default until the next time has solved nothing. It is as if we have been given a break for Thanksgiving and the Christmas shopping season until the partisan wars resume.  The fighting and arguing have only ceased.

 

It is unlikely that any of the instigators have learned anything other than how a handful of parliamentary savvy kamikazes can bring the government to its knees in the name of a righteous cause—not to bring about change, but to try to stop changes they don’t like.

 

When the Ted Cruz missile against Obamacare helped trigger the melee that closed national parks, limited government services and disrupted the livelihoods of 800,000 federal employees and the lives of millions, many wondered why, when it was clear the extreme right was pursuing an unachievable goal.

 

Senator John McCain warned them that they couldn’t stop the health care reform, as did others in their Party. The White House stood firm, as did most Democrats. The Tea Party offensive was widely seen as offensive, or as an extortion ploy, an attempt to nullify a law, but also a non-starter.

 

That didn’t stop the true believers.  Like the Light Brigade of old, they charged on. Clearly this was a case of ideology uber politics, but behind it was a strategy.

 

First, they wanted to weaken the Republican center and they did, making Speaker Boehner look powerless and out of control. The best media line about him was that he was “herding cats.”

 

Second, they wanted to prove that if they don’t get their way, no one else can or will.

 

They conceded a short term tactical set back, but lived to fight another day for longer-term goals.  In that way, they can be “responsible” and continue to enjoy business support.

 

As some Democrats celebrated, AP reported. “Hold the champagne. Even after lawmakers complete their pending deal to avert a federal default and fully reopen the government, they are likely to return to their grinding brand of brinkmanship – perhaps repeatedly.”

 

“Brinksmanship” is another word for ‘systematic political warfare’.  This spasm of rebellion emboldened the fundamentalists among them; it did not weaken them.

 

Sure, they overreached tactically—if you assume what they were saying was their real agenda.

 

As former federal regulator William Black explained in an article about their “tactical brilliance but strategic incompetence,” their demands could not be met, but that was never the point.

 

Black writes,

 

“the means by which the GOP sought to extort Obama to sacrifice Obamacare made it impossible for Obama to surrender to the Tea Party.  The Tea Party was openly threatening to use very short-term extensions of the debt ceiling to repeatedly extort Obama to make enormous, humiliating concessions.  This meant that if Obama gave in to their extortion he was dooming his presidency.”

 

If you assume they knew this, what was the real strategy?

 

They created a crisis to show that they could create a crisis and milk it as long as they could. It was a way that Junior members of Congress could get press attention.

 

It was also a way of energizing their base, not just politically, but financially.

 

The Daily Kos commented on Instigator in Chief Ted Cruz’s claim that two million people signed his petition noting that he now has a much larger list of potential donors. In this respect, he sees himself as a winner, not a loser.

 

He used the crisis to build a media profile with a self-promotional filibuster that excited supporters, whatever it lacked in clarity, logic and analysis.

 

Noted Felix Salmon, a financial blogger for Reuters:

 

“The Ted Cruz “filibuster” … served no actual legislative purpose, and at the end of his idiotically long speech, Cruz ended up voting yes on the very bill he was trying to kill. That’s zombie politics, and the problem with zombies is that — being dead already — they’re incredibly hard to kill.”

 

To him, the Tea Party is a  zombie army, a movement, not a person — and it’s an aggressively anti-logical movement, at that.  So he argues, “You can’t negotiate with a zombie.” (Many Americans identify with zombies these days because of their overexposure on TV and in the movies.)

 

So, we need to understand, this confrontation was never about logic or even a clear political agenda; it was about movement-building and dominating the discourse through hostage taking to bully and intimidate centrist Republicans and Democrats alike. Most of all, they wanted to snub the Nation’s father figure—President Obama.

 

Behind their slogans, they were saying  to the folks at home: ‘look at me!’

 

In that respect, the zealots were wildly successful in keeping their faux rebellion going, cheered on by Faux News and the underbelly their visibility attracts, including the guy grinning like an idiot and waving the Confederate flag in front of the White House.

 

The Atlantic, and many liberal media outlets, have convinced themselves that the “Republicans Shut Down the Government for Nothing” but it was always all about them, not specific goals.

 

This strategy is, at bottom, about interests, not issues, power, not political advantage.

 

Republican consultant and former Boehner aide Terry Holt admits:

 

“The differences are not about objectives, the differences are about tactics. This is the muddle through Congress. We are going to lurch from disaster to disaster until we have the prelude, which is 2014 and then the next presidential election. There is no incentive for either side to give in - period.”

 

So there you have it - a declaration of permanent war in which, like guerillas in combat, the point is not to hold ground, but to keep moving and harass the enemy, keeping them off guard whatever the costs to the economy or the morale of the country.

 

They expect many Americans will surrender just to have peace, and that’s how a relentless minority can impose its agenda.

 

The Vietnamese General Giap who died last week at age 102 used similar tactics that were grounded in the idea that war is politics by other means.

 

Bloomberg interviewed a moderate Republican, Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, who explained, “There are no winners in this process, everybody loses. The only question you guys are trying to figure out is who loses more? And how long-term the damage will be?”

 

Former veteran newspaperman Bernard Weiner, now the co-editor of The Crisis Papers, tried to explain all this to friends in France, writing:

 

“Even in the best of times, American politics rarely makes rational sense. But right now is almost the worst of times. From Europe it may appear that you are witnessing recess at a school for naughty, malicious children. While that’s true, we need to enlarge the frame of that portrait to get closer to the whole picture and to assign proper blame rather than just accept the mainstream media’s false meme that “both sides are equally responsible” for the governmental shutdown and debt crisis.”

Danny Schechter blogs daily at Newsdissector.net and edits Mediachannel.org

October 16, 2013

 

Most of the Africans forced to come to America were of noble ancestry.  They came from kings and queens. Many were Muslims - noted scholars having full knowledge of Holy Quran (Hafiz) and the Sunnah (ways and sayings of the Holy Last Messenger) peace and blessings be upon him.  They upheld the five pillars of Islam in a hostile environment.  *A large proportion  of the Muslims arrived in the New World already literate, reading and writing Arabic and their own languages transcribed in the Arabic alphabet.  As other Africans came from exclusively  oral cultures, and as learning to read and write was either illegal or actively discouraged for all slaves in the Americas, literacy became one of the most distinguishing marks of the Muslims.* Contemplating these facts and those to come after,  is it any wonder, that these realities give credence to the saying “America is our country, Islam is our way of life, and freedom is our right?”

The following list are inventions by people of African descent and the possible scenario without them.

There are very few crops that have would have flourished, because the nation was built on a slave-supported system.

There would be no cities with tall skyscrapers because Alexander Miles, a man of African descent, patented an electric elevator, and without his knowledge, one finds great difficulty reaching higher floors.

There are few if any cars because Richard Spikes, a man of African descent, invented the automatic gearshift and in 1932 licensed the patent for $100,000 and he also has a long list of very notable inventions worth mentioning. Joseph Gambol, also of brown color, invented the supercharger system for internal combustion engines and Garrett A. Morgan invented  traffic signals.

Furthermore, one could not use the rapid transit system because its procurer was the electric trolley, which was invented by another man , Albert R. Robinson, yes - of African descent.

Even if there were streets on which cars and a rapid transit system could operate, they would be cluttered with paper because an African American, Charles Brooks, invented the street sweeper.

There were few if any newspapers, magazines and books because John Love invented the pencil sharpener, William Purveys invented the fountain pen, and Lee Barrage invented the typewriting machine and W. A. Love invented the advanced printing press. They were all - you guessed it - of African descent.

Even if Americans could write their letters, articles and books, they would not have been transported by mail because William Barry invented the postmarking and canceling machine, William Purveys invented the handstamp and Philip Downing invented the letter drop.

The lawns were brown and wilted because Joseph Smith invented the Lawn Sprinkler and John Burr the lawn mower.

When they entered their homes, they found them to be poorly ventilated and poorly heated. You see, Frederick Jones invented the air conditioner and Alice Parker the heating furnace.

 

Their homes were also dim. But of course, Lewis Lattimer later invented the electric Lamp, Michael Harvey invented the lantern and Granville T. Woods invented the automatic cut off switch.

Their homes were also filthy because Thomas W. Steward invented the household mop and Lloyd P. Ray the dust pan.

Their children met them at the door-barefooted, shabby, motley and unkempt. But what could one expect?

Jan E. Matzelinger invented the shoe lacing machine, Walter Sammons invented the comb, Sarah  Boone invented the ironing Board and George T. Samon invented the clothes dryer.

Finally, they were resigned to at least have dinner amidst all of this turmoil. But here again, the food had spoiled because another man of color, John Standard invented the refrigerator.

Now, isn't that something? What would this country be like without the contributions of Negros (colored people), as African-Americans? Sarah Breedlove known as Madam C. J. Walker, was an American entrepreneur and philanthropist, regarded as the first female self made millionaire in America. She made her fortune by developing and marketing a successful line of beauty and hair products for women of African descent under the company she founded, Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "by the time we leave for work, Americans have depended on the inventions from the minds of Blacks." African American history includes more than just slavery - Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey & W.E.B. Dubois, and President Barack H. Obama, first person of African descent and Ahl i Bayt (descendant of the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad - peace and blessing be upon him) to be president of United States of America.   

October 16, 2013

 

Most of the Africans forced to come to America were of noble ancestry.  They came from kings and queens. Many were Muslims - noted scholars having full knowledge of Holy Quran (Hafiz) and the Sunnah (ways and sayings of the Holy Last Messenger) peace and blessings be upon him.  They upheld the five pillars of Islam in a hostile environment.  *A large proportion  of the Muslims arrived in the New World already literate, reading and writing Arabic and their own languages transcribed in the Arabic alphabet.  As other Africans came from exclusively  oral cultures, and as learning to read and write was either illegal or actively discouraged for all slaves in the Americas, literacy became one of the most distinguishing marks of the Muslims.* Contemplating these facts and those to come after,  is it any wonder, that these realities give credence to the saying “America is our country, Islam is our way of life, and freedom is our right?”

The following list are inventions by people of African descent and the possible scenario without them.

There are very few crops that have would have flourished, because the nation was built on a slave-supported system.

There would be no cities with tall skyscrapers because Alexander Miles, a man of African descent, patented an electric elevator, and without his knowledge, one finds great difficulty reaching higher floors.

There are few if any cars because Richard Spikes, a man of African descent, invented the automatic gearshift and in 1932 licensed the patent for $100,000 and he also has a long list of very notable inventions worth mentioning. Joseph Gambol, also of brown color, invented the supercharger system for internal combustion engines and Garrett A. Morgan invented  traffic signals.

Furthermore, one could not use the rapid transit system because its procurer was the electric trolley, which was invented by another man , Albert R. Robinson, yes - of African descent.

Even if there were streets on which cars and a rapid transit system could operate, they would be cluttered with paper because an African American, Charles Brooks, invented the street sweeper.

There were few if any newspapers, magazines and books because John Love invented the pencil sharpener, William Purveys invented the fountain pen, and Lee Barrage invented the typewriting machine and W. A. Love invented the advanced printing press. They were all - you guessed it - of African descent.

Even if Americans could write their letters, articles and books, they would not have been transported by mail because William Barry invented the postmarking and canceling machine, William Purveys invented the handstamp and Philip Downing invented the letter drop.

The lawns were brown and wilted because Joseph Smith invented the Lawn Sprinkler and John Burr the lawn mower.

When they entered their homes, they found them to be poorly ventilated and poorly heated. You see, Frederick Jones invented the air conditioner and Alice Parker the heating furnace.

 

Their homes were also dim. But of course, Lewis Lattimer later invented the electric Lamp, Michael Harvey invented the lantern and Granville T. Woods invented the automatic cut off switch.

Their homes were also filthy because Thomas W. Steward invented the household mop and Lloyd P. Ray the dust pan.

Their children met them at the door-barefooted, shabby, motley and unkempt. But what could one expect?

Jan E. Matzelinger invented the shoe lacing machine, Walter Sammons invented the comb, Sarah  Boone invented the ironing Board and George T. Samon invented the clothes dryer.

Finally, they were resigned to at least have dinner amidst all of this turmoil. But here again, the food had spoiled because another man of color, John Standard invented the refrigerator.

Now, isn't that something? What would this country be like without the contributions of Negros (colored people), as African-Americans? Sarah Breedlove known as Madam C. J. Walker, was an American entrepreneur and philanthropist, regarded as the first female self made millionaire in America. She made her fortune by developing and marketing a successful line of beauty and hair products for women of African descent under the company she founded, Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "by the time we leave for work, Americans have depended on the inventions from the minds of Blacks." African American history includes more than just slavery - Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey & W.E.B. Dubois, and President Barack H. Obama, first person of African descent and Ahl i Bayt (descendant of the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad - peace and blessing be upon him) to be president of United States of America.   

October 8, 2013

The most obvious and well-reported casualties of the last decade in program-slashing educational policy include traditional elective courses like art, music, and physical education. But these are not the only subjects being squeezed out or eliminated entirely from many public K-12 curriculums.

Social studies--a category that includes courses in history, geography, and civics--has also found itself on the chopping block. Whereas in the 1993-1994 school year students spent 9.5 percent of their time in social studies, by 2003-2004 that percentage had dropped to 7.6, despite an increase of total instructional time.

Why has a traditionally “core subject”, which was ranked in the same academic hierarchy as English, science, and math for decades, been sidelined in thousands of American classrooms?

The shift in curriculum began in the early years of the Cold War. While U.S. military and technological innovation brought World War II to a close, it was a later use of technology--the Soviet launching of Sputnik in 1957--that historian Thomas A. Bailey called the equivalent of a “psychological Pearl Harbor” for many Americans. It created deep feelings of inadequacy and a belief that the U.S. was falling behind in developing new technology and weapons, which led to the passage of the 1958 National Defense Education Act. This legislation pumped $1 billion over four years into math and science programs in both K-12 schools and universities.

Despite this extra focus on math and science, social studies managed to make it through the end of the Cold War relatively unscathed, in fact, the number of classroom hours dedicated to teaching social studies in grades 1-4 peaked in the 1993-1994 school year at 3 hours a week. But drastic change came a decade later with the passage of President George W. Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ legislation.

No Child Left Behind was signed into law in an attempt to address the growing achievement gap between affluent and low-income students. It was a controversial piece of legislation from the start, mainly because of its “one size fits all’” approach: It uses annual standardized tests to determine how well students are performing in reading and math and then uses those scores to determine the amounts of federal funding schools receive.

Besides the obvious criticism that low-performing schools--arguably the ones that need the most increase in funding--are disproportionately punished for their low scores, critics also believe that No Child Left Behind has narrowed the curriculum. Since the standardized tests focus exclusively on English and math, and those scores determine the bulk of a school’s federal funding, schools have been forced to increase time and resources in these subjects at the expense of all others, including social studies.

A 2007 study from the Center of Education Policy supports this allegation: 62 percent of elementary schools, and more than 20 percent of middle schools, increased time for English language arts and/or math since No Child Left Behind passed.  At the same time, 36 percent of schools decreased the time allocated to the social studies. According to a study from the National Center for Education Statistics, this adds up to a net loss of four weeks of social studies instruction per academic year.

This devaluation of social studies as a core subject in the K-12 curriculum has troubling economic, political, and social implications. For one, social studies at all grade levels encourages students to develop skills in critical thinking--one of the top traits employers look for in a candidate. It also requires students become strong written and oral communicators who know how to structure and articulate their opinions. Unfortunately, a survey of employers done by the Chronicle of Higher Education found that these are the exact skills today’s entry-level workers are lacking. Without the skills gained from social studies, students are less attractive to employers.

Perhaps even more troubling, however, is that reducing students’ exposure to a solid curriculum in social studies leads to what a growing number of experts are calling a “civic achievement gap”. Closely related to the general achievement gap between affluent, mostly white students and low-income minority students, the civic achievement gap has made it increasingly difficult for those who grow up in low-income households to participate in civic affairs. According to data from Associate Professor Meira Levinson of Harvard University, people living in families with incomes under $15,000 voted at just over half the rate of those living in families with incomes over $75,000.

Many experts agree that a stronger curriculum in social studies could help close this gap.  A study from the Carnegie Corporation of New York found that students who receive effective education in social studies are more likely to vote, four times more likely to volunteer and work on community issues, and are generally more confident in their ability to communicate ideas with their elected representatives.

Fortunately, policymakers have begun to acknowledge the shortcomings of the recent decade of educational policy. “President Obama and I reject the notion that the social studies is a peripheral offering that can be cut from schools to meet [Adequate Yearly Progress] or to satisfy those wanting to save money during a fiscal crunch,” wrote U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in 2011 in Social Education, a journal published by the National Council for Social Studies. “Today more than ever, the social studies are not a luxury, but a necessity. We need to fix [No Child Left Behind] so that school leaders do not feel forced to ignore the vital components of a good education.”

While the Obama Administration has pledged to revisit certain components of No Child Left Behind, it has kept its fundamental model of high-stakes standardized testing with new programs such as Race to the Top and the Common Core State Standard Initiative. Like No Child Left Behind, both of these programs focus primarily on English and math.

It’s clear that something has to change when only one-third of Americans can name all three branches of government.

October 8, 2013

The most obvious and well-reported casualties of the last decade in program-slashing educational policy include traditional elective courses like art, music, and physical education. But these are not the only subjects being squeezed out or eliminated entirely from many public K-12 curriculums.

Social studies--a category that includes courses in history, geography, and civics--has also found itself on the chopping block. Whereas in the 1993-1994 school year students spent 9.5 percent of their time in social studies, by 2003-2004 that percentage had dropped to 7.6, despite an increase of total instructional time.

Why has a traditionally “core subject”, which was ranked in the same academic hierarchy as English, science, and math for decades, been sidelined in thousands of American classrooms?

The shift in curriculum began in the early years of the Cold War. While U.S. military and technological innovation brought World War II to a close, it was a later use of technology--the Soviet launching of Sputnik in 1957--that historian Thomas A. Bailey called the equivalent of a “psychological Pearl Harbor” for many Americans. It created deep feelings of inadequacy and a belief that the U.S. was falling behind in developing new technology and weapons, which led to the passage of the 1958 National Defense Education Act. This legislation pumped $1 billion over four years into math and science programs in both K-12 schools and universities.

Despite this extra focus on math and science, social studies managed to make it through the end of the Cold War relatively unscathed, in fact, the number of classroom hours dedicated to teaching social studies in grades 1-4 peaked in the 1993-1994 school year at 3 hours a week. But drastic change came a decade later with the passage of President George W. Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ legislation.

No Child Left Behind was signed into law in an attempt to address the growing achievement gap between affluent and low-income students. It was a controversial piece of legislation from the start, mainly because of its “one size fits all’” approach: It uses annual standardized tests to determine how well students are performing in reading and math and then uses those scores to determine the amounts of federal funding schools receive.

Besides the obvious criticism that low-performing schools--arguably the ones that need the most increase in funding--are disproportionately punished for their low scores, critics also believe that No Child Left Behind has narrowed the curriculum. Since the standardized tests focus exclusively on English and math, and those scores determine the bulk of a school’s federal funding, schools have been forced to increase time and resources in these subjects at the expense of all others, including social studies.

A 2007 study from the Center of Education Policy supports this allegation: 62 percent of elementary schools, and more than 20 percent of middle schools, increased time for English language arts and/or math since No Child Left Behind passed.  At the same time, 36 percent of schools decreased the time allocated to the social studies. According to a study from the National Center for Education Statistics, this adds up to a net loss of four weeks of social studies instruction per academic year.

This devaluation of social studies as a core subject in the K-12 curriculum has troubling economic, political, and social implications. For one, social studies at all grade levels encourages students to develop skills in critical thinking--one of the top traits employers look for in a candidate. It also requires students become strong written and oral communicators who know how to structure and articulate their opinions. Unfortunately, a survey of employers done by the Chronicle of Higher Education found that these are the exact skills today’s entry-level workers are lacking. Without the skills gained from social studies, students are less attractive to employers.

Perhaps even more troubling, however, is that reducing students’ exposure to a solid curriculum in social studies leads to what a growing number of experts are calling a “civic achievement gap”. Closely related to the general achievement gap between affluent, mostly white students and low-income minority students, the civic achievement gap has made it increasingly difficult for those who grow up in low-income households to participate in civic affairs. According to data from Associate Professor Meira Levinson of Harvard University, people living in families with incomes under $15,000 voted at just over half the rate of those living in families with incomes over $75,000.

Many experts agree that a stronger curriculum in social studies could help close this gap.  A study from the Carnegie Corporation of New York found that students who receive effective education in social studies are more likely to vote, four times more likely to volunteer and work on community issues, and are generally more confident in their ability to communicate ideas with their elected representatives.

Fortunately, policymakers have begun to acknowledge the shortcomings of the recent decade of educational policy. “President Obama and I reject the notion that the social studies is a peripheral offering that can be cut from schools to meet [Adequate Yearly Progress] or to satisfy those wanting to save money during a fiscal crunch,” wrote U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in 2011 in Social Education, a journal published by the National Council for Social Studies. “Today more than ever, the social studies are not a luxury, but a necessity. We need to fix [No Child Left Behind] so that school leaders do not feel forced to ignore the vital components of a good education.”

While the Obama Administration has pledged to revisit certain components of No Child Left Behind, it has kept its fundamental model of high-stakes standardized testing with new programs such as Race to the Top and the Common Core State Standard Initiative. Like No Child Left Behind, both of these programs focus primarily on English and math.

It’s clear that something has to change when only one-third of Americans can name all three branches of government.

October 8, 2013

As the federal government shutdown emerges and the American workforce slowly comes to a halt, the question needs to be asked, “is America becoming Rome?”

The Roman Empire, a prodigious civilization, fell due to many reasons, decay of morals being number one. Corruption of politicians, the wealthy hoarding the wealth and political in-fighting were some of the major causes of its decline.

The government was constantly threatened by bankruptcy due to the cost of ‘defending’ the Empire and failing economics. Heavy taxation and high inflation along with debasing the Roman gold coinage, that followed a particularly long period of financial crisis, inaugurating the slow collapse of the economy, can be compared to America.  Much of the gold that was being spent by the Romans went to pay for luxury items and was kept among the affluent. This meant that there was less gold coins in use. As the amount of gold used in coins decreased, the coin became less valuable. To make up for the loss in value, merchants raised the prices on the goods they sold. Many people stopped using coins. The American economy is inundated with the use of credit/debit cards, the use of legal tender is declining.

The Empire saw many examples of antagonism between the Senators and the Emperors. Either the Senators didn't like the Emperor or the Emperor was at odds with the Senators. The current situation is the result of antagonism among Senators, Congressmen and the President.

Constant wars and heavy military spending was a contributing factor. The Roman army became over-stretched and needed more and more soldiers.

The use of cheap slave labor drove the unemployment of the working classes, the ordinary citizens of Rome became dependent on hand-outs from the state. The similarity is the rise in outsourcing American jobs to other countries along with hiring foreign workers that work for less compensation.

There were also natural disasters such as plagues, famines and earthquakes.

Much of the architecture of US government buildings and practices such as swearing of oaths before taking office reflect Roman culture. The American icon, the eagle, was the symbol of the Roman state. His Eminence Sheikh Gillani teaches, when you emulate a people you become like those people.

October 8, 2013

As the federal government shutdown emerges and the American workforce slowly comes to a halt, the question needs to be asked, “is America becoming Rome?”

The Roman Empire, a prodigious civilization, fell due to many reasons, decay of morals being number one. Corruption of politicians, the wealthy hoarding the wealth and political in-fighting were some of the major causes of its decline.

The government was constantly threatened by bankruptcy due to the cost of ‘defending’ the Empire and failing economics. Heavy taxation and high inflation along with debasing the Roman gold coinage, that followed a particularly long period of financial crisis, inaugurating the slow collapse of the economy, can be compared to America.  Much of the gold that was being spent by the Romans went to pay for luxury items and was kept among the affluent. This meant that there was less gold coins in use. As the amount of gold used in coins decreased, the coin became less valuable. To make up for the loss in value, merchants raised the prices on the goods they sold. Many people stopped using coins. The American economy is inundated with the use of credit/debit cards, the use of legal tender is declining.

The Empire saw many examples of antagonism between the Senators and the Emperors. Either the Senators didn't like the Emperor or the Emperor was at odds with the Senators. The current situation is the result of antagonism among Senators, Congressmen and the President.

Constant wars and heavy military spending was a contributing factor. The Roman army became over-stretched and needed more and more soldiers.

The use of cheap slave labor drove the unemployment of the working classes, the ordinary citizens of Rome became dependent on hand-outs from the state. The similarity is the rise in outsourcing American jobs to other countries along with hiring foreign workers that work for less compensation.

There were also natural disasters such as plagues, famines and earthquakes.

Much of the architecture of US government buildings and practices such as swearing of oaths before taking office reflect Roman culture. The American icon, the eagle, was the symbol of the Roman state. His Eminence Sheikh Gillani teaches, when you emulate a people you become like those people.

October 6, 2013

The US government shutdown, the first in 18 years , the result of the failure of Congress to reach agreement on the Federal budget that funds all government services, functions, departments and branches (including the military) and funding of innumerable programs is gradually engaging. It means that national parks will close, most routine food inspections will be suspended, paperwork will slow at government offices and many federal employees will be furloughed.

Only emergency and essential items would be able to operate, as a result of which lakhs of government employees would not receive their salary for the duration of the government shutdown.

Senator Ben Cardin alleged that the Republicans have manufactured a crisis that will cost taxpayers even more money while inconveniencing, if not harming, individuals, families and businesses across the country.

The partial shutdown of the federal government has seen more than 800,000 federal workers  furloughed, and numerous governmental programs have been forced to stop running. For example, the government shutdown has already caused as many as 19,000 children to lose access to Head Start. Many recipients of Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, more commonly known as WIC, will lose assistance as reported by Democracy Now.  The host Amy Goodman revealed that “the federal government shutdown began on Tuesday, October 1st, the same day a key facet of President Obama’s healthcare law went live nationwide. For the first time, Americans were able to begin purchasing health insurance from federal and state exchanges. Nearly three million people visited the federal website healthcare.gov, while New York’s state site claimed it had more than 10 million hits.”

“Meanwhile, The New York Times reported the new healthcare law will leave out two-thirds of the nation’s poor blacks and single mothers and more than half of the nation’s low-wage workers who don’t have insurance because they they live in states largely controlled by Republicans who have declined to participate in a vast expansion of Medicaid.”

President Obama met with Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress to try to end the deadlock, but there was no breakthrough.

Republicans, led by the tea party wing, have tried to tie continued government funding to measures that would undercut the Affordable Care Act. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid accused Republicans of trying to hold the president hostage over "Obamacare."

The more extreme elements in the Republican party on Capitol Hill are dead adamant regarding the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and have resorted to a political checkmate.

The ramifications of the stoppage of government funds on businesses in the US and abroad remains to be seen, with the president suggesting a meeting with business leaders soon.  Democracy Now guest Imara Jones, an economist who worked for the Clinton White House added a grave but real scenario: “One of the other interesting parts of the story is that the federal government is the largest employer in the United States. And regardless of whether or not one is furloughed or at work, you’re not receiving a paycheck. That means that two million families are not receiving pay. Because of unionization and anti-discriminatory laws, people of color are overrepresented in government jobs. That’s true for the federal government. There are more people of color in the federal workforce as a whole than the broader workforce. And so, what this means is that the employment crisis in communities of color, the economic crisis in communities of color, is accentuated and exacerbated and extended by this shutdown.

October 6, 2013

The US government shutdown, the first in 18 years , the result of the failure of Congress to reach agreement on the Federal budget that funds all government services, functions, departments and branches (including the military) and funding of innumerable programs is gradually engaging. It means that national parks will close, most routine food inspections will be suspended, paperwork will slow at government offices and many federal employees will be furloughed.

Only emergency and essential items would be able to operate, as a result of which lakhs of government employees would not receive their salary for the duration of the government shutdown.

Senator Ben Cardin alleged that the Republicans have manufactured a crisis that will cost taxpayers even more money while inconveniencing, if not harming, individuals, families and businesses across the country.

The partial shutdown of the federal government has seen more than 800,000 federal workers  furloughed, and numerous governmental programs have been forced to stop running. For example, the government shutdown has already caused as many as 19,000 children to lose access to Head Start. Many recipients of Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, more commonly known as WIC, will lose assistance as reported by Democracy Now.  The host Amy Goodman revealed that “the federal government shutdown began on Tuesday, October 1st, the same day a key facet of President Obama’s healthcare law went live nationwide. For the first time, Americans were able to begin purchasing health insurance from federal and state exchanges. Nearly three million people visited the federal website healthcare.gov, while New York’s state site claimed it had more than 10 million hits.”

“Meanwhile, The New York Times reported the new healthcare law will leave out two-thirds of the nation’s poor blacks and single mothers and more than half of the nation’s low-wage workers who don’t have insurance because they they live in states largely controlled by Republicans who have declined to participate in a vast expansion of Medicaid.”

President Obama met with Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress to try to end the deadlock, but there was no breakthrough.

Republicans, led by the tea party wing, have tried to tie continued government funding to measures that would undercut the Affordable Care Act. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid accused Republicans of trying to hold the president hostage over "Obamacare."

The more extreme elements in the Republican party on Capitol Hill are dead adamant regarding the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and have resorted to a political checkmate.

The ramifications of the stoppage of government funds on businesses in the US and abroad remains to be seen, with the president suggesting a meeting with business leaders soon.  Democracy Now guest Imara Jones, an economist who worked for the Clinton White House added a grave but real scenario: “One of the other interesting parts of the story is that the federal government is the largest employer in the United States. And regardless of whether or not one is furloughed or at work, you’re not receiving a paycheck. That means that two million families are not receiving pay. Because of unionization and anti-discriminatory laws, people of color are overrepresented in government jobs. That’s true for the federal government. There are more people of color in the federal workforce as a whole than the broader workforce. And so, what this means is that the employment crisis in communities of color, the economic crisis in communities of color, is accentuated and exacerbated and extended by this shutdown.

October 4, 2013

The commander of one of El Salvador's notorious death squads, active during the 1979-92 civil war, could soon become the first top-ranking Salvadoran officer to face trial for murder. But if so, he will be tried in Spain, not his own country, where amnesty protects even those guilty of atrocities against civilians.

Inocente Orlando Montano was quietly working in a sweet factory in Massachusetts in May 2011, when he and 19 others were indicted by a Spanish court for their alleged role in the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests, along with their housekeeper and her teenage daughter.

Five of the priests - outspoken critics of El Salvador's military regime - were Spanish. Spain asked for Montano to be extradited - and soon afterwards he was indicted by the US for having lied about his entry date and military past to obtain papers giving him the right to work in the US.

He pleaded guilty in September last year to six counts of immigration fraud and perjury and will soon be sentenced.

As vice-minister of public security, Colonel Montano had been one of El Salvador's top three military leaders. He was also commander of the feared Belloso Battalion.

In an expert report prepared for Montano's prosecution, political science professor Terry Karl argues that at least 1,169 human rights abuses - including 65 extra-judicial killings of named individuals, 51 reported disappearances and 520 torture victims - were carried out by units under Montano's command.

"The Jesuit massacre was not an aberration," she writes.

"Throughout Col Montano's 30-year military career, he ordered, abetted and assisted, and/or commanded troops that participated in a strategy of disappearance and arbitrary detention, rural massacres of civilian non-combatants, the forced disappearance of children, and the toleration of military-led death squads operating inside units under his command."

The US federal judge has indicated that Montano's sentence will reflect the gravity of his alleged human rights record - detailed in Karl's report and in testimonies from priests and civilian survivors of torture.

The San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), which helped trigger the indictment by filing a criminal complaint in Spain four years ago, expects the extradition process to begin while Montano is in US custody.

Up to now, no top-ranking Salvadoran commander has faced criminal prosecution for any civil war offence.

Two others who "retired" to Florida - Generals Jose Guillermo Garcia and Carlos Vides Casanova - have been fighting deportation proceedings brought under a post-9/11 law intended to stop human rights violators residing in the country.

Both have also been sued in the civil courts. In 2002, a West Palm Beach jury found them guilty of torturing three civilians and awarded $55m, $300,000 of which has so far been paid.

But the immigration proceedings against Montano have already arguably done more to raise hopes among civilian victims that justice may one day be done, by legally dissecting several atrocities for the first time.

One is the El Calabozo massacre, in which 200 to 300 campesinos, or peasant farmers, were killed on 22 August 1982 by the Belloso Battalion under Montano's command, and the equally feared Atlactl Battalion.

El Calabozo was a scorched-earth operation carried out by the US-trained mobile death squads against alleged guerrilla supporters. The soldiers killed unarmed civilians, kidnapped children for illegal adoptions, bombed homes and destroyed crops.

The Salvadoran government has never officially recognized that the massacre took place.

Chunguita Realegeno, 58, who lost her whole family except one son in the massacre, says: "I hid with my baby for three days without food or water because we couldn't keep walking; I never saw my family again, I only found their bones. I suffer every day and night knowing those who killed my people are still free."

Prof Karl testified in court on August 22nd - the 31st anniversary of the massacre - as did General Mauricio Vargas, who Montano has called as an expert to challenge the allegations.

"A case like Montano's immigration prosecution provides a glimmer of hope that some truth and accountability will emerge from decades of lies, denial and impunity.," says Esther Major, Amnesty International's El Salvador researcher. "Evidence is being reviewed, massacres recognized as having happened, victims and survivors' words matter."

At one point, it seemed that El Salvador itself might repeal the amnesty law for former combatants, passed in 1993 in defiance of the terms of the peace agreement signed the previous year.

In 2000, the former rebels FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front) won a legislative majority against the military-allied Arena party - the sort of political change which preceded the collapse of amnesties in Chile, Argentina, Guatemala and Honduras.

The successful prosecutions around this time of Gen Augusto Pinochet in Chile and Col Byron Disrael Lima Estada in Guatemala - both of which had once seemed impossible - caused reverberations in El Salvador.

Montano entered the US in 2001, just when it seemed the Jesuits massacre would be reinvestigated. But it was only in 2009 that an FMLN candidate, Mauricio Funes, became president, and he has not made repealing the amnesty law a legislative priority.

Not surprisingly, Montano has volunteered to return to El Salvador after serving his sentence in the US. The country's Supreme Court has already rejected Spain's request for the extradition of 17 of Montano's co-accused in the Jesuit massacre case, including former president Alfredo Cristiani.

Of the remaining two accused, one is dead and the whereabouts of Lt Hector Cuenta Ocampo, who occupied a prominent position in the National Intelligence Service, is unknown. His last known address was in San Francisco.

October 4, 2013

The commander of one of El Salvador's notorious death squads, active during the 1979-92 civil war, could soon become the first top-ranking Salvadoran officer to face trial for murder. But if so, he will be tried in Spain, not his own country, where amnesty protects even those guilty of atrocities against civilians.

Inocente Orlando Montano was quietly working in a sweet factory in Massachusetts in May 2011, when he and 19 others were indicted by a Spanish court for their alleged role in the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests, along with their housekeeper and her teenage daughter.

Five of the priests - outspoken critics of El Salvador's military regime - were Spanish. Spain asked for Montano to be extradited - and soon afterwards he was indicted by the US for having lied about his entry date and military past to obtain papers giving him the right to work in the US.

He pleaded guilty in September last year to six counts of immigration fraud and perjury and will soon be sentenced.

As vice-minister of public security, Colonel Montano had been one of El Salvador's top three military leaders. He was also commander of the feared Belloso Battalion.

In an expert report prepared for Montano's prosecution, political science professor Terry Karl argues that at least 1,169 human rights abuses - including 65 extra-judicial killings of named individuals, 51 reported disappearances and 520 torture victims - were carried out by units under Montano's command.

"The Jesuit massacre was not an aberration," she writes.

"Throughout Col Montano's 30-year military career, he ordered, abetted and assisted, and/or commanded troops that participated in a strategy of disappearance and arbitrary detention, rural massacres of civilian non-combatants, the forced disappearance of children, and the toleration of military-led death squads operating inside units under his command."

The US federal judge has indicated that Montano's sentence will reflect the gravity of his alleged human rights record - detailed in Karl's report and in testimonies from priests and civilian survivors of torture.

The San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), which helped trigger the indictment by filing a criminal complaint in Spain four years ago, expects the extradition process to begin while Montano is in US custody.

Up to now, no top-ranking Salvadoran commander has faced criminal prosecution for any civil war offence.

Two others who "retired" to Florida - Generals Jose Guillermo Garcia and Carlos Vides Casanova - have been fighting deportation proceedings brought under a post-9/11 law intended to stop human rights violators residing in the country.

Both have also been sued in the civil courts. In 2002, a West Palm Beach jury found them guilty of torturing three civilians and awarded $55m, $300,000 of which has so far been paid.

But the immigration proceedings against Montano have already arguably done more to raise hopes among civilian victims that justice may one day be done, by legally dissecting several atrocities for the first time.

One is the El Calabozo massacre, in which 200 to 300 campesinos, or peasant farmers, were killed on 22 August 1982 by the Belloso Battalion under Montano's command, and the equally feared Atlactl Battalion.

El Calabozo was a scorched-earth operation carried out by the US-trained mobile death squads against alleged guerrilla supporters. The soldiers killed unarmed civilians, kidnapped children for illegal adoptions, bombed homes and destroyed crops.

The Salvadoran government has never officially recognized that the massacre took place.

Chunguita Realegeno, 58, who lost her whole family except one son in the massacre, says: "I hid with my baby for three days without food or water because we couldn't keep walking; I never saw my family again, I only found their bones. I suffer every day and night knowing those who killed my people are still free."

Prof Karl testified in court on August 22nd - the 31st anniversary of the massacre - as did General Mauricio Vargas, who Montano has called as an expert to challenge the allegations.

"A case like Montano's immigration prosecution provides a glimmer of hope that some truth and accountability will emerge from decades of lies, denial and impunity.," says Esther Major, Amnesty International's El Salvador researcher. "Evidence is being reviewed, massacres recognized as having happened, victims and survivors' words matter."

At one point, it seemed that El Salvador itself might repeal the amnesty law for former combatants, passed in 1993 in defiance of the terms of the peace agreement signed the previous year.

In 2000, the former rebels FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front) won a legislative majority against the military-allied Arena party - the sort of political change which preceded the collapse of amnesties in Chile, Argentina, Guatemala and Honduras.

The successful prosecutions around this time of Gen Augusto Pinochet in Chile and Col Byron Disrael Lima Estada in Guatemala - both of which had once seemed impossible - caused reverberations in El Salvador.

Montano entered the US in 2001, just when it seemed the Jesuits massacre would be reinvestigated. But it was only in 2009 that an FMLN candidate, Mauricio Funes, became president, and he has not made repealing the amnesty law a legislative priority.

Not surprisingly, Montano has volunteered to return to El Salvador after serving his sentence in the US. The country's Supreme Court has already rejected Spain's request for the extradition of 17 of Montano's co-accused in the Jesuit massacre case, including former president Alfredo Cristiani.

Of the remaining two accused, one is dead and the whereabouts of Lt Hector Cuenta Ocampo, who occupied a prominent position in the National Intelligence Service, is unknown. His last known address was in San Francisco.

September 27, 2013

Cairo - Egypt’s latest crackdown on Morsi supporters and sympathizers now affects the country’s mosques. Fifty-five thousand “unlicensed” imams will be prohibited from giving sermons in mosques and small mosques are being closed. “Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Goma said the ministry would limit prayers to mosques controlled by the ministry, allow only Al-Azhar-qualified imams to preach in mosques, shut down small mosques that are often led by independent imams, and ban donations from inside mosques that "go to those who do not fear God,” Al Ahram reported.

“The ban will mainly target small unlicensed mosques or random praying areas. The idea is to spread a moderate message of Islam and keep Egyptians away from radical ideas,” Egypt Independent Newspaper reported. This decision has caused a stir amongst the Nour Party—Egypt’s largest Salafi party. “Sherif Taha, spokesperson for the Nour Party, criticised the move, claiming mosques were already crowded during Friday prayers and it would become worse if small, neighbourhood mosques were closed,” according to Al Ahram.

Morsi’s largest supporters, the Muslim Brotherhood, are suffering another setback in it’s mission to restore democracy to Egypt. “Egypt's army-backed government has decided to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood as a registered non-governmental organization, a state-run newspaper reported, pressing a crackdown on deposed President Mohamed Morsi's movement,” Egypt Independent Newspaper reported. The Egyptian interim government discussed disbanding the Brotherhood in recent months; however, the decision comes after a bomb exploded injuring more than 20 people on a major thoroughfare in Cairo. Authorities say it was an assassination attempt on Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim. The Brotherhood denies involvement and condemned the attack. "We reject any attempt to assassinate any leader or politician, and our ideology stands against violence and murder," Brotherhood leader Mamdouh al-Husseiny told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

“A Suez military court has given 11 alleged Muslim Brotherhood supporters life sentences relating to charges of violence following the dispersal of pro-Mohamed Morsy sit-ins in Cairo and Giza recently,” according to Egypt Independent Newspaper.  The crackdown began with a wave of mass arrests of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members for a variety of charges—the most commonly cited charge is incitement of violence. Egyptian security forces continue carrying out arrests of the group’s leaders and members. “Egyptian police are making "extensive efforts" to overcome “extremist hotbeds," Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said,” Al Ahram reported.

Prior to his recent arrest for charges including incitement of violence at the Republican Guard Headquarters, organizing a terrorist gang and murder, Mohamed El-Beltagy—who was hiding from authorities at the time—said in a video aired on al-Jazeera station, “Egyptian authorities have no shred of evidence the group engaged in any terrorist acts, as alleged by the Egyptian government,” Al Ahram reported.

 

El-Beltagy exposed contradictions in Army Chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s actions toward the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi promoted el-Sisi to defense minister, yet it begs the question, how could he accept working in a parliament alongside ministers who were members of the Muslim Brotherhood—an alleged terrorist group? "Why hadn't he noticed anything related to the terrorism of the Brotherhood all these years?" El-Beltagy asked in the video. "How was he head of military intelligence and yet allowed a member of a terrorist group to be nominated for president," reported Al Ahram.

The constant barrage of media propaganda against the Muslim Brotherhood has incited people to form lynch mobs or become neighborhood vigilantes; therefore, people are always on guard. “The ouster of Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, has set off something of a witch hunt against those perceived as being his supporters. The campaign has been fed by domestic media, which has broadcast around-the-clock images of bearded gunmen allegedly firing at security forces during demonstrations.” according to Egypt Independent Newspaper.

Clinging to their demands in recent demonstrations and rallies—though in smaller numbers—Morsi supporters continue calling for the return of democracy and protesting against the military. With such continued public defiance, it remains to be seen what further measures will be taken against the government-dissolved Muslim Brotherhood and other pro-Morsi groups and how such actions affect the rest of Egypt.

 

September 27, 2013

Cairo - Egypt’s latest crackdown on Morsi supporters and sympathizers now affects the country’s mosques. Fifty-five thousand “unlicensed” imams will be prohibited from giving sermons in mosques and small mosques are being closed. “Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Goma said the ministry would limit prayers to mosques controlled by the ministry, allow only Al-Azhar-qualified imams to preach in mosques, shut down small mosques that are often led by independent imams, and ban donations from inside mosques that "go to those who do not fear God,” Al Ahram reported.

“The ban will mainly target small unlicensed mosques or random praying areas. The idea is to spread a moderate message of Islam and keep Egyptians away from radical ideas,” Egypt Independent Newspaper reported. This decision has caused a stir amongst the Nour Party—Egypt’s largest Salafi party. “Sherif Taha, spokesperson for the Nour Party, criticised the move, claiming mosques were already crowded during Friday prayers and it would become worse if small, neighbourhood mosques were closed,” according to Al Ahram.

Morsi’s largest supporters, the Muslim Brotherhood, are suffering another setback in it’s mission to restore democracy to Egypt. “Egypt's army-backed government has decided to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood as a registered non-governmental organization, a state-run newspaper reported, pressing a crackdown on deposed President Mohamed Morsi's movement,” Egypt Independent Newspaper reported. The Egyptian interim government discussed disbanding the Brotherhood in recent months; however, the decision comes after a bomb exploded injuring more than 20 people on a major thoroughfare in Cairo. Authorities say it was an assassination attempt on Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim. The Brotherhood denies involvement and condemned the attack. "We reject any attempt to assassinate any leader or politician, and our ideology stands against violence and murder," Brotherhood leader Mamdouh al-Husseiny told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

“A Suez military court has given 11 alleged Muslim Brotherhood supporters life sentences relating to charges of violence following the dispersal of pro-Mohamed Morsy sit-ins in Cairo and Giza recently,” according to Egypt Independent Newspaper.  The crackdown began with a wave of mass arrests of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members for a variety of charges—the most commonly cited charge is incitement of violence. Egyptian security forces continue carrying out arrests of the group’s leaders and members. “Egyptian police are making "extensive efforts" to overcome “extremist hotbeds," Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said,” Al Ahram reported.

Prior to his recent arrest for charges including incitement of violence at the Republican Guard Headquarters, organizing a terrorist gang and murder, Mohamed El-Beltagy—who was hiding from authorities at the time—said in a video aired on al-Jazeera station, “Egyptian authorities have no shred of evidence the group engaged in any terrorist acts, as alleged by the Egyptian government,” Al Ahram reported.

 

El-Beltagy exposed contradictions in Army Chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s actions toward the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi promoted el-Sisi to defense minister, yet it begs the question, how could he accept working in a parliament alongside ministers who were members of the Muslim Brotherhood—an alleged terrorist group? "Why hadn't he noticed anything related to the terrorism of the Brotherhood all these years?" El-Beltagy asked in the video. "How was he head of military intelligence and yet allowed a member of a terrorist group to be nominated for president," reported Al Ahram.

The constant barrage of media propaganda against the Muslim Brotherhood has incited people to form lynch mobs or become neighborhood vigilantes; therefore, people are always on guard. “The ouster of Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, has set off something of a witch hunt against those perceived as being his supporters. The campaign has been fed by domestic media, which has broadcast around-the-clock images of bearded gunmen allegedly firing at security forces during demonstrations.” according to Egypt Independent Newspaper.

Clinging to their demands in recent demonstrations and rallies—though in smaller numbers—Morsi supporters continue calling for the return of democracy and protesting against the military. With such continued public defiance, it remains to be seen what further measures will be taken against the government-dissolved Muslim Brotherhood and other pro-Morsi groups and how such actions affect the rest of Egypt.

 

September 27, 2013

BAMAKO - Newly elected president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, pledged to unite his strife-damaged nation  and end endemic corruption as he steps forward to  lead the deeply-divided west African country’s emergence from months of political crisis and conflict.

Keita, a former prime minister, began his five-year term in the presence of outgoing transitional leader Dioncounda Traore and more than 1,000 Malian politicians, diplomats and military personnel, as he took the presidential oath at the inaugural ceremony in Bamako, the Malian capital.

"I will not forget for a moment that you put me where I am to take care of all aspects of the life of our nation. National reconciliation remains the most urgent priority," he said after taking an oath to preserve the constitution, democracy and the law.

Mali's constitutional court confirmed Keita's landslide victory  in the August 11 presidential run-off against former minister Soumaila Cisse after an election campaign focused on law, order and ending the culture of impunity in public office.

"I want to reconcile hearts and minds, restore true brotherhood between us so that all the different people can play their part harmoniously in the national symphony," Keita said to huge applause.

The 68-year-old veteran of the political scene in Bamako is charged with leading the country out of a 17-month political crisis sparked by a military coup.

Army officers angry at the level of support they had received to combat a separatist Tuareg rebellion in the north overthrew the democratically-elected government of President Amadou Toumani Toure in the spring of 2012.

In the chaos that followed, the Tuareg seized control of an area larger than France before being ousted by Al-Qaeda-linked groups who imposed a brutal interpretation of Islamic law on the local population, carrying out amputations and executions.

Their actions drew worldwide condemnation and prompted France to launch a military offensive at Mali's behest together with thrust from the UN’s official international input to oust the Islamists in January.

The country's return to democracy has allowed France to begin withdrawing some of the 4,500 troops it had sent in.  

"France welcomes the new president of the Republic of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, on the occasion of his swearing-in ceremony," said French foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot in a statement.

"Granted a strong legitimacy with the outcome of the recent elections, the new authorities can now meet the needs of the people of Mali and the challenges facing Mali. France is ready to give its full support to President Keita."  Observers cite that French logistical assistance will continue, limiting the troop withdrawal initially planned by French President Hollande.

The son of a civil servant, Keita was born in 1945 in the southern industrial city of Koutiala, the declining heartland of cotton production in the country.

His election in the first presidential polls in Mali since 2007 was seen as crucial for unlocking more than $4 billion in aid promised by international donors who halted contributions in the wake of last year's coup.

His daunting workload over the coming months will include tackling an economy battered by political chaos and war, as well as healing ethnic divisions in the north and managing the return of 500,000 people who fled an Islamist insurgency.

Corruption has tainted government institutions and the military in Mali since it gained independence from France in 1960 and the country remains in the bottom third of Transparency International's ‘Corruption Perceptions Index’.  Some observers contend that the Malian government prior to the coup had been complicit with organized crime in the north, which would explain its complacency with the corruption known to exist there.

"I will put an end to impunity, to the special privileges that are at the heart of the perversion of our judicial and state institutions," Keita vowed.

"As president, I will ensure the proper management of public funds. I will put in place appropriate mechanisms to ensure transparency and efficiency of public spending. No one will get rich illegally off the back of the Malian people."

Some material for this report was obtained

from Agence France Presse

 

 

DAKAR, SENEGAL — Mali's president-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita says he will reconcile, reunite and rebuild the country after 18 months of crisis and conflict. Keita doesn't take office for another two weeks, but his to-do list is already long and Malians are eager for results.

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita takes office September 4th on a tidal wave of popularity.

The one-time prime minister and former president of the National Assembly won the August 11th run-off election with 77 percent of votes.

In his first public declaration as president-elect, Keita said he would be the "president of all Malians."

"I will be the president of national reconciliation.  This reconciliation is necessary to deal with the demands of our people: to rebuild the state and the rule of law, to fix the army and the education system, to fight corruption and to foster economic and social development.  I will be the president to rebuild the nation," said the president-elect.

Keita said recently that it would be a "new era."  Even so, he is inheriting some hefty problems.

A Tuareg rebellion that began in  2012 is still rumbling in the far north.  Mali is now host to a massive U.N. mission to stabilize the north after a nine-month occupation by armed extremist groups who tried to set up their version of an Islamic state.

The leaders of the recent military coup in Mali are still lurking around the foreground in Bamako.  One of the final acts of the interim government was to promote coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo to the rank of general.

Keita won the presidency thanks to a large and complex web of support from Muslim religious leaders, the military and most of his first-round rivals.  His campaign always maintained that Keita was not cutting deals in exchange for votes.

But analysts said it could be difficult to manage all those alliances once in office.  Malians are watching closely to see who Keita names to his cabinet.

Keita said recently his government would be a ‘meritocracy’, not one guided by political or family alliances. "Let me be clear.  There is no question of sharing out the cake.  I have not promised that and it will not happen," he said.

But actions speak louder than words, even the tough talk that Keita is known for. When asked what the country needed, voters often used the French verb "assainir," which means to flush out, to decontaminate, to clean up.  They wanted to see Keita tackle the root causes of the crisis.

At the top of that list were the pervasive corruption and patronage that analysts said undermined development, crippled the army and ultimately handed the north over to criminal and terrorist groups.

Keita has pledged "zero tolerance" for corruption, but analysts say he must prove it, and fast, by doing what previous governments in Mali have not - by investigating and punishing those embezzling public resources.  Something analysts say could be a hard pill to swallow for some of his political allies.

Security is the other key challenge.

Keita will have 60 days to open up what promises to be difficult negotiations with the armed Tuareg separatist group, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and its allies in the far northern region of Kidal that launched an uprising in January of 2012 -  the fourth of its kind since Mali became a country in 1960.  Many say it is up to Keita to make it the last.

Political analyst Issa Ndiaye said, "it will be hard to get Malians to accept a special status for Kidal. The problems are not just in Kidal. We need to find a nationwide solution to implement an enhanced form of decentralization that allows local populations to make decisions about their lives, and in particular about the exploitation of natural resources."

Many Malians blame the MNLA for setting off the chain of events last year that saw the elected government toppled by unruly soldiers in the spring of this year and the north being taken over by Islamist militant groups just weeks later.

The nomadic Tuareg are a minority ethnic group in Mali's sparsely populated north.  Perceived privileges bestowed on ex-rebels under previous peace accords have bred resentment and perceptions of a kind of "positive discrimination" in favor of the Tuareg.

Those negotiations will be just one part of returning security and state authority to the formerly occupied north, where violence has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes and decimated the economy.

September 27, 2013

BAMAKO - Newly elected president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, pledged to unite his strife-damaged nation  and end endemic corruption as he steps forward to  lead the deeply-divided west African country’s emergence from months of political crisis and conflict.

Keita, a former prime minister, began his five-year term in the presence of outgoing transitional leader Dioncounda Traore and more than 1,000 Malian politicians, diplomats and military personnel, as he took the presidential oath at the inaugural ceremony in Bamako, the Malian capital.

"I will not forget for a moment that you put me where I am to take care of all aspects of the life of our nation. National reconciliation remains the most urgent priority," he said after taking an oath to preserve the constitution, democracy and the law.

Mali's constitutional court confirmed Keita's landslide victory  in the August 11 presidential run-off against former minister Soumaila Cisse after an election campaign focused on law, order and ending the culture of impunity in public office.

"I want to reconcile hearts and minds, restore true brotherhood between us so that all the different people can play their part harmoniously in the national symphony," Keita said to huge applause.

The 68-year-old veteran of the political scene in Bamako is charged with leading the country out of a 17-month political crisis sparked by a military coup.

Army officers angry at the level of support they had received to combat a separatist Tuareg rebellion in the north overthrew the democratically-elected government of President Amadou Toumani Toure in the spring of 2012.

In the chaos that followed, the Tuareg seized control of an area larger than France before being ousted by Al-Qaeda-linked groups who imposed a brutal interpretation of Islamic law on the local population, carrying out amputations and executions.

Their actions drew worldwide condemnation and prompted France to launch a military offensive at Mali's behest together with thrust from the UN’s official international input to oust the Islamists in January.

The country's return to democracy has allowed France to begin withdrawing some of the 4,500 troops it had sent in.  

"France welcomes the new president of the Republic of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, on the occasion of his swearing-in ceremony," said French foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot in a statement.

"Granted a strong legitimacy with the outcome of the recent elections, the new authorities can now meet the needs of the people of Mali and the challenges facing Mali. France is ready to give its full support to President Keita."  Observers cite that French logistical assistance will continue, limiting the troop withdrawal initially planned by French President Hollande.

The son of a civil servant, Keita was born in 1945 in the southern industrial city of Koutiala, the declining heartland of cotton production in the country.

His election in the first presidential polls in Mali since 2007 was seen as crucial for unlocking more than $4 billion in aid promised by international donors who halted contributions in the wake of last year's coup.

His daunting workload over the coming months will include tackling an economy battered by political chaos and war, as well as healing ethnic divisions in the north and managing the return of 500,000 people who fled an Islamist insurgency.

Corruption has tainted government institutions and the military in Mali since it gained independence from France in 1960 and the country remains in the bottom third of Transparency International's ‘Corruption Perceptions Index’.  Some observers contend that the Malian government prior to the coup had been complicit with organized crime in the north, which would explain its complacency with the corruption known to exist there.

"I will put an end to impunity, to the special privileges that are at the heart of the perversion of our judicial and state institutions," Keita vowed.

"As president, I will ensure the proper management of public funds. I will put in place appropriate mechanisms to ensure transparency and efficiency of public spending. No one will get rich illegally off the back of the Malian people."

Some material for this report was obtained

from Agence France Presse

 

 

DAKAR, SENEGAL — Mali's president-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita says he will reconcile, reunite and rebuild the country after 18 months of crisis and conflict. Keita doesn't take office for another two weeks, but his to-do list is already long and Malians are eager for results.

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita takes office September 4th on a tidal wave of popularity.

The one-time prime minister and former president of the National Assembly won the August 11th run-off election with 77 percent of votes.

In his first public declaration as president-elect, Keita said he would be the "president of all Malians."

"I will be the president of national reconciliation.  This reconciliation is necessary to deal with the demands of our people: to rebuild the state and the rule of law, to fix the army and the education system, to fight corruption and to foster economic and social development.  I will be the president to rebuild the nation," said the president-elect.

Keita said recently that it would be a "new era."  Even so, he is inheriting some hefty problems.

A Tuareg rebellion that began in  2012 is still rumbling in the far north.  Mali is now host to a massive U.N. mission to stabilize the north after a nine-month occupation by armed extremist groups who tried to set up their version of an Islamic state.

The leaders of the recent military coup in Mali are still lurking around the foreground in Bamako.  One of the final acts of the interim government was to promote coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo to the rank of general.

Keita won the presidency thanks to a large and complex web of support from Muslim religious leaders, the military and most of his first-round rivals.  His campaign always maintained that Keita was not cutting deals in exchange for votes.

But analysts said it could be difficult to manage all those alliances once in office.  Malians are watching closely to see who Keita names to his cabinet.

Keita said recently his government would be a ‘meritocracy’, not one guided by political or family alliances. "Let me be clear.  There is no question of sharing out the cake.  I have not promised that and it will not happen," he said.

But actions speak louder than words, even the tough talk that Keita is known for. When asked what the country needed, voters often used the French verb "assainir," which means to flush out, to decontaminate, to clean up.  They wanted to see Keita tackle the root causes of the crisis.

At the top of that list were the pervasive corruption and patronage that analysts said undermined development, crippled the army and ultimately handed the north over to criminal and terrorist groups.

Keita has pledged "zero tolerance" for corruption, but analysts say he must prove it, and fast, by doing what previous governments in Mali have not - by investigating and punishing those embezzling public resources.  Something analysts say could be a hard pill to swallow for some of his political allies.

Security is the other key challenge.

Keita will have 60 days to open up what promises to be difficult negotiations with the armed Tuareg separatist group, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and its allies in the far northern region of Kidal that launched an uprising in January of 2012 -  the fourth of its kind since Mali became a country in 1960.  Many say it is up to Keita to make it the last.

Political analyst Issa Ndiaye said, "it will be hard to get Malians to accept a special status for Kidal. The problems are not just in Kidal. We need to find a nationwide solution to implement an enhanced form of decentralization that allows local populations to make decisions about their lives, and in particular about the exploitation of natural resources."

Many Malians blame the MNLA for setting off the chain of events last year that saw the elected government toppled by unruly soldiers in the spring of this year and the north being taken over by Islamist militant groups just weeks later.

The nomadic Tuareg are a minority ethnic group in Mali's sparsely populated north.  Perceived privileges bestowed on ex-rebels under previous peace accords have bred resentment and perceptions of a kind of "positive discrimination" in favor of the Tuareg.

Those negotiations will be just one part of returning security and state authority to the formerly occupied north, where violence has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes and decimated the economy.

September 19, 2013

Contact: Matthew Gardner

Phone: (434) 825-2283

Email: public.relations@iqou-moa.org

 

(Washington, DC) Muslims throughout the United States of America condemn the use of chemical warfare on the people of Syria as inhumane, emphasizing that no government should be allowed to use them. For this reason, we appeal to the Secretary General of the United Nations to demonstrate equal concern about the weapons of mass destruction that have been manufactured in the U.S. for the purpose of killing American Muslims. In June 2013, two men, Glen Scott Crawford, a G.E. employee, and his only named accomplice Eric Feight were arrested in Albany, New York after being charged with “conspiracy to provide material support, or resources, intending that they be used in preparation for, or in carrying out… a weapon of mass destruction”, said the criminal complaint. The pair built a “radiation-emitting device that could be placed in the back of a van to covertly emit ionizing radiation…”. The device was designed to target and eliminate Muslims, in America and outside, with an X-ray gun intended to be worse than Hiroshima.

 

We demand the United Nations immediately send inspectors to the U.S. to examine the weapon, as the pair was already successful in testing the remote triggering device. How many weapons have been built? How many additional suspects need apprehending? An FBI affidavit identified as many as eight accomplices who have remained unnamed with no arrests.

 

Over three months ago, USA Today reported that the federal authorities uncovered the builders of the lethal X-ray device were “allegedly planning to build a mobile X-ray weapon to kill Muslims and other "enemies of Israel". Three months after initial arrests, no further action been taken. Will American Muslims suffer the same fate as the people of Syria? Will Muslims be attacked in their own country? American Muslims fully endorse swift action against all forms of weapons of mass destruction and implore the international community to recognize this viable threat to the safety and peace of citizens of the United States of America.

 

The danger is apparently still great for all Muslims living in America under threat of use of this weapon of mass destruction for which the number of weapons manufactured is still unknown. The Muslims of America, Inc. (TMOA) have suffered escalating attacks against their residential properties and residents since the launching of a defamation lawsuit against the extremist group Christian Action Network (CAN) and its president Martin Mawyer related to release of an inflammatory book. Based in Hancock, New York, The Muslims of America have reported to law enforcement the appearance of intruders on several properties across the country including the states of Virginia, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Georgia. In New York, days before the Crawford and Feight arrests, residents identified intruders with heavy Eastern European accents, possibly Russian Jews, who drove onto the property in a van with strange, partially hidden and mounted equipment. In Texas, a man drove past TMOA property for hours, harassed neighbors for information and then trespassed before being stopped by the Muslim residents. The Texas trespasser’s vehicle was registered to a man connected to the Himeni Ministries, a Christian Zionist Church and Act for America!, a known anti-Islam organization. In South Carolina, during a Ladies Summer Program, multiple incidents were reported of suspicious persons posing as salesman descending on the homes of Muslim residents’ homes. In addition, shots fired upon the property prompted a meeting with FBI and local law enforcement to warn about the growing danger as shown in the increased incidents of hate crimes against the TMOA community across the country. In Virginia, thirteen shots rang out in the dark of night endangering innocent men, women and children as the assailants fired into the TMOA sign on the property. Nevertheless, unchecked by law enforcement, dangerous front organizations continue to spread Islamophobic propaganda while publicly posturing as enemies of Islam, but who are in actuality, the real enemies of America. Unfortunately, as good citizens, when these incidents of violence are brought to the attention of the authorities, it is claimed there is no evidence to arrest the perpetrators.

 

We, American Muslims, demand justice and protection. We assert there is no blame on the American government nor the American people for these front organizations who are promoting fear and Islamophobia as a tool in their aim to destroy America by using the American people, American money, and the blood of innocent Americans to fight their wars -proxy wars. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, yet who were among the thousands killed - it was Americans’ citizens, Muslims and Christians alike, who lost their lives in the devastating proxy war in Iraq. Americans, be they Muslim or Christian, all are suffering due to them.
 

As America takes up the just cause of eliminating chemical warfare being used against the Syrian people, we beseech the international community to turn its attention to the weapons of mass destruction already manufactured to be used right here against innocent Americans.

 

 

 

 

Hon. K. Hussein Adams

President

 

Hon. Khadijah Smith

Vice President

 

Hon. Khadija A. Salaam

Treasurer

September 19, 2013

Contact: Matthew Gardner

Phone: (434) 825-2283

Email: public.relations@iqou-moa.org

 

(Washington, DC) Muslims throughout the United States of America condemn the use of chemical warfare on the people of Syria as inhumane, emphasizing that no government should be allowed to use them. For this reason, we appeal to the Secretary General of the United Nations to demonstrate equal concern about the weapons of mass destruction that have been manufactured in the U.S. for the purpose of killing American Muslims. In June 2013, two men, Glen Scott Crawford, a G.E. employee, and his only named accomplice Eric Feight were arrested in Albany, New York after being charged with “conspiracy to provide material support, or resources, intending that they be used in preparation for, or in carrying out… a weapon of mass destruction”, said the criminal complaint. The pair built a “radiation-emitting device that could be placed in the back of a van to covertly emit ionizing radiation…”. The device was designed to target and eliminate Muslims, in America and outside, with an X-ray gun intended to be worse than Hiroshima.

 

We demand the United Nations immediately send inspectors to the U.S. to examine the weapon, as the pair was already successful in testing the remote triggering device. How many weapons have been built? How many additional suspects need apprehending? An FBI affidavit identified as many as eight accomplices who have remained unnamed with no arrests.

 

Over three months ago, USA Today reported that the federal authorities uncovered the builders of the lethal X-ray device were “allegedly planning to build a mobile X-ray weapon to kill Muslims and other "enemies of Israel". Three months after initial arrests, no further action been taken. Will American Muslims suffer the same fate as the people of Syria? Will Muslims be attacked in their own country? American Muslims fully endorse swift action against all forms of weapons of mass destruction and implore the international community to recognize this viable threat to the safety and peace of citizens of the United States of America.

 

The danger is apparently still great for all Muslims living in America under threat of use of this weapon of mass destruction for which the number of weapons manufactured is still unknown. The Muslims of America, Inc. (TMOA) have suffered escalating attacks against their residential properties and residents since the launching of a defamation lawsuit against the extremist group Christian Action Network (CAN) and its president Martin Mawyer related to release of an inflammatory book. Based in Hancock, New York, The Muslims of America have reported to law enforcement the appearance of intruders on several properties across the country including the states of Virginia, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Georgia. In New York, days before the Crawford and Feight arrests, residents identified intruders with heavy Eastern European accents, possibly Russian Jews, who drove onto the property in a van with strange, partially hidden and mounted equipment. In Texas, a man drove past TMOA property for hours, harassed neighbors for information and then trespassed before being stopped by the Muslim residents. The Texas trespasser’s vehicle was registered to a man connected to the Himeni Ministries, a Christian Zionist Church and Act for America!, a known anti-Islam organization. In South Carolina, during a Ladies Summer Program, multiple incidents were reported of suspicious persons posing as salesman descending on the homes of Muslim residents’ homes. In addition, shots fired upon the property prompted a meeting with FBI and local law enforcement to warn about the growing danger as shown in the increased incidents of hate crimes against the TMOA community across the country. In Virginia, thirteen shots rang out in the dark of night endangering innocent men, women and children as the assailants fired into the TMOA sign on the property. Nevertheless, unchecked by law enforcement, dangerous front organizations continue to spread Islamophobic propaganda while publicly posturing as enemies of Islam, but who are in actuality, the real enemies of America. Unfortunately, as good citizens, when these incidents of violence are brought to the attention of the authorities, it is claimed there is no evidence to arrest the perpetrators.

 

We, American Muslims, demand justice and protection. We assert there is no blame on the American government nor the American people for these front organizations who are promoting fear and Islamophobia as a tool in their aim to destroy America by using the American people, American money, and the blood of innocent Americans to fight their wars -proxy wars. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, yet who were among the thousands killed - it was Americans’ citizens, Muslims and Christians alike, who lost their lives in the devastating proxy war in Iraq. Americans, be they Muslim or Christian, all are suffering due to them.
 

As America takes up the just cause of eliminating chemical warfare being used against the Syrian people, we beseech the international community to turn its attention to the weapons of mass destruction already manufactured to be used right here against innocent Americans.

 

 

 

 

Hon. K. Hussein Adams

President

 

Hon. Khadijah Smith

Vice President

 

Hon. Khadija A. Salaam

Treasurer

September 9, 2013

The BVI, home to about 30,000 people and 500,000 registered companies, is one of the world's biggest offshore trust jurisdictions.

Rules coming into force next year will mean US taxpayers must disclose greater detail about assets held abroad.

BVI Premier Orlando Smith said talks with the US were the best way forward.

Jurisdictions such as the BVI provide incorporation registration, so that businesses and super-rich investors can claim they are based on the islands and so avoid taxes in countries where their work is carried out.

In late August, the Cayman Islands agreed with the US on providing information on accounts held by US citizens and residents.

Mr Smith told a news briefing that his administration was negotiating an "intergovernmental agreement" with Washington to comply with the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.

"We are of the very considered opinion that this course is the best one to adopt for the BVI," he said.

Officials on the Caribbean jurisdictions of the Bahamas and Bermuda have also said they intend to comply with the US regulations.