Monday, November 24, 2014

Zimbabwe State Media Accuses High Level ZANU-PF Officials of Treason
Zimbabwe VP Joice Mujuru with President Robert Mugabe.
The vice-president is under pressure to step down before the Zanu-PF congress

21 Nov 2014 00:00
South African Mail & Guardian
Harare Correspondent

Zimbabwe’s Vice-President Joice Mujuru could be fighting the biggest challenge of her political career – a treason charge – following allegations that she was the mastermind behind a plot to assassinate President Robert Mugabe.

Mujuru leads a Zanu-PF faction working to succeed Mugabe. She is up against another faction, led by Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is supported by Mugabe’s wife, Grace. Both deny the existence of the factions.

In a move that Mujuru loyalists believe is meant to put further pressure on the vice-president, there have been growing calls from Grace’s and Mnangagwa’s supporters that she relinquish her post.

Grace and Mnangagwa’s supporters insist that Mujuru and her allies wanted to remove Mugabe from power unconstitutionally, or even assassinate him should he refuse to vacate office, as reported in this week’s edition of the state-owned Sunday Mail.

On Monday, Grace reiterated her call for Mujuru to step down or be fired for treason and incompetency, saying if she did not leave of her own volition, she would not survive the party’s elective congress to be held in less than two weeks.

A charge of treason brought against Mujuru could emanate from statements attributed to senior Zanu-PF officials aligned to her, including the suspended party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, who reportedly suggested that Mugabe be removed forcibly, or even assassinated, to pave way for Mujuru’s ascension to the presidency.


The Sunday Mail said there was a recording in which Gumbo is heard saying in his native Shona language: “If Mugabe continues to push Mujuru out then we will remove him the same way [former Democratic Republic of Congo president Laurent] Kabila was removed.”

Kabila was a close Mugabe ally. He was assassinated in 2001, reportedly by his own security detail.

Analysts who spoke to the newspaper said Mujuru was the plotter and could not be exonerated as it was common cause that she worked closely with Gumbo.

It also claimed that there is another recording of the Zanu-PF secretary of administration and Minister of Presidential Affairs Didymus Mutasa saying: “Mugabe will be shot.” Mutasa’s ministry oversees the intelligence portfolio. The newspaper said he was also working with Mujuru on the assassination.

The Sunday Mail claimed investigations had revealed that a Cabinet minister from Mujuru’s Mashonaland Central province “had made contingencies for such a scenario during recent meetings with potential hit men in South Africa and Israel”.

The paper quoted several analysts and lawyers who said Mujuru should be charged with treason.

Contacted for comment, the police spokesperson, senior assistant commissioner Charity Charamba, refused to discuss whether the newspaper’s allegations were being investigated.

Although the police do not appear to have launched an investigation of possible treason, history has shown that the allegations could be a pre­lude to a criminal prosecution, as has been the case with other politicians who opposed Mugabe in the post-independence era.

Two years after independence in 1982, the late Lookout Masuku and Dumiso Dabengwa, who commanded Joshua Nkomo’s guerrilla Zapu army in the liberation war, and four others were tried for treason following the alleged discovery of arms caches on farms that belonged to their party. They were all subsequently acquitted by the courts because of limited evidence.

Another Mugabe opponent, the late Zimbabwe African National Union founding president, Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, was tried on similar charges in 1997 after a failed bombing attempt on Mugabe’s motorcade. Sithole denied the charge. He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail, although he never served the sentence because of ill health.

Morgan Tsvangirai

In 2002, the Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai was charged with treason after inaudible grainy video footage was broadcast. It was shot covertly and purported to show him with Israeli Ari Ben Menashe allegedly plotting the assassination of Mugabe.

Tsvangirai was acquitted in 2004 after a year-long trial. He was defended by South African lawyer George Bizos. Justice Paddington Garwe ruled that state had failed to prove its case.

In recent weeks, the Mnangagwa and Grace faction has orchestrated the suspension of nine provincial chairpersons deemed to be loyal to Mujuru in a bid to stop her from being nominated for the presidency before the party’s elective congress.

On Monday, Mujuru denied all the allegations.

“I deny any and all the allegations of treason, corruption, incompetence and misuse of public office being routinely made against me in the Herald and Sunday Mail newspapers,” she said.

“I have briefed my legal practitioners to take necessary steps, at law, to restore my good reputation, political standing and dignity. I stand ready to defend myself before the party and in any court of law on any of the allegations made against me, at any time, in accordance with the laws of Zimbabwe.”

She said she was aware of the “unconstitutional call” for her resignation, removal from both party and public office, “on the spurious grounds that I am corrupt, a gossiper, demonic, jealous and divisive, and unfit for consumption by flies and dogs” .

Gumbo, who is the only surviving member of the Dare re Chimurenga (Zanu’s war council during the 1970s liberation struggle), was suspended from the party for five years.

He laughed off the assassination allegations, saying: “Do you think I’m going to comment on that rubbish?”

He was also questioned by the police last weekend about an anonymous Facebook page under the name Baba Jukwa, which posted damaging exposés of corruption and other scandals by Zanu-PF politicians and security officials before last year’s general elections in July. This followed demands by Mugabe at a party politburo meeting that he be questioned about it as he was head of the information department.

‘No substance to allegations’

Mujuru’s allies believe the allegations are being cooked up to force Mujuru not to run for the presidency.

“There is no substance to the allegations at all. This is all about the congress. It’s clear they want her to remain under pressure as they dismantle party structures and put their people in ahead of the congress,” said a politburo member who supports Mujuru.

“They have removed nine out of 10 provincial chairpersons and now they are culling other provincial members deemed sympathetic to Mujuru. The plan is to instil fear throughout the structures, which is regrettable, given that we are heading to congress and people were to choose leaders of their choice.”

The war veterans’ leader, Jabulani Sibanda, was also expelled from the party last week after he refused to support Grace.

Grace is apparently convinced that, without Mugabe, Mujuru would not protect Grace’s business empire and family if she became president.

On Monday, at a meeting with student unions and young people at her farm in Mazowe, a visibly angry Grace said she had a video of Mujuru speaking ill of the first family.

“If you can’t accept that leadership is from God, you lose the plot. You can’t be number one in extortion, number one in corruption and number one in plotting against the party. It amounts to treason,” she said.

“You can’t remove the grandmaster [Mugabe], you can’t do that. You can’t fool around with the grandmaster. He is quiet but, with his voice, he will have the last laugh,” Grace said.
Zimbabwe Security Minister Blames State Media For Creating Anarchy, Destroying ZANU (PF) From Within
Zimbabwe Minister of State Security Didymus Mutasa.
The weekend's Zanu (PF) politburo meeting seems to have put a lid to Joice Mujuru's possibilty of retaining her position at the ruling party's helm as most of her colleagues had their votes of no confidence as chairpersons upheld..

In the latest installment of the ugly infighting ahead of the crucial meeting, and the party’s make-or-break elective congress scheduled for early December, State security minister and Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, says Information Minister Jonathan Moyo has become a national security threat.

Mutasa — who had chosen to keep quiet about the party’s ugly infighting for the past few weeks — told the Daily News in an interview on Saturday that Moyo was at the heart of the besmirching of the names of the country’s top leadership, particularly embattled Vice President Joice Mujuru, a situation that was threatening national security.

He said Moyo was creating anarchy, mainly through his alleged abuse of State media, which was in turn creating chaos within the country’s security apparatus.

“As a matter of fact, they (security agencies) now do not understand what Jonathan nemanewspapers ake (Moyo and his newspapers) are doing.

“And there is a possibility that we shall start investigating him thoroughly because zviri kuitika munyika muno (what is happening in this country) currently hazvisiri zvinhu kwazvo, zvinoputsa nyika zvakatungamirirwa naJonathan (all these things will destroy the country and being led by Jonathan).

“So, zvaaisa muHerald ndizvo zvandinoti manyepo ekugumisisa (What he has put in The Herald are lies of the highest order), the highest level of lying and I do not really think that those lies are worth the paper on which they are written,” Mutasa said ominously.

Efforts to get a comment from Moyo yesterday, including telephone calls and messages to his mobile phone, were unsuccessful.

Mutasa’s claims come in the wake of continuing allegations in State-controlled media that he and ousted party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, among others, are working with Mujuru in a multi-pronged strategy to oust and assassinate President Robert Mugabe.

In Saturday's edition of The Herald, the daily also claimed that the purported multi-pronged plots against the long-ruling nonagenarian included the alleged manipulation of party structures by Mutasa to enhance Mujuru’s chances of victory at the forthcoming congress.

But Mutasa flatly dismissed all the allegations as “the highest level of lying”, perpetrated by Moyo, whom he in turn accused of seeking to destroy Zanu PF from within.

He also said Zimbabwe’s security apparatus was one of the best in the world and would have picked up any such alleged treasonous plans by him and others if they existed for real.

He said his mandate as minister responsible for State security included providing security to the country’s leadership, including the First Family and Mujuru.

Mutasa added that contrary to Moyo’s allegations that were being made via State media, it was the Information minister who was on record as saying that it was not possible to destroy the ruling party from outside — and had thus allegedly set himself on a mission to do the job from within.

“That is my job, to provide security to leadership. I cannot be plotting with them and when I talk to the VP, we will not be plotting. I will be doing my job in accordance with my mandate.

“There has been allegations that Jonathan works with the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and there are articles he wrote to the effect that he wants to destroy Zanu PF from within and I believe that is what he is doing,” Mutasa said.

The veteran politician expressed his dismay with the current state of affairs in the party, which is witnessing unprecedented chaos, including the passing of multiple and confusing votes of no confidence in all but one of Zanu PF’s 10 provincial chairpersons, mostly on contrived allegations of fanning factionalism.

Even here, Mutasa again heaped all the blame at the door of Moyo saying: “It’s horrifying particularly what Jonathan is doing. He should just stop it as Amai (Grace Mugabe) says. He should stop it because he is the author of all that is happening in the party now”.

The State media has been on a crusade to vilify all perceived allies of Mujuru in the past few months, in a propaganda war that analysts say has reached comical proportions.

Analysts also say as the Zanu PF politburo meets again in Harare tomorrow, Mugabe is under mounting pressure to stop the ruling party from imploding altogether as its factional and succession wars turn increasingly violent and messier by the day.

So bad is the climate within the party, and the country by extension, that one senior politburo member asked rhetorically on Thursday, “Who is in charge?” when canvassed for a comment regarding the state and health of the party ahead of the key but potentially stormy meeting.

“I hate to admit it but we are currently a rudderless party characterised by serious confusion and flux. There is neither discipline, direction nor unity of purpose at both party and government level.

“But even more damning perhaps, who is in charge?” the senior politburo member asked, alluding to the many competing centres of power in the divided party that include the excitable First Lady Grace Mugabe, party hardliners and a faction of war veterans.

The party’s ugly infighting has since crystallised into Mujuru being accused by State media and her party enemies of being involved in a sensational plot to assassinate Mugabe.

Daily News
Egyptian Policeman Killed in Sinai Explosion
Egyptian tank in Sinai.
Ahram Online
Sunday 23 Nov 2014

An Egyptian policeman was killed when an armoured vehicle exploded on the western outskirts of Sinai's Arish, Ahram's Arabic news website reported on Sunday.

Medical sources said Ahmed Bakr, 28, was killed in the blast while another policeman, Haitham Abdel-Maqsoud, was injured and taken to hospital.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion.

Egypt's military has been combatting a decade-long jihadist insurgency in Sinai, with attacks increasing over the past year. Hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed, while the army says it has killed and arrested hundreds of jihadists. Civilians have also been caught in the violence.

In October, Egypt announced a three-month state of emergency in Sinai and a curfew from 5pm to 7amin parts of the governorate.

Earlier in November, Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, Egypt's deadliest militant group operating in Sinai, swore allegiance to the jihadist Islamic State, which has seized large swathes of Syria and Iraq in recent months.

Authorities began demolishing houses and clearing residents along the Egyptian border with Gaza, to set a buffer zone in order to better fight the militant insurgency following a deadly attack by militants that killed 30 soldiers on 24 October. 
Tunisia Heads Towards Runoff Between Essebsi and Marzouki 
Tunisians vote for president on Nov. 23, 2014.
Karem Yehia in Tunisia
Sunday 23 Nov 2014

Tunisians voted Sunday in the first presidential election since 2011, the first democratic presidential elections in the country’s history.

Initial data confirms that voter turnout is less than in last month’s legislative elections, which gave secular party Nidaa Tounes the largest number of seats. The figures also highlighted a clear reluctance to vote among young Tunisians.

An hour before the polls closed Chafik Sarsar, the head of the Independent Election Commission, announced at a press conference that the total turnout of voters reached 53.7 percent, compared with the 70 percent in the parliamentary polls. Sarsar also stated that Tunis, the capital, saw the highest turnout at 61.1 percent.

No violent incidents were recorded during Sunday’s vote, Sarsar confirmed.

Nidaa Tounes’s leaderMahmoud Ben Romdhane told Ahram Online that the indicators suggest that there will be a runoff vote between Beji Caid Essebsi, the party’s candidate, and interim president Mouncef Marzouki.

According to Ben Romdhane, Essebsi is ahead on 45 percent of the vote followed by Mouncef Marzouki on 27 percent, with leftist politician Hamma Hammami of the Popular Front party on nearly ten percent.

Ben Romdhane also said that the comparatively low turnout was because many parties did not participate with their strongest candidates, unlike in the parliamentary elections.

He said that the voters realise that the authorities of the president are “far less” than the powers of the parliament and the government.

The Nidaa Tounes leader also hinted that rival Islamist party Ennahda's rank and file have abandoned their support for Marzouki because the leadership of the party obliged them to do so, fearing the future of relations with Nidaa.
Tunisia Vote for Leader Likely to Go to a Runoff

NOV. 23, 2014
New York Times

TUNIS — Tunisians turned out in steady, orderly lines on Sunday to vote in their first free and democratic presidential election, voicing confidence that they were turning the page on the often-fractious transition after the revolution of 2011.

Exit polls suggested that neither of the two leading candidates — the interim president, Moncef Marzouki, and the former prime minister, Beji Caid Essebsi — was likely to win an outright majority and that a runoff between them would be necessary. Official results were not expected for one or two days.

Mr. Essebsi, 87, leads the secular party Nidaa Tounes and has been ahead in polls for months; his party won the largest bloc of seats in parliamentary elections in October. He appeared to be winning between 42 percent and 47 percent of the vote on Sunday, according to the results of two private exit polls that were announced on Tunisian television channels.

Mr. Marzouki, 69, a dissident, physician and human rights activist who has served as interim president since 2011, appeared to be receiving 29 percent to 32 percent of the vote, the exit polls indicated. His party suffered badly in the legislative elections, punished for its role in an Islamist-led coalition government that ruled for two chaotic years. Other candidates among the field of 27 were drawing 10 percent or less.

Each of the leading campaigns claimed that its candidate was ahead but would fall short of a majority. The provisional date for a runoff is Dec. 28.

“We are very happy with the way the election has gone so far,” Mohsen Marzouk, a spokesman for Mr. Essebsi and a senior executive of his party, told reporters soon after the polls closed on Sunday. “We feel we accomplished all the goals set out in this campaign, and we are ready to continue to the next phase.”

Mr. Marzouki, who cast his ballot in the coastal town of Sousse, south of the capital, appeared on national television and called for a clean second round of campaigning. He appealed to those who had supported other candidates to rally behind him. “I ask them to help me put an end to the transition period,” he said, “to establish a democratic pole, national unity and a strong civil society, to end completely the transitional period and to move on to work hard on eradicating the issues of poverty and misery.”

The years since the Tunisian revolution, the first of the Arab Spring uprisings, have been marked with demonstrations, political assassinations and rising terrorism as the country struggled to establish democracy after decades of dictatorship.

Many voters said on Sunday that they were voting for Mr. Essebsi because of his experience. Yet it was not lost on them that nearly four years after ejecting the authoritarian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, they were selecting an older leader who had held senior positions in the era of dictatorship.

“The revolution happened — that will stop things sliding back,” said Aroua Melika, who was beaming after casting her ballot in Tunis.

Another voter, Khira Ben Abderrahmen, said “we live in a democracy now and can choose.” She said she was not worried that Mr. Essebsi might revert to authoritarianism. “We used to be afraid, but we learned to say ‘Out!’ ” she said. “If Essebsi does not work, we can get him out.”

Sunday, November 23, 2014

12-Year-Old Boy Dies After Police in Cleveland Shoot Him
Tamir Rice, 12, was shot to death by the Cleveland police.
New York Times
NOV. 23, 2014

Officials in Cleveland were investigating the police shooting of a 12-year-old boy who died on Sunday, a day after an officer shot him outside a recreation center when he reached for a weapon that turned out to be a fake pistol.

The boy, Tamir E. Rice, died on Sunday at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, the Cuyahoga County medical examiner’s office said. He was shot in the torso at a park on Saturday after witnesses reported that he was waving a gun around and pointing it at people, the police said.

Two police officers responded to the scene and ordered the boy to raise his hands, the police said, but he refused and reached for a gun in his waistband. An officer fired two shots, striking the boy once, the police said.

In a 911 call released by the police, a man said that “a guy” who appeared to be a juvenile was pointing a pistol at people and scaring them. The caller said twice that the gun was “probably fake.”

The police were investigating what information from the call was relayed to the officers, said Jennifer Ciaccia, a police spokeswoman. The Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office was also investigating the shooting.

The two officers were placed on administrative leave, and one of the officers was taken to a hospital for an injury to his ankle, the police said.

The boy lived near the park and went there on Saturday with friends and family, a lawyer for his family, Timothy Kucharski, said on Sunday. Mr. Kucharski said he would conduct his own investigation into the shooting and review the police’s investigation to determine “how exactly an innocent young 12-year-old boy could be killed playing at the park.”

“His mother is devastated,” Mr. Kucharski said. “We’d love to have the prayers of the community right now.”

The shooting of the boy, who was African-American, came as a grand jury is expected to make a decision soon over whether to charge a white police officer who shot an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., setting off months of protests.

Mr. Kucharski said that he did not know the race of the officer who shot the boy, and that the shooting did not appear to have anything to do with race. The important question, he said, was why the officers did not act with more caution because they were dealing with a child.

“The police have to address these things in the proper context,” he said. “This is a 12-year-old boy. This is not a grown man. I’d think you would handle situations with children differently than you would with an adult. They don’t fully understand everything that is going on.”

The shooting happened about 3:30 p.m. at the Cudell Recreation Center on the city’s west side, the police said. Deputy Chief Ed Tomba of the Cleveland police said on Saturday that the boy had not threatened the officers or pointed the weapon at them.

The police learned that the gun was fake after the shooting, Ms. Ciaccia said. The weapon was an “airsoft” replica gun resembling a semiautomatic pistol, with the orange safety tip removed, the police said.

“It looks really, really real, and it’s huge,” Ms. Ciaccia said.

Ashley Southall contributed reporting.
Tamir Rice, 12, Gunned Down by Cleveland Police
Tamir Rice, 12, was killed by the Cleveland Police.
By Cory Shaffer | Northeast Ohio Media Group
November 23, 2014 at 8:04 PM

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Tamir Rice's father asked why Cleveland police officers shot his 12-year-old son Saturday afternoon, instead of using a stun gun to subdue him when they said he pulled what turned out to be a BB gun from his waistband.

Gregory Henderson told reporters Tamir was a "respectful" young man who minded his elders, and he couldn't comprehend that his son would not follow police orders.

"Who would have thought he would go so soon?" Henderson asked underneath the gazebo where his son was mortally wounded.

Here's the police account of what happened:

A caller told police "a guy with a gun was pointing it at people" on the swing set in Cudell Commons park, outside the Cudell Recreation Center. The caller said twice that the gun was "probably fake," but said the person was scaring people.

Police dispatchers radioed to officers that there was "a male with a gun threatening people" outside the rec center. They responded and saw the boy pick up what they thought was a black gun, tuck it in his waistband and take a few steps.

Officers drew their weapons and told the boy to raise his hands. Instead, he lifted his shirt and reached for the handle of the gun sticking out of his waistband. He pulled out the gun, and the officer opened fire, shooting twice, hitting him at least once in the abdomen.

Tamir died at MetroHealth Medical Center early Sunday morning, and police later determined the gun was actually a BB gun, with the orange safety cap removed.

Henderson, who said he was separated from Tamir's mother but saw his son frequently, not only questioned that his son wouldn't follow orders, but wondered why officers needed to open fire.

"Why not taze him? You shot him twice, not once, and at the end of the day you all don't shoot for the legs, you shoot for the upper body," Henderson said.

Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association president Jeff Follmer said the responding officers thought there was a male with a gun in a public park threatening people, and said an officer taking a Taser out when he or she believes there could be a person with a gun puts the officer at risk.

"We're not trained to shoot people in the leg," Follmer said. "If we pull that trigger, we feel our lives are in danger."

The police department's Use of Deadly Force Investigation Team is investigating the shooting and has pulled security footage from the recreation center. The officers have been placed on administrative leave during the investigation, which is standard procedure for police involved in deadly force investigations.

The evidence will eventually be handed over to a grand jury, which will decide whether the officer was justified in using force.
Two Arrested In FBI Sting Operation Targeting Ferguson
Racist set one of the Michael Brown memorials on fire.
Saturday, November 22, 2014 06:05 PM

Two men suspected of buying explosives they planned to detonate during protests in Ferguson, Missouri, once a grand jury decides the Michael Brown case, were arrested and charged with federal firearms offenses, a law enforcement official told Reuters.

Word of the arrests came ahead of the grand jury's widely anticipated decision on whether the white police officer who fatally shot Brown, an unarmed black teenager, should be indicted on criminal charges.

The Aug. 9 slaying of 18-year-old Brown under disputed circumstances became a flashpoint for U.S. racial tensions, triggering weeks of sometimes violent protests in the St. Louis suburb by demonstrators calling for officer Darren Wilson's arrest.

He was instead placed on administrative leave, and Ferguson has been bracing for a new wave of protests, especially if the grand jury chooses not to indict Wilson.

Against this backdrop of heightened tensions, according to a law enforcement source, two men described as reputed members of a militant group called the New Black Panther Party, were arrested in the St. Louis area in an FBI sting operation.

As initially reported by CBS News, the men were suspected of acquiring explosives for pipe bombs that they planned to set off during protests in Ferguson, according to the official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the case.

The official said the two men are the same pair named in a newly unsealed federal indictment returned on Nov. 19 charging Brandon Orlando Baldwin and Olajuwon Davis with purchasing two pistols from a firearms dealer under false pretenses.

Both men were arraigned on Friday in federal court, the law enforcement source said.

The FBI and other federal agencies were reported to have stepped up their presence in the St. Louis area in recent days in anticipation of renewed protests after the grand jury's decision in the Brown case is made known.

An FBI official in St. Louis declined to comment except to say that the two men named in the indictment had been arrested. Officials from the U.S. Attorney's Office for eastern Missouri were not immediately available for comment.
Women Find Their Voice in Ferguson Protest Movement
Women on the frontlines in Ferguson.
In Ferguson, race and gender intersect as female protesters struggle to be heard
Women play a prominent role in organizing Ferguson protests, activists say

Johnetta Elzie saw that she was outnumbered. When she tried to answer students’ questions about the protests that followed the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, the men with her interrupted and answered instead. When she tried to tell her story, the men told theirs instead.

It was about three weeks after Ferguson erupted in unrest last summer and Elzie, another female activist, and six men from the fledgling protest movement were speaking to a room full of Washington University students in St. Louis. Except only the men were talking.

“The other woman was silent. She was just sitting there,” recalled Elzie, 25. “So I just politely packed up all my stuff and went down to the library. I couldn't take it.”

Several young women involved in organizing the Ferguson protests have described similar encounters with a gender barrier: men bowling them over at meetings or not inviting them to help make decisions. The media, they said, also tended to focus on the guys, who sometimes delivered more inflammatory sound bites — about, say, the likelihood of a riot.

But refusing to be silenced, Elzie and her peers have elbowed to the front lines of protests over the Aug. 9 shooting of unarmed, black, 18-year-old Brown by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. As a tense Ferguson awaits a grand jury decision on whether Wilson will be criminally charged in the shooting, many women will be behind the protest bullhorns in the days and weeks ahead.

With a partner, Elzie, who has more than 20,000 Twitter followers, puts out a daily newsletter about Ferguson that has more than 7,000 subscribers and has become a central repository of information about developments around St. Louis.

Other women similarly refused to back down after early skirmishes with their male counterparts. They organized their own demonstrations, contributing to the complicated mesh of establishment and start-up activist groups that took to the streets in the chaotic, early weeks after the shooting.

“There are some who still think God only speaks in baritone, and that leaders only speak in baritone,” said Traci Blackmon, a pastor in the Ferguson-adjoining city of Florissant, who said that her fellow clergy tend to be men. “We still teach our males to be dominant, domineering.”

Meanwhile, girls are taught to be nurturing and collaborative, said Blackmon, one of six women who have been appointed to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s 16-member Ferguson Commission to examine the aftermath of the shooting. “There is a socialization that creates certain forms of leadership.”

However, “we're in a century where women are no longer satisfied to have their leadership channeled through someone else,” Blackmon said. “It's changing, thank God.”

Complaints about male prominence in other left-leaning activist movements have surfaced before. A 2011 Guardian article, titled “Occupy Wall Street's women struggle to make their voices heard,” described the deep discomfort of female activists with some of their male counterparts, who overran the women and made a disproportionate number of the speeches.

Ferguson demonstrator Rika Tyler, 23, recalled an incident when she arrived at the neighborhood where the shooting occurred with two local friends who are rappers, Tef Poe and T-Dubb-O. As tensions escalated, “they were like, ‘Hang back until we figure out what's going on.’”

She refused — and was tear-gassed alongside the area's outspoken state senator, Maria Chappelle-Nadal. Tyler said although Poe tries to include her, “he gets more shine because he is a rapper and he's male,” adding: “Every time I try to say something, he overpowers me, and we've had a long conversation about it.”

Poe didn't respond to requests for comment, but tweeted to his more than 41,000 followers last week, “I invite the criticism from women and members of the LGTB community because at the end of the day I don't know [anything] and they can teach me.”

Tony Rice, a Ferguson resident who became a dedicated demonstrator and tweeter in the city's protests, said he doesn’t think he has talked over women, though “as women they’ve probably picked up on stuff I’ve done.”

Over the months, he said, the protests have become a “women-led movement. ... They're stronger, smarter, sober. A lot of guys are saying, 'I can't be up there [on the front lines], because I've got warrants.' The women don't make excuses.”

Yet television images tend to give an outsized role to men, said Brianna Richardson, 27, a University City resident who used to live in Ferguson and has lately been drawing inspiration from the autobiography of the radical Black Panther activist and fugitive Assata Shakur.

“What you see on the ground and what you see on the news is two completely different pictures,” Richardson said. “You'd think this is all about men, giving all these speeches, having all these ideas. When you're there, you see women have a more prominent role.”

In her activism, Richardson said she brings up black women and girls throughout the nation who have been killed by police.

“When it comes to being a black woman, you deal with the oppression of both race and gender,” Richardson said. “You can't turn one off. I will always be black and a woman. ... Black lives matter, trans lives matter, women's lives matter. I'm standing for all of black lives.”

On the day of Brown's shooting, Brittany Packnett, 30, the executive director of Teach For America in St. Louis, said she was giving her usual speech at a girl's empowerment conference in Kansas City. But as she watched anger unfold in Ferguson — with young women and girls on the scene — Packnett realized that “telling girls to be leaders tomorrow wasn't good enough — they needed to be leaders now.”

And so did she, Packnett said. Like Blackmon, she was appointed to the Ferguson Commission.

Kayla Reed, 25, a pharmacy technician from University City, said she wasn't invited to be a part of planning meetings made of mostly men from established activist groups — until she led her own surprise demonstration in October, earning an invitation to meet with groups like the Organization for Black Struggle and Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment.

Now, Reed said, at some protests “there's actually more women than men. A lot of times you'll see women on the bullhorn — we're not just coming in after the fact, cleaning up, making sandwiches.”
Ferguson Area Prepared for Unrest as Region Waits on Grand Jury Decision
Ferguson youth challenge racist police force after the killing of
Michael Brown
. The nation is awaiting a grand jury decision.
Jon Swaine in Jennings, Missouri
Saturday 22 November 2014 16.23 EST

Towns around Ferguson, Missouri, were being reinforced on Saturday in anticipation of unrest after a long-awaited announcement is made on whether a white police officer will face criminal charges for shooting dead an unarmed black 18-year-old earlier this year.

As county government buildings were barricaded in Clayton, police began taking over parts of a shopping mall in Jennings, just outside Ferguson, where they ran a command centre during nights of clashes between officers and protesters that followed the death of Michael Brown on 9 August.

The latest preparations were being made after two men associated with the New Black Panther Party were charged with making so-called “straw purchases” of handguns from a retailer near Ferguson. Prosecutors are also considering bringing more serious charges against the pair, amid several reports that they were caught by the FBI trying to buy explosives for potential use during protests.

A grand jury that has been considering the shooting for more than three months is expected to announce soon whether officer Darren Wilson should be indicted for killing Brown. It emerged that jurors had not reached a decision by the end of Friday and would not do so until Monday at the earliest.

Amid mounting anxiety in the northern suburb of St Louis, Barack Obama urged demonstrators planning to take to the streets to “keep protests peaceful”. The president told ABC News in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday: “Using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law, contrary to who we are.”

Authorities have warned residents and businesses to prepare for disturbances as a widespread assumption prevails among demonstrators that Wilson will not be indicted. Governor Jay Nixon last week declared a state of emergency and authorised the deployment of the Missouri national guard, while 1,000 regional police officers have been readied for the response.

Three men, aged 55, 26 and 23, were arrested after 11.10pm on Friday for unlawful assembly, according to police. One was from St Louis while two were from towns in the neighbouring state of Illinois. Sergeant Brian Schellman, a spokesman for St Louis County police, said an officer had been “making announcements to clear the street” and stating that “a failure to do so would result in arrest”.

Schellman accused one of the arrestees of blocking traffic and said that one, who was wearing a Guy Fawkes mask associated with the online activist group Anonymous, was “yelling profanities that included that they wanted Ferguson police officer Wilson ‘dead’”. One of the protesters, 26-year-old David Rodriguez, had also been arrested on Wednesday.

Earlier in the evening there was a briefly chaotic scene on West Florissant Avenue, the site of the most intense protests in August, after a driver crashed into a street light pole at the side of the road while an estimated 125 demonstrators blocked traffic at the junction with Canfield Drive, the residential street where Brown was shot dead after being stopped for jaywalking.

Meanwhile an indictment unsealed on Friday said that Olajuwon Davis, who is a “minister of justice” in the St Louis chapter of the New Black Panther Party, along with an associate, Brandon Baldwin, had been charged with breaking firearms laws.

They are accused of having Baldwin, also known as Brandon Muhammed, buy two pistols from a licensed gun dealer in Hazelwood and claim that they were for himself, when in fact he was buying them “on behalf of another person”.

CBS News reported on Friday that the men were also accused of trying to acquire explosives and were detected in an undercover FBI operation. NBC News and Reuters later reported the same. A St Louis official told the Guardian federal prosecutors in the eastern district of Missouri were “considering other charges” against them and that “the case is still under investigation”.

Davis, 22, who is also known as Olajuwon Ali, was one of several New Black Panther Party members who helped direct traffic and keep order in Ferguson on the night of 14 August, after the Missouri state highway patrol relaxed the policing of demonstrations following several nights of a military-style response from county police, whose command was then revoked.

In an email to the Riverfront Times in August, Ali wrote: “For the record we the NBPP and its local chapter members have and never promoted acts of violence towards anyone or any establishment or businesses.”

Leaders of the New Black Panther Party did not respond to emails and voicemails requesting comment. A spokeswoman for the US attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for the FBI’s St Louis field office declined to comment.
Why Haven't We Heard From Ferguson Grand Jury?
Masses demonstrate in Ferguson, Missouri.
By Steve Almasy, CNN
5:34 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014

Grand jury has been solely focusing on Michael Brown shooting
Prosecutors have said deadline is January 7, but decision likely before then
12 jurors have more evidence and testimony to weigh than in a normal case
Ferguson residents seems tired of waiting; some hope lengthy process sign of thorough jury

(CNN) -- The signs pointed to the grand jury drawing near a decision as to whether Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson will be charged with a crime for fatally shooting Michael Brown.

But word leaked out Saturday that when the Missouri grand jury wrapped up its session Friday, it hadn't wrapped up the case. The 12 grand jurors will meet again Monday, sources said.

People are getting antsy. Supporters of Brown's family want to see Wilson go to trial. The officer's supporters want him to be vindicated.

Business owners worry about their property. Officials are concerned about keeping the peace.

It's still unclear when we will hear what the grand jury has decided. In the meantime, here are five things to ponder:

1. Why were there expectations of a decision Friday?

There were several indicators that something was going to happen last week. On Monday, Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency, citing the "possibility of expanded unrest." He also ordered the National Guard to send troops to the area. For weeks, the prosecutors' office in St. Louis County has said there likely would be a decision by mid-November.

Law enforcement officials briefed on the plans said Wednesday the grand jury was going to meet Friday for what might be its final session.

On Thursday, an email went out to all St. Louis County employees detailing security preparations for a grand jury announcement.

2. What does it mean that the grand jury is not done?

That's hard to discern, but it's not as if they have reached the deadline to decide. That's January 7.

Normally, a grand jury in St. Louis County meets every Wednesday. But the grand jury had been extended for the Brown case so jurors have extra time to hear from a number of witnesses and to focus solely on this case.

In this scenario, the panel is allowed to meet on days when all 12 jurors can get together. Once agreed upon, the schedule is given to the prosecuting attorney's office.

The law enforcement officials who told CNN of Friday's session also said St. Louis County prosecutors were preparing to present more evidence to the grand jury before it started deliberating.

3. What is taking the grand jury so long?

Unlike in most grand jury presentations, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch has said he was going to present every piece of evidence and witness he has, much more information than is typically given.

"Absolutely nothing will be left out, so the grand jury is making their decision based upon absolutely everything, and we'll go from there," he told a St. Louis radio station in August.

It is an unusual approach.

"Most times prosecutors decide, 'Look, I want to get an indictment. I'm going to present the minimum amount of testimony I need to get an indictment,' " CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin has said.

McCulloch told CNN's Ana Cabrera that it had taken longer than expected to get some of the witnesses in front of the grand jury.

The grand jury meets in secret, so it is impossible to know whether all the evidence has been presented and all the witnesses have testified. One possibility is the grand jury wanted to hear from a witness again.

Another scenario is that the grand jurors took a break before starting their deliberations.

McCulloch has told CNN that if there is no indictment, he will seek to publicly release all evidence in the case.

Paul Fox, St. Louis County's director of judicial administration, sent a statement to media on Sunday that said that a judge must approve such a request and that the court will have to "analyze the need for maintaining secrecy of the records with the need for public disclosure of the records."

4. What are the possible outcomes a grand jury could reach?

The grand jury is deciding whether Wilson should be charged with any one of several possible crimes, including: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter, said Ed Magee, spokesman for the prosecuting attorney's office.

The grand jury can issue an indictment on any of those four charges, and it also has the option of adding a charge of armed criminal action, authorities said.

At the same time, the grand jury will receive the Missouri statutes for self-defense and the police use of deadly force. It may choose not to indict Wilson.

Once it has heard all testimony and reviewed the evidence, the grand jury determines whether there is probable cause a crime or crimes have been committed. If that is the case, a "true bill" is found and an indictment is issued. If no true bill is found, then there is no charge.

Nine of 12 grand jurors must agree that there is a true bill for the case to head to a trial hearing. But even in the case of a no true bill, prosecutors could theoretically present the evidence to a different grand jury.

HLN legal analyst Joey Jackson said he thinks that is highly unlikely.

Whatever the decision, officials have said they will give notice to law enforcement and other authorities before publicly announcing the outcome.

5. What do Ferguson residents say about the added wait?

It seems to be a mixture of frustration and confusion for Ferguson residents.

"For me, it's like I don't understand what they are stretching it out for. Maybe they don't feel like they have enough evidence, I don't know," said Anthony Kelly.

Others think the grand jury had a pretty easy case.

"Honestly, I don't think it should be a process. This man (Wilson) should be locked up," said Brandon Turner, who works in Ferguson. "Any civilian could have had 20 witnesses pointing at them, and he could have been locked up that day. I think this is crazy."

Some people were guardedly OK with the news that grand jury would meet again. They said rushing through could lead to the wrong decision.

Turner said many people he has talked to believe that Wilson won't be indicted.

"Everybody is in shock that it's taking this long. Everybody is anticipating that he is going to get off," he said.

CNN's Evan Perez contributed to this report.
Ferguson masses confront the police after killing of Michael Brown.
FERGUSON, Mo. -- Despite preparations for a weekend decision in the Ferguson shooting case, the grand jurors apparently needed more time to deliberate, and the uncertainty just seemed to feed the anxiety and speculation Sunday in a city already on edge.

More than 3 months have passed since police Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, killed unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown after some sort of confrontation in the middle of a street in the St. Louis suburb. The shooting triggered riots and looting, and police responded with armored vehicles and tear gas.

Many in the area thought a grand jury decision on whether to charge Wilson with a crime would be announced Sunday, based partly on a stepped-up police presence in the preceding days, including the setting up of barricades around the building where the panel was meeting.

The grand jurors met Friday but apparently didn't reach a decision, and they were widely expected to reconvene on Monday, though there was no official confirmation of that.

During church services Sunday, some pastors encouraged their flocks to stay calm.

The Rev. Freddy Clark of Shalom Church in nearby Florissant told the mostly black interdenominational congregation that "justice will be served" whichever way the decision goes, because God will take care of it.

"None of us are pleased about what happened," said parishioner James Tatum. "Whatever the verdict is, we have to understand that's the verdict."

As they wait, some people have continued daily protests, while speculation has grown that the delays are deliberate.

"People feel like it's been engineered, so that the results wouldn't come out until after the election and until the weather got cold, and it would be more difficult to protest," said Susan McGraugh, supervisor of the Criminal Defense Clinic at the Saint Louis University School of Law. "It's really adding fuel to the fire."

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch had said he expected a grand jury decision by mid-to-late November. But that's not ultimately in his control.

The 12-person grand jury deliberates in secret, without McCulloch, and sets its own schedule depending upon when the members are available.

It's not uncommon for deliberations to take a while in complex cases when, such as in the Brown shooting, self-defense is alleged or there are two widely conflicting versions of events, said Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson, who is not involved in the Ferguson case.

Downtown STL Inc., a St. Louis civic group that promotes downtown businesses, told members in an email Saturday that the grand jury will reconvene Monday to continue deliberating. The email did not explain how the group knew that, and McCulloch's office has not commented on the grand jury's schedule.

If jurors meet Monday, there is no guarantee they will reach a decision that day, or even this week.

"In the course of their deliberations, if one grand juror convinces the others that 'Look, we need to hear from an additional witness,' and they all agree, the prosecutor's got a duty to bring that witness in," Richardson said.

On Saturday evening, several dozen protesters marched in Ferguson, praying, playing music and chanting such slogans as "No justice, no peace" and "Mike Brown means, we've got to fight back." Cars stopped and drivers honked.

Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, spoke to protesters through a bullhorn and urged people to be careful.

"Don't agitate them, and don't let them agitate y'all," she said. "I don't want nobody getting hurt."
Plague Outbreak Kills 40 People in Madagascar
Madagascar voters during national elections in 2013.
By Lynsey Chutel
The Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG – A plague outbreak has killed 40 people on the island nation of Madagascar, with 119 people diagnosed with the bacterial disease since August.

Two people have been diagnosed and one has died in the capital, Antananarivo. The World Health Organization fears the plague outbreak may spread rapidly through Madagascar’s largest and densely populated city, worsened by the country’s poor health care system.

WHO said a national task force has been set up to manage the outbreak, with the cost of the project reaching $200,000. The international health organization said it is working with the Red Cross and Madagascan health authorities to control the disease.

The plague is a disease carried by rodents and spread by fleas. Humans are most often infected when they are bitten by fleas, causing swelling of the lymph nodes and sometimes pneumonia.

Combatting the disease in Madagascar has been made more difficult by a high level of resistance to an insecticide used to control fleas, according to WHO.

Early treatment and antibiotics have been effective in curing the disease, according to WHO.

The bubonic form of the disease, which causes swollen lymph nodes, can be treated with antibiotics. The deadlier pneumonic form, which attacks the lungs, may kill patients within 24 hours, warn health officials. Pneumonic plague is easily spread through coughing but WHO says only two per cent of cases reported in Madagascar have been from this highly infectious form of the disease.

The first case of the outbreak was found in a village in a district two hours away from Antananarivo. The man was positively diagnosed on Aug. 31 and died days later, according to WHO. Since then 16 other districts have reported cases of plague.

The plague is most famous for killing millions of people in Europe during the Middle Ages, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Plague infections still occur throughout the world, mainly in parts of Africa and Asia.
Tunisians Elect President for First Time
Tunisian voter cast ballot on Nov. 23, 2014.
AFP, Sunday 23 Nov 2014

Tunisians vote Sunday in their first presidential election since the 2011 revolution that sparked the Arab Spring, a ballot set to round off an often fraught transition to democracy.

Among the 27 candidates, the hot favourite is former premier Beji Caid Essebsi, an 87-year-old veteran whose anti-Islamist Nidaa Tounes party won parliamentary elections last month.

Others vying for the presidency include outgoing President Moncef Marzouki, several ministers who served under former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, leftwinger Hamma Hammami, business magnate Slim Riahi and a lone woman, magistrate Kalthoum Kannou.

Some 5.3 million people are eligible to cast ballots, with tens of thousands of police and troops deployed to guarantee security amid fears Islamist militants might seek to disrupt voting.

In most of the country, polls open at 8:00 am (0700 GMT) and close 10 hours later. However, voting will be limited to only five hours in some 50 localities close to the Algerian border, where armed groups are active.

A run-off vote will be held at the end of December if no one secures an absolute majority.

Until the revolution, Tunisia knew only two presidents -- Habib Bourguiba, the "father of independence" from France in 1956, and Ben Ali, who deposed him in a 1987 coup.

To prevent another dictatorship, presidential powers have been restricted under a new constitution, with executive prerogatives transferred to a premier drawn from parliament's top party.

Essebsi has run on a campaign of "state prestige", a slogan with wide appeal to Tunisians anxious for an end to instability.

Supporters argue only he can stand up to the Islamists who first held power in the post-Ben Ali era, but critics charge he is out to restore the old regime, having served under both former presidents.

Marzouki has been hammering home the argument that he is the only leader capable of preserving the gains of the uprising, and has said Sunday's vote is the "last stand" for the old guard.

Moderate Islamist party Ennahda, which came second in the legislative election, has not put up a candidate and has invited its members "to elect a president who will guarantee democracy".

Speculation has been rife on the make-up of a new government and the possibility of a coalition between Nidaa Tounes and Ennahda in spite of their fundamental differences.

Tunisia has won international plaudits, despite security and economic setbacks, for having largely steered clear of the violence, repression and lawlessness of fellow Arab Spring countries such as neighbouring Libya.

Whoever wins, tackling the faltering economy will be a top priority, with unemployment, a leading cause of the revolution, running at 15 percent.

Jean-Luc Bernasconi, the World Bank's chief economist in Tunis, said "the economy... must be tackled head-on because the economic challenges are there and are getting worse in some cases."
Tunisian Election: A Look at the Key Candidates
Officials of the Nidaa Tounes Party of Tunisia.
Karem Yehia in Tunisia, Saturday 22 Nov 2014
Ahram Online

Regardless of who wins Tunisia's presidential election on Sunday, Tunisians agree that the upcoming polls will be a landmark in the country’s political history.

Parliamentary elections took place last month, but this week’s election has a bigger profile, with huge and costly banners for the main candidates on display throughout the capital.

Although there are twenty-two candidates standing on Sunday, there were five candidates with particularly strong campaigns.

The candidates with the strongest and most visible campaigns are Beji Caid Essebsi, head of the Nidaa party, which won 38 percent of the seats in the recent parliamentary elections; leftist politician Hamma Hammami of the Popular Front party; the Free National Union's Saleem Riahi, a businessman and head of Club Africain football club; independent candidate Mohamed Ferekha, also a businessman; and interim president Moncef Marzouki.

Marzouki’s campaign is backed by the Ennahda party despite their earlier vow not to support a presidential candidate. His campaign appears to be the most active on the ground.

Marzouki's Congress for the Republic Party was a member of the former Ennhada-led coalition with the Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties Party (Ettakatol). The coalition took office following the first elections in Tunisia after the ouster of Zine Al-Abedine Ben Ali. Members of Marzouki's campaigns could be seen distributing pamphlets of his pictures and platform on people walking in the streets, attempting to attract their attention and support.

Hassan Fatahli, a Tunisian political analyst, told Ahram Online that Marzouki, 69, has intensified his electoral and popular conferences at a pace greater than that of the 88-year-old Essebsi. In fact, several political analysts told Ahram Online that Essebsi and Marzouki have put on the most expansive presidential campaigns, with Hammami coming third with a relatively weaker performance.

Many commentators believe that leftist Hammami may receive more votes than Marzouki and enter the run-off round with Essebsi, as he has showed the "most serious" efforts to break the state of polarisation between the Nidaa leader and the Ennahda-backed candidate.

Hammami is also challenging Marzouki for the title of the “revolution's candidate.” For Essebsi, Hammami is a threat to him in terms of being the candidate defending the civility of the state against the Islamist project sponsored by Ennahda after the revolution.

Hammami, a veteran communist politician who became known during the period of Ben Ali's regime, has changed his look. He started wearing elegant clothes, having a hairstyle for himself, and counting on a team of professional campaigners.

According to media statistics, television interviews with the candidates usually attract a high number of local viewers.

Hammami’s team, following American techniques of electoral campaigning, is apparently capable of organising a well-structured campaign and addressing the masses on all levels. He started his campaign in the poor central Gafsa governorate and vowed to reduce the president's salary.

But, unlike his usual rhetoric, Hammami has stopped calling for dropping Tunisia's foreign debts. At the same time, the presidential candidate has endeavoured to counter attempts to question his piety.

Hammami visited Islamic shrines and promised to maintain Tunisia's Islamic identity, asserting that he himself is a Muslim. Hammami's Popular Front has had veiled women running on its electoral lists since the 2011 constituent assembly elections. And Hammmami’s campaign efforts seem to be paying off; his ability to mobilise large numbers of people during his electoral conferences has seen him emerge as a strong rival to Essebsi and Marzouki.

The polarisation between Essebsi and Marzouki has been a cause of controversy during this election. Ziad Krieshan, the editor in chief of the most influential and respected Tunisian newspaper, Al Maghreb, wrote an article on Wednesday entitled "Welcome polarisation." Krieshan argues that polarisation is a healthy sign in democracies as it means the rotation of power between two political forces or two parties.

Others have objected to the domination of the two candidates, including former central bank governor Mustafa Kamal Al-Nably, a candidate who withdrew from the race citing polarization and complaints of corruption.

The polarisation has also led to errors by the Marzouki and Essebsi campaigns.

When Marzouki for the first time referred to his rivals and the former regime as a "tyrannical", a flurry of condemnation followed. His rivals described his rhetoric as that of extremists and terrorists. Adding to the above, his appearance side by side with Salafists at his electoral conferences was frowned upon by many.

Furthermore, the statement issued on social networking sites by two leaders of the Ruabit Hemayet Al-Thawra (“Links to Protect the Revolution”) threatens that "bloodshed" will happen if Essebsi wins the elections. Marzouki's opponents perceived the statement as expressing support for him. The group was dissolved by a court verdict for involvement in violence.

Marzouki, who warns the Tunisian people in his speeches against the return of the old regime and the predominance of Nidaa Tunis in state institutions, focused in his presidential rally on campaigning in inland areas marginalized under the rule of Habib Bourguiba, the first president of Tunisia, and Ben Ali.

His rivals also charge him of damaging the image of the head of state by wearing informal and inappropriate attire.

He has worn the traditional Albornus costume, a symbol of belonging to the people in the centre, south and the far north-west of Tunisia. Marzouki is originally from Gebeli in the south.

Unlike Marzouki, Essebsi started his campaign at the coast, in front of the cemetery of Habib Bourguiba in the city of Monastir.

Essebsi’s rhetoric, style and even his sunglasses seemed designed to give an image of the great warrior.

Political analyst Kamal Al-Charna told Ahram Online that Essebsi, who uses the rhetoric of return of the state and the priority of security and counter-terrorism, aims to push his main rival Marzouki to pay for the mistakes of the former troika government.

After Essebsi ended his campaign in Sfax, the second largest city and the economic capital of the country. In Sfax, the electorate is split between Nidaa Tunis and Ennahda, he had to face the rumours of illness because of his age and his absence from meetings and conferences. In response Essebsi said a few days ago that he was ready to take off his clothes, to prove his physical capacity to take on the burdens of the job.

Alongside speculation about his age, Essebsi also has to face criticism for his meeting with religious scholars from Al-Zaytuna Mosque. Rivals condemned the meeting as exploitation of religion, and used it to claim he lacked commitment to the idea of a non-religious state.
Tunisians Vote for First Freely Elected President
Tunisian Prime Minister Mouna Jeballi inspects police.
5:11am EST
By Tarek Amara

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisians went to the polls on Sunday to vote for their first directly elected president in the final step to be taken to full democracy after the 2011 revolution that ended the rule of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

More than three years since overturning Ben Ali's one-party rule, Tunisia has become a model of transition for the region by adopting a new constitution, the politics of compromise and avoiding the turmoil facing its neighbors.

"Another distinguished day in the history of Tunisia," said Mouna Jeballi, voting in Soukra district in Tunis. "Now we are the only country in the Arab world, who does not know who their president will be until after the vote is finished."

Sunday's vote follows the general election in October when the main secular Nidaa Tounes party won the most seats in the parliament, beating the Islamist party Ennahda that had won the first free poll in 2011.

Nearly four years after the uprising Tunisia needs stability, with the new government facing the need to make the tough reforms in public spending demanded by international lenders to boost growth and create jobs, while also managing a crackdown on Islamist militants.

Nearly 30 presidential candidates are running but the Nidaa Tounes leader, Beji Caid Essebsi, an 87-year-old former Ben Ali official, has emerged as a frontrunner alongside the current president, Moncef Marzouki, who warns against the rise of one-party era figures like Essebsi.

Most analysts predict neither Essebsi nor Marzouki will win enough votes to avoid a second round of voting in December.

"Tunisians will have their say and I will accept their choice to consolidate Tunisia's transition," Essebsi told reporters after voting.


Deal-making between secular and Islamist rivals has been a feature of Tunisia's political success, including Islamists taking a more flexible approach to allowing officials in the Ben Ali era to return to politics.

But the ascent of former ministers and members of Ben Ali's RCD party is worrying some critics who say they fear their return will be a setback for the revolt against one-party rule and rife corruption.
Essebsi and other former officials say they were not involved in the abuses of the former regime, presenting themselves instead as technocrats having the skills which the country now needs in government.

A new Nidaa Tounes-led government will be formed after the presidential ballot. But the narrow lead it holds over the Islamists of Ennahda in parliament will mean tough post-election negotiations over the new administration.

Ennahda has not put forward a presidential candidate or backed anyone, leaving its supporters' choice open. However, Marzouki will seek to pull in Islamist support with his message of stopping the return of Ben Ali-era officials.

"The old regime wants to impose itself on these elections, especially after they won the most seats in the parliament,” said bank employee Mohammed Souilmi before the vote.

(Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Greg Mahlich)
Togo Opposition Marchers Clash With Security Forces
Togolese police respond to mass demonstrations.
Fri, Nov 21 2014
By John Zodzi

LOME (Reuters) - Security forces in Togo's capital Lome fired tear gas on Friday at stone-throwing opposition supporters who were among thousands of people marching against a potential reelection bid by the president.

The demonstrators were calling on the government to implement an agreed presidential term limit under which President Faure Gnassingbe would step down next year.

They had been granted permission to finish their march in the capital Lome with a seafront rally.

When they deviated from the route, moving into the city center and heading toward parliament, their path was blocked by gendarmes.

A Reuters witness saw young men throwing stones at the security forces, who fired tear gas canisters
at the marchers.

"We don't know what happened ... The youth were speaking with the security forces to access the Place de l'Independance. After a while they started shooting (tear gas)," said Eric Dupuy, a member of the opposition National Alliance for Change party.

He said two opposition supporters had been injured in the violence, including one whose ear had been torn off.

The marchers were quickly driven out of the city center, leaving behind empty streets littered with stones.

Opposition youths dispersed, erected barricades and set fire to tyres, sending plumes of black smoke over the city.

Togo's Security and Civil Protection Ministry had announced in a statement read on state television late on Thursday that all necessary measures would be taken to prevent opposition demonstrators from reaching the parliament building.

Contacted by Reuters following the clashes, the ministry declined to comment.

Supporters of Gnassingbe organized a larger march earlier on Friday that was held without incident.

Gnassingbe was installed as president with army support when his father Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled the West African nation for 38 years, died in 2005. Faure Gnassingbe stepped down under regional pressure but won an election months later and was re-elected for a second term in 2010.

(Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Andrew Roche)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Fed To Review Its Own Oversight Of Big Banks
Detroit demonstration against forced bankruptcy.
By Rachel Stoltzfoos
8:33 PM 11/22/2014

The Federal Reserve has unexpectedly announced it’s reviewing its oversight and regulation of Wall Street, to make sure bank supervisors are considering the right information when making judgments and new rules.

The Fed’s Inspector General will head up the review, and is tasked with figuring out whether supervisors are using the right methods to gather all the relevant information, and whether they consider dissenting views from staff. The goal is to make sure examinations of big banks are “consistent, sound, and supported by all relevant information,” the Fed said in a press release.

Critics, including some members of Congress, are concerned that the supervisors are making corrupt judgments and failing to enforce policies, because they’re too connected to the banking system.

A secret 2009 internal review conducted by the Fed, which was recently uncovered, found that staffers did not feel comfortable voicing their honest opinion and were encouraged to downplay their concerns about banks they were supervising. In September, a former staffer at the New York Federal Reserve was not allowed to take action against Goldman Sachs, reported The Wall Street Journal. And an October IG report found the Fed could have prevented J.P. Morgan from making risky trades in 2012 that ended up costing it $6 billion.

New York Fed President William Dudley defended the Fed in a Senate committee hearing, saying it does not have a problem getting tough on banks, but adding its oversight can always be improved. “I don’t think we have serious cultural problems to the same degree [as Wall Street],” Dudley said according to the WSJ. “But are we perfect? Absolutely not.”

Lawmakers concerned about possible corruption of the Fed have called repeatedly for a full congressional audit, but have not been able to pass a bill. “There is a revolving door from Wall Street to the Treasury to the Fed and back again,” wrote Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul in a January op-ed published by Breitbart. “We have former Secretaries of the Treasury going from government to Wall Street and pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Paul’s version of the bill was stalled again in the Senate this year, but it has a better chance of passing both chambers in the new Republican Congress. Critics worry a congressional audit would violate the independence of the Fed.

In a February congressional hearing, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said an audit would put improper and counterproductive “political pressures” on the Fed. “I don’t believe that the Federal Reserve is in any way corrupt,” she said, according to Politico. ”And I believe that the confidence of markets in the Federal Reserve and in our monetary policy making would not be enhanced by that type of audit.”

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Obama Administration Shielded Banks From Criminal Prosecution, Admits Top Fed Official
Demonstration against Detroit bankruptcy on Oct. 23, 2014. 
By Taylor Tyler
Nov 22, 2014 06:55 PM EST

A top Federal Reserve official admitted Friday that the U.S. government has worked to protect big banks from criminal prosecution due to the belief that such prosecution could harm the financial system, the Huffington Post reported.

U.S. government protection of big banks is a policy the Obama administration has adamantly denied, but during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Friday, William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, candidly admitted to Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, that the policy was indeed a reality.

Under the Obama administration, despite overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing, large financial organizations have avoided criminal prosecution for the following: laundering money for suspected terrorists and drug cartels, manipulating interest rate benchmarks, rigging various commodities markets, misleading investors in mortgage-linked securities, tricking homeowners into taking out expensive mortgages, manipulating municipal debt markets, and breaking state and federal rules when seizing homes from borrowers who were behind on their payments, according to the Huffington Post.

"We were not willing to find those firms guilty before, because we were worried that if we found them guilty, that could somehow potentially destabilize the financial system," Dudley said during the hearing. "We've gotten past that and I think it's really important that we got past that."

It's the first admission from a federal official acknowledging the explicit policy of protecting big banks from prosecution, despite lawmakers having long suspected such an arrangement.

A separate report released Thursday by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations detailed how banks such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan purchases metals warehouses, crude oil tankers and other physical commodities, and used those business to "gain unfair advantages and influence markets," according to the Guardian. U.S. lawmakers claim such commodity hoarding by big banks jeopardized firms and the financial system.

The report charged the banks with engaging in "many billions of dollars of risky commodity activies, owning or controlling, not only vast inventories of physical commodities like crude oil, jet fuel, heating oil, natural gas, copper, aluminum and uranium, but also related businesses, including power plants, coal mines, natural gas facilities, and oil and gas pipelines."

It also found the banks to have benefited from lower borrowing costs and lower capital to debt ratios compared to nonbank companies, and some of the companies "used or contemplated using physical commodity activities that had the effect or potential effect of manipulating or influencing commodity prices."

Head of the committee, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, said, "It's time to restore the separation between banking and commerce and to prevent Wall Street from using nonpublic information to profit at the expense of industry and consumers."
Ferguson Grand Jury to Reconvene Next Week
Demonstration outside of the Ferguson police station calling for the
chief to resign. The nation is awaiting a grand jury decision.
Shopkeepers in Nearby Towns Board Up Store Fronts In Anticipation of Violent Protests

Nov. 22, 2014 7:01 p.m. ET

FERGUSON, Mo.—The grand jury deciding whether to indict a police officer in the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown will reconvene Monday, according to a county official.

The 12 jurors haven’t come to a decision in the case of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson and will meet again next week, according to a St. Louis County official. Though no decision will come this weekend, police still worked to erect barricades in nearby towns, and shopkeepers continued to board up windows on Saturday, following a third night of arrests Friday.

On Friday, the St. Louis County police put up metal barricades around their main building in downtown Clayton. On Saturday, police and workers arranged barricades in front of the justice center where the grand jury has been meeting to determine whether to indict policeman Darren Wilson on criminal charges for the shooting.

Although no date has been set for when the grand jury decision could be announced, St. Louis County Police said on Saturday that Chief Jon Belmar would be instituting 12-hour shifts for officers beginning on Saturday evening. His department is directly responsible for policing civil disturbance or protests in Ferguson.

Shops have long been boarded up in Ferguson, some to replace windows smashed during the unrest following the shooting in August, others to prevent damage in case of more civil disturbance.

But in Clayton, miles away, shopkeepers have just recently begun to board up their store fronts in anticipation of property damage following the impending grand-jury decision.

Some freshly boarded-up shops are carrying euphemistic signs meant to blunt the negative image those precautions taken by their owners convey. One jeweler placed a poster on the boards covering the shop’s windows saying: “Still open during construction.” The shop’s owners declined to comment on the precautions, saying they feared bad publicity.

St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch, who convened the grand jury in August, hasn’t said when the panel will announce its decision on Mr. Wilson, or whether it has yet made a decision. But on Friday he sent emails to members of the media explaining logistics for when the decision is announced.

On Friday night, police confronting protesters wore normal uniforms and didn’t carry riot shields and batons, or crowd-control shotguns, as they had the previous two evenings. A spokesman for the St. Louis County Police said officers “were barely seen” and no lines of police faced off with protesters.

A crowd of dozens of people formed up in front of Ferguson’s police department and held a candlelight vigil sometime around 8 p.m., local time, which included blocking the street in front of the police station and observing a moment of silence for Mr. Brown, the 18-year-old killed in the August shooting.

Police didn’t physically respond to the protesters, instead warning them over a patrol car’s speaker that they could face arrest if they continued to block the street. Most protesters abandoned the police station after an hour or so, and after a heavy but brief rainstorm. They then drove some 2 miles to the area near Canfield Green Apartments, where Mr. Wilson shot and killed the unarmed Mr. Brown on Aug. 9.

Protesters also marched up West Florissant Avenue, site of sometimes-violent protests in the days following Mr. Brown’s death. They blocked lanes of traffic and chanted for around an hour. During the fracas, a driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a light pole as a crowd walked into traffic.

Demonstrators soon headed back to the Ferguson police station, again blocking traffic until around 11 p.m., when a group of officers emerged from the station and arrested three men blocking the street and charging them with unlawful assembly. “Three subjects were taken into custody without further incident,” said the police report. “The remainder of the demonstrators voluntarily removed themselves from the street and onto the sidewalk.”

Write to Ben Kesling at