Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Buhari Escapes As 25 Die in Kaduna, Nigeria Blasts
Damage from Kaduna bomb blast in Nigeria.
Written by Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna), Mohammed Abubakar, Karls Tsokar, Lilian Chukwu (Abuja), Olalekan Okusan (Lagos) and Njadvara Musa (Maiduguri)
Nigerian Guardian

• How I survived, by ex-Head of State

• Jonathan, ACF condemn explosions

• Yero imposes curfew in metropolis

• U.S., UK pledge support over terror

FORMER Head of State and an All Progressives Congress (APC) leader, MajorGen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), Wednesday escaped death as two bomb explosions rocked the Kaduna metropolis, killing about 25 persons and injuring many others.

  Buhari was caught up in one of the explosions which occurred along Kawo Road as he was on his way to his home town, Daura, Katsina State.

  Buhari, according to a witness, was swiftly whisked into another vehicle in his convoy during the explosions.

  President Goodluck Jonathan and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) have deplored the attacks, calling them as acts of wickedness.

    Buhari, in a statement, said: “I was personally involved in a clearly targeted bomb attack today along Ali Akilu Road, Kawo-Kaduna at about 2:30pm on my way to Daura.

   “The unfortunate event, clearly an assassination attempt, came from a fast moving vehicle that made many attempts to overtake my security car but was blocked by my escort vehicle.

    “We reached the market area of Kawo where he took advantage of our slowing down and attempted to ram my car and instantly detonated the bomb which destroyed all the three cars in our convoy.

   “Unfortunately,  when l came down from his vehicle, he saw many dead bodies littered around.They were innocent people going about their daily business who became victims of mass murder.”

  The blasts which occurred at Alkali / Isa Kaita Road near Murtala Muhammed Square and the ever-busy Kawo Motor Park were said to have been caused by suicide bombers.

  Meanwhile, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) is outraged at the blasts which caught up Buhari’s convoy and called for a thorough investigation to unravel those behind the sordid incident.

   Governor Ramalan Yero has condemned the incident, describing it as an act of cowardice, just as he declared a 24- hour curfew in Kaduna metropolis.

  In a related development, gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members on Tuesday invaded Damboa town, Borno State and shot dead five residents.

  Similarly, the Police have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with United States Department of States Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (U.S. NIL) to assist in the training of officers in the fight against terrorism.

  In the same vein, the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) has presented to the leadership of the Force a compendium of wide-ranging guidelines on counter terrorism and eight other areas of law enforcement.

  The first blast occurred at about 11.45 a.m. when many worshippers were returning from the final Tafsir lecture marking the preparation for the end of the Ramadan at the Murtala Muhammed Square.

  An eye witness said that immediately after the lecture, some unknown persons on motorcycles trailed the convoy of a prominent Islamic scholar, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, who also narrowly escaped death in the blasts.

   He added: “One of the suicide bombers who died in the blast attempted blocking the Sheikh’s car, but was chased away by security men. The blast occurred immediately he was shaved off.”

  The second bomb exploded about two hours later near the Kawo Central Motor Park leaving heavy casualties.

  Some of those injured in the blasts were rushed to the 44th Military Reference Hospital, Garkuwa Hospital and Barau Dikko Specialist Hospital.

   Besides, two ambulances loaded with corpses were sited at the 44th Military Reference Hospital when they were later deposited at the mogue.

  A nearby private hospital medical team came to the rescue as security operatives and soldiers were seen conveying the wounded there for treatment, while relations and friends of the dead were seen wailing.

  However, efforts to reach Sheikh Bauchi failed as he was said to have been moved to an unknown destination.

  Sheikh Bauchi has been against the activities of the Boko Haram sect and it was alleged that the sect had planned to kill him at his Asikolaye residence, but the explosive device planted there failed them.

  A source told The Guardian that Sheikh Bauchi and other clerics’ recent visit to

President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja may have angered some Islamic sects who accused Bauchi of betraying a trust.

   Speaking on the incident, the State Commissioner of Police, Shehu Umar, said: “For now, we have recorded 25 deaths. People have just closed from the Ramadan Tafsir led by Sheikh Bauchi, and we provided enough security at Murtala Square, the venue of the Tafsir, but the bomb was planted far away from the venue, to target him through the route he was taking to go home.

  “We are doing our best to safeguard the country, so we are appealing to the perpetrators to lay down their arms.

The police boss added that about 14 people were killed by the second blast in Kawo as the Police command has commenced investigation into the two incidents,” he further said.

   Echoing Umar’s statement, the North West, Zonal Director, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mallam Musa Elallah, said: “As the police said, 25 people were killed, and we have moved those that were injured to various hospitals in town, but we cannot tell you now how many people were injured until we move round the hospitals to take the figures.”

  In a statement, Yero said: “Following the unfortunate situation, 24 hours curfew has been imposed on Kaduna metropolis with immediate effect, to enable security agencies restore normalcy.”

  The governor’s statement signed by the Director General, Media and Publicity, Malam Ahmed Maiyaki, also stressed: “Enemies of peace have visited us with their ungodly venom of wanton destruction of human lives. This blast, coming in the Holy Month of Ramadan is a clear indication that those behind the act have no iota of fear of God as they have none for the sanctity of human life.”

  The governor therefore called on the entire people in the state to be more vigilant with happenings around them and to also avoid unnecessary crowded areas.

  He commiserated with families of victims of the blasts and has directed security agencies to intensify surveillance while they pursue the perpetrators of the blast.

 In a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, Jonathan denounced the targeting of the prominent political and religious leaders by those he called “terrorists and enemies of the nation” in an odious attempt to inflame passions and exacerbate disquiet, fear, insecurity and sectional divisions in the country.  

While thanking God Almighty for sparing the lives of Buhari and Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, the President extends sincere condolences to the families of those who were sadly killed by the bomb blasts.

Jonathan also commiserated with all those who were injured in the twin bombings in this Holy Month of Ramadan, which defy the tenets of Islam, and provide further proof that the terrorists are nothing but blood-thirsty extremists bent on undermining the unity and progress of the nation.

“The President assures residents of Kaduna and all other Nigerians that the Federal Government will continue and further intensify its ongoing efforts to effectively curb the menace of terrorism in the country.

“He has specifically directed the Police and other national security agencies to take all necessary actions to apprehend the perpetrators of today’s attacks on Kaduna and urges all residents of the city to give them the fullest possible cooperation and support as they work to bring the terrorists to justice.”, the statement added.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Muhammed Ibrahim, ACF said:”The bomb blast coming after the Islamic cleric Sheikh Bauchi had concluded this year’s Tafsir at Murtala Muhammad Square, Kaduna with prayers for peace and harmony to reign in Nigeria was worrisome and a national disaster considering the peace Kaduna had enjoyed in the last two years.

The present insecurity situation in the country especially in the Northern region has placed our people in a state of despair and help lessness, it has also crippled the socioeconomic activities of the region.

The Northern leaders called on the Federal Government to decisively use all legitimate means and security apparatus at its disposal to tackle the insecurity situation that is gradually destroying our nation.

   In a statement, the CNPP National Publicity Secretary, Osita Okechukwu said: ‘‘The serial bomb blast across the country is a cause for concern; accordingly we call for thorough investigation. For we are witnesses how rogue regimes in certain climes bomb their citizens under the pretence of the extremist insurgents like Boko Haram.

  ‘‘Our recent history reminds us of the NADECO days when we witnessed series of bomb blasts in Lagos traced to then General Sani Abacha’s regime. This makes imperative it for thorough investigation.”

  According to a 78-year old resident who did not want his name mentioned, “ five gunmen on  masks attacked Damboa village where the black Boko Haram flags were hoisted and later removed and shot dead any person on  sight during the raid.’’

  He added: “I was sitting under a tree near a location where one of the flags was hoisted last Friday, and l heard someone on mask, chanting God is great in Arabic, before shooting sporadically any thing on sight.

   Three minutes after the chanting by the insurgents, they gunned down three people near the District head’s residence, while two others were killed at a nearby farmland, but they did not kill me because of my disabilities.

  Also, another Damboa resident, Habu Yamta, who fled to Maiduguri, also told The Guardian yesterday, that the Tuesday attack was triggered by the removal of hoisted flags on Damboa road and District Head’s palace.

  He added: “These gunmen who killed five people could have been informed that the hoisted flags were been removed last Sunday, before the people fled to Biu and Maiduguri for safety.”

  However, a military source who craved anonymity, confirmed the attack, but could not give details of casualties, as he was not authorised to speak on the incident.

   Signing the MoU on behalf of the Police, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar said the timing for the capacity building/training programme was apt and must be welcomed considering the present challenges being experienced in the country and the forth coming general elections.

  The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle said the MoU represents the two countries’ “mutual commitment to engagement on institutional reforms at the NPF training academies. The goal of this project is to provide modernisation enhancements to the NPF’s training curriculum resulting in a well-trained police force dedicated to the highest ethical standards, proficient in law enforcement, preventing and detecting crime, preserving the peace, and protecting citizens’ rights.”

  The officials of the DFID while on a visit to the IGP did a formal presentation of strategic guidelines on counter-terrorism and eight other core areas of policing as applied in a democracy, to the Nigeria Police Force.

  These include counter-terrorism, integrated intelligence, community-policing, fleet management, human resource management, diversity, use of force, public relations and media.
Central African Republic Factions Announce Ceasefire
Anti-French demonstrations in the Central African Republic.
Rival armed groups in the Central African Republic have signed a ceasefire agreement aimed at ending over a year of religious conflict.

The agreement was signed in Congo between Muslim Seleka rebels and the Christian anti-Balaka militia.

As part of the deal, the Seleka dropped their demand for CAR's partition.

Thousands of people have been killed and almost a quarter of the country's 4.6 million inhabitants have been forced from their homes.

Muslims have been forced to flee the capital city and most of the west of the country, in what rights groups described as ethnic cleansing.

Both sides have been accused of war crimes such as torture and unlawful killing.

The negotiations began in the Congolese capital of Brazzaville on Monday.

"We have signed this ceasefire agreement today in front of everyone. Our commitment is firm and irreversible" said Mohamed Moussa Dhaffane, who headed the Seleka delegation.

Patrick Edouard Ngaissona, head of the anti-Balaka negotiating team, said anyone caught violating the ceasefire would be arrested.

'First step'

The president of the Republic of Congo and mediator of the talks, Denis Sassou Nguesso, said the talks were a success.

"The longest journey begins with the first step... Brazzaville is the first step," he said after the agreement was signed.

The Seleka rebels dropped their demand for CAR to be partitioned into a Muslim north and a Christian south.

Further talks are due to be held in CAR to decide details such as disarmament and the country's political transition.

The latest trouble in CAR began when mainly Muslim rebels seized power in March last year.
CAR's religious make-up:

Christians - 50%
Muslims - 15%
Indigenous beliefs - 35%
Source: Index Mundi

The majority Christian state then descended into ethno-religious warfare.

The presence of some 7,000 international peacekeepers has also failed to put an end to the violence and revenge attacks.

Earlier this month Amnesty international named at least 20 people it says are suspected of ordering or committing atrocities and suggests they should be tried under international law by a hybrid court using national and international experts.
Libya: Security Council Condemns Ongoing Violence and Its Use to Pursue Political Gains
Smoke billowing from clashes between rebels in Libya.
23 July 2014 – The United Nations Security Council today condemned once again the continued violence in Libya, including the fighting around Tripoli International Airport, and reaffirmed that violence must not be used to pursue political goals.

According to a press statement, the Council reiterated once again the need for all sides to engage in political dialogue and refrain from fighting. The country’s recent turmoil is reportedly some of the worst fighting since the 2011 uprising that ousted former leader Muammar al-Qadhafi and the North African nation embarked on its democratic transition.

The Council went on to welcome the announcement of the results of Libya’s parliamentary elections held on 25 June and urged the expeditious seating of the Council of Representatives to begin the important work of building the nation’s political consensus. Meanwhile, the Constitutional Drafting Assembly would draft a document that meets the aspirations of the Libyan people.

In addition, the 15-member Council underscored the importance of a durable commitment of the international community, in close coordination with the UN, to support Libya’s elected representatives and government as they pursue peace and stability.

Last week, the top UN official in Libya said that the recent confrontations, born out of deep political polarization, were playing themselves out at the country’s international airport. Much of the fighting had focused on attempts by different armed groups to assert control over Tripoli’s airport.

Today the Council expressed support to the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), which in recent weeks has come under militia shelling and has since reduced and then altogether withdrew its international staff in the country.
Militia Fighting in Libya Hits Fuel Tanker Near Tripoli Airport
Scene of rebel fighting in Tripoli, Libya.
Violence Escalates Hitting Oil Infrastructure for First Time

By BENOÎT FAUCON
Wall Street Journal
July 23, 2014 1:23 p.m. ET

Heavy fighting around Tripoli airport has hit a fuel tanker, oil and airport officials said Wednesday, as an escalation of violence in Libya damages the oil infrastructure for the first time.

Fighting between rival militia for control of the Libyan capital's airport has left at least 47 dead in the worst clashes in six months. It has also led to the evacuation of oil expatriates and prevented some staff reaching a key oil field denting production there.

The fuel tanker, which was close to the airport, burst into flames after being hit by a missile, according to statements and videos posted on the airport's Facebook FB +2.92%  page. The page subsequently showed the fire had been put out.

Libyan oil officials, who confirmed the incident, said the damage will make it even more difficult to supply Tripoli, which has already suffered from acute shortages of fuel.

However, despite unrest in the capital, oil operations elsewhere have registered some progress. On its Facebook page, the state-run Sirte Oil Co. said production at its oil fields in Eastern Libya has now restarted and it is producing 21,000 barrels a day. The resumption comes after an agreement with protesting guards enabled the reopening of the Brega oil port, which gets its supplies from the fields.

A tanker from Mellitah, a port terminal operation partly run by Eni ENI.MI +0.10%  SpA, has also been scheduled to load, according to another Libyan oil official.

It is unclear when the last shipment took place although loadings were reportedly undertaken there late June.

The news come after state-run National Oil Co. Monday announced the resumption of exports from Libya's largest oil field Sharara.

Write to Benoît Faucon at benoit.faucon@wsj.com
Arizona Takes Nearly 2 Hours to Execute Inmate
Joseph R. Wood died from a two-hour long execution
in Arizona.
By ERIK ECKHOLM
New York Times
JULY 23, 2014

In another unexpectedly prolonged execution using disputed lethal injection drugs, a condemned Arizona prisoner on Wednesday repeatedly gasped for one hour and 40 minutes, according to witnesses, before dying at the Arizona state prison.

At 1:52 p.m. Wednesday, one day after the Supreme Court overturned a stay of execution granted by a federal appeals court last Saturday, on the grounds that the prisoner had a right to know the maker of the lethal drugs and the training of the execution team, the execution of Joseph R. Wood III commenced.

But what would normally be a 10-to-15-minute procedure dragged on for nearly two hours, as Mr. Wood, according to witnesses including reporters and one of his federal defenders, Dale Baich, appeared repeatedly to gasp.

In a bizarre twist, Mr. Wood’s lawyers filed an emergency appeal to a Federal District Court to halt the procedure even as Mr. Wood lay on the gurney.

“He is still alive,” the lawyers said in the federal appeal, filed just after 3 p.m. “This execution has violated Mr. Wood’s Eighth Amendment right to be executed in the absence of cruel and unusual punishment. We respectfully request that this Court stop the execution and require that the Department of Corrections use the lifesaving provisions required in its protocol.”

At 3:39 p.m., one of the defense lawyers placed an emergency call to three justices from the Arizona Supreme Court, which had authorized the execution at the last minute. But 10 minutes later, Mr. Wood lay dead.

“I can tell you, he was snoring,” said Stephanie Grisham, spokeswoman for the Arizona attorney general who was a witness. “There was zero gasping or snorting and that’s just the truth. He was asleep.”

Mr. Wood was executed for the 1989 murders of his estranged girlfriend, Debra Dietz, and her father, Eugene Dietz.

Some family members of the victims said they were not concerned about the execution method, The Associated Press said.

“This man conducted a horrific murder and you guys are going, ‘Let’s worry about the drugs,’ ” Richard Brown, told The A.P. “Why didn’t they give him a bullet, why didn’t we give him Drano?”

Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona said she that was concerned about the length of time the execution took.

“While justice was carried out today, I directed the Department of Corrections to conduct a full review of the process,” she said. “One thing is certain, however, inmate Wood died in a lawful manner and by eyewitness and medical accounts he did not suffer. This is in stark comparison to the gruesome, vicious suffering that he inflicted on his two victims — and the lifetime of suffering he has caused their family.”

But state officials offered no immediate explanation for why the procedure dragged out so long and in a news release, simply announced that the execution of Mr. Wood, 55, had been completed at 3:49 p.m. and described the double murders for which he had been condemned.

The events in Arizona on Wednesday bore eerie parallels to a botched execution in Oklahoma in April, which also followed unsuccessful appeals to force the state to reveal more details about lethal drugs. In Oklahoma, Clayton D. Lockett visibly gasped and writhed on a gurney for several minutes, then later died of what state officials said was heart failure.

In that case, preliminary indications are that the catheter was improperly placed, spilling the execution drugs into Mr. Lockett’s tissue rather than into his veins so that he was only partly sedated before receiving only a partial dose of a painful heart-stopping drug.

Arizona officials said they were using the same sedative that was used in Oklahoma, midazolam, together with a different second drug, hydromorphone, a combination that has been used previously in Ohio.

Capital punishment by lethal injection has been thrown into turmoil as the supplies of traditionally used barbiturates have dried up, in part because companies are unwilling to manufacture and sell them for this purpose.

Arizona officials, like those in Oklahoma before, have turned to new drug combinations and refused to reveal the manufacturers, saying this would lead them to stop providing the drugs.

Mr. Wood’s lawyers won a short-lived victory on Saturday, when the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, said his execution must be delayed until the state revealed the source of the drugs and specific details about the training of those carrying out the execution.

But on Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court overturned the stay.

Ian Lovett and Fernanda Santos contributed reporting.
Radical Black Reading: Summer 2014

By THE PUBLIC ARCHIVE | Published: JULY 22, 2014

Black people have seen in the condition and treatment of the Palestinians a reflection of their own and recent statements by Black writers, scholars, artists, and activists have affirmed the history of Black solidarity with Palestine. Alice Walker, Robin D.G. Kelley, Angela Davis, Ferrari Sheppard, Teju Cole, dream hampton, Margaret Kimberley, Glen Ford, Kevin Alexander Gray, and others have all spoken to the sheer brutality meted out against the Palestinian people by the State of Israel. They have foregrounded the historical parallels between the everyday practices of violence, the modes of legal disenfranchisement, the normalization of racism, and the forms of segregation and containment through which the policies of the Israel towards the Palestinian people mirror the historic regimes of apartheid in South Africa and Jim Crow in the United States. And they have been at the forefront of calls for international solidarity with Palestine and for support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement against Israel – calls that have taken on an added urgency in light of the current Israeli offensive against Gaza.

For background on the history and politics of the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian quest for self-determination, The Public Archive recommends a number of recent texts. In The Battle for Justice in Palestine, Ali Abunimah, editor of the Electronic Intifada, places the complex local politics of the conflict into global context while describing the impact of the neoliberal turn on the practices of occupation. The collection Palestine, compiled by Funambumlist editor Leopold Lambert as part of his fantastic publication series, offers a critical take on the cartographic, spatial, and architectural elements of settler colonialism. In Nablus: City of Civilizations [pdf] architect Naseer Rahmi ‘Arafãt conjures a meticulous oral and architectural history of the city of Nablus, a cross-roads of Arab civilization that has witnessed almost complete destruction as a result of occupation. The late Edward Said’s The Question of Palestine remains an eloquent and ethical classic while in the Idea of Israel: A History of Power and Knowledge, Israeli historian Illan Pappé, author of the earlier The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, provides an  uncompromising investigation into the ideology of Zionism and its manifestation in the practices of Israeli settler colonialism.

For more on the specific question of Black solidarity with Palestine, the Black on Palestine Tumblr is a must-follow archive of videos, links, essays, and excerpts. In Black Liberation and Palestine Solidarity, published by the excellent Atlanta-based autonomous publishing house, On Our Own Authority! Publishers, Lennie Brenner and Matthew Quest offer a clear-eyed and unflinching read of the politics and rhetorics of the Black freedom movement in its encounter with Israeli settler colonialism. The longer and broader history of the question of solidarity between the African diaspora and the Arab world is recounted in Alex Lubin’s comprehensive The Geography of Liberation: The Making of an Afro-Arab Political Imaginary. Sohail Daulatzai’s Black Star, Crescent Moon: The Muslim International and Black Freedom Beyond America examines how African Americans have seen themselves as part of what Daulatzai calls the “Muslim Third World” and shows how radial, internationalist, and anti-imperialist modes of Blackness, from an era stretching from the Cold War to the War on Terror, have found alliance with Muslim struggles for freedom.

A number of recent monographs have approached a different question of solidarity, alliance, and affiliation within the Black World: the question of solidarity through the history of sound. Shana Redmond’s Anthem: Social Movements and the sound of solidarity in the African diaspora, examines Black song and Black citizenship in the soundtrack of Black protest. Tsitsi Ella Jaji’s Africa in Stereo: Modernism, Music, and Pan-African Solidarity reads the reverberations of African American music across the Black Atlantic through its influences in Senegal, Ghana, and South Africa. Gaye Theresa Johnson writes of solidarity and sound in The Public Archive’s new favorite city: Los Angeles. In Space of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity: Music, Race, and Spatial Entitlement in Los Angeles, Johnson explores the history of racial conflict and inter-racial alliance between Blacks and Chicanos in L.A. from the 1940s to the present and the sonic and spatial strategies of solidarity. Meanwhile, a more traditional group of texts have recovered the history of Black Internationalism and pan-African struggle of the of the Interwar years: Hakim Adi’s Pan-Africanism and Communism: The Communist International, Africa and the Diapora, 1919-1939, Gerald Horne’s Black Revolutionary: William Paterson & the Globalization of the African American Freedom Struggle, and Holger Weiss, Framing a Radical African Atlantic: African American Agency, West African Intellectuals and the International Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers, a book whose use of Soviet archives is unprecedented.

Finally, two recent texts look at the impact of revolutions in the Caribbean on the practices of solidarity in the international theatre of the Cold War. David Scott’s Omens of Adversity: Tragedy, Time, Memory, and Justice considers the history and historiography of the collapse of Grenada Revolution and its impact on the Caribbean left. In Visions of Freedom: Havana, Washington, Pretoria, and the Struggle for Southern Africa, 1976-1991, Piero Gleijeses examines the resonances of the Cuban victories in Angola and Namibia on the struggles to dismantle apartheid in South Africa. Scott offers an account of failed revolution; Gleijeses one of success. Both offer lessons for Palestine and the Palestinian solidarity movement.

Enjoy the summer.
Journalist Who Accused MSNBC Of Pro-Israel Bias: I've Been Canceled!
Palestinian-American canned after criticizing pro-Israel reporting
of so-called liberal network.
By TOM KLUDT
JULY 21, 2014, 11:51 PM EDT

After expressing some candid on-air criticism of MSNBC, network contributor Rula Jebreal is wondering if she's in the cable news channel's dog house.

Jebreal said in a tweet Monday evening that her "forthcoming TV appearances" had been canceled. The Palestinian journalist also questioned if there might be a "link" between the cancelations and her comments earlier in the day in which she said MSNBC's coverage had been biased toward Israel amid the nation's ongoing conflict with Hamas.

While appearing on Monday's episode of "Ronan Farrow Daily," Jebreal said the channel's coverage of the conflict was too favorable toward Israel. She even singled out Andrea Mitchell, the NBC News foreign affairs correspondent and MSNBC host.

"Look at how many airtime Netanyahu and his folks have on air on a daily basis. Andrea Mitchell and others," Jebreal said. "I never see one Palestinian being interviewed on theses same issues."

Jebreal also used the appearance to address the ordeal of Ayman Mohyeldin, the NBC News correspondent who was mysteriously pulled off the network's coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict last week. Many journalists, including Jebreal, believed the decision was politically motivated.

"Listen, the Ayman Mohyeldin story, let's talk about this. We are home and we can discuss this. Ayman Mohyeldin is covering the Palestinian side and we get upset," Jebreal said. "It's too pro-Palestinian. We don't like it. We push him back and thanks for social media that brought him in."

After a considerable backlash, NBC returned Mohyeldin to Gaza this weekend to cover the story.

In her tweet, Jebreal asked if the Daily Beast's Eli Lake had the same experience. During their appearance earlier on Farrow's program, Lake said he was "baffled" by Jebreal's contention that Israel received disproportionately positive press.

Lake responded to Jebreal's tweet, saying he "didn’t have any forthcoming TV appearances to cancel."
Two Ukrainian Military Jets Shot Down Over Southeastern Area
 
A Ukraine map.
By Carol Morello and Michael Birnbaum
July 23 at 9:48 AM  

KHARKIV, Ukraine — Two Ukrainian warplanes were shot down Wednesday over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in the same vicinity as a Malaysian airliner that was downed last week, Ukrainian officials said.

The planes, both Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft, were struck in the vicinity of Saur Mogila, a town just west of the Russian border, said Aleksey Dmitrashkovsky, a spokesman for the Ukrainian armed forces. He said he had no information about the fate of the pilots.

But Bogdan Senik, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, said a witness reported seeing at least one parachute open.

Vladislav Seleznev, a Ukrainian military spokesman in the eastern combat zone, said the two jets were struck by antiaircraft missiles when they were flying in the same vicinity as Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which was shot down last week with 298 passengers and crew on board. He said a pilot was the only person in each of the two Soviet-designed military planes, which are used for close air support.

The downing of the warplanes came as bodies of MH17 victims were being flown out of Ukraine en route to the Netherlands.

U.S. and Ukrainian officials have charged that pro-Russian separatist rebels used a surface-to-air missile system supplied by Russia to shoot down the Malaysian plane. The rebels have denied involvement, but they claimed responsibility Wednesday for shooting down the Ukrainian jets, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported. The agency said rebels in Donetsk made the claim and were searching for the pilot who ejected.

The downing of the two strike aircraft came as the Ukrainian military said it had instituted a cease-fire within 25 miles of the site where MH17 went down last week.

“That is the site where Ukrainian armed forces have no activities,” said Ukrainian security spokesman Andriy Lysenko before the downing of the military planes had been disclosed. “There is a prohibition by order.”

The site of Wednesday’s crashes appeared to be close to the edge of that perimeter, approximately 25 miles to the south.

At the main MH17 crash site early Wednesday afternoon — before the jets were shot down — black columns of smoke could be seen rising on the eastern horizon in the direction of Luhansk, a rebel-held city where there has been heavy fighting for weeks. Military aircraft buzzed overhead.

Explosions and gunfire could be heard throughout Tuesday night in the city of Donetsk, as the Ukrainian army continued a push against the rebels in their main stronghold.


The fighting has caused hair-trigger tension on the rebel side. Late Tuesday at the rebel headquarters in the main regional administration building in Donetsk, reports that the building was about to be bombed sent crowds of men in ragtag camouflage uniforms scurrying into a makeshift bomb shelter in the basement. The threat never materialized.

The Ukrainian military said early Wednesday that rebel forces were abandoning positions on the outskirts of Donetsk and regrouping in the city’s center. The claim could not be immediately verified.

According to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, “pro-Russian terrorists began firing antiaircraft missile systems” at the planes in the area of Saur Mogila, near the town of Snizhne and about 10 miles from Torez, where the bodies of the Malaysia Airlines victims were initially taken.

“Two aircraft suffered damage,” the ministry said on its Web site. “The pilots ejected themselves.”

A spokesman for the Ukrainian military told Interfax that the military did not know the current status or location of the pilots.

Donetsk rebels told Interfax that the second plane flew farther north of the area where they were looking for one pilot who was seen ejecting.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said an Su-25 jet was shot down by pro-Russian separatists in Luhansk last week, the day before MH17 was blasted out of the sky.

Luhansk rebels also told Interfax on Wednesday that they had shot down two other military aircraft on Tuesday.

“Four Su-25 attack aircraft and two Su-27 fighters spent the whole day yesterday flying over the Luhansk People’s Republic territory,” Interfax quoted a spokesman for the rebel organization as saying Wednesday. “As a result of using the republic’s air defense weapons, two hostile aircraft were destroyed.”

Even as the rebels claimed responsibility Wednesday for shooting down multiple Ukrainian military planes, a spokesman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused the Ukrainian army of preventing a cease-fire by carrying out strikes near the crash site.

“Kiev is not willing to listen to the voice reason and accept a cease-fire that was not once but twice offered by militia representatives,” spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement posted on the Foreign Ministry’s Web site Wednesday afternoon. “Strikes from heavy weapons are being carried out, among other things, against populated areas and in the immediate vicinity of the crash site.”
Police Custody Death Tests NYPD's 'Broken Windows' Crackdown on Petty Offenses
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, center left, speaks
to the media during a vigil demanding justice for Eric Garner,
a Staten Island man who died while being arrested by New York
City police, Tuesday, July 22, 2014, in New York. Demonstrators
gathered at a park Tuesday, near where police attempted to arrest
Garner, 43, on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes.
(AP Photo/John Minchillo) 
NEW YORK (AP) — Eric Garner, who died in police custody last week after he was put in an apparent chokehold, was suspected of committing the relatively minor crime of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes on the street.

The encounter was an unintended consequence of the New York Police Department's embrace of the policing tactic called "Broken Windows" — the idea that going after smaller crimes such as public drinking or graffiti helps stop greater disorder such as assault and murder.

But Garner's death has put Broken Windows under renewed scrutiny, with some lawmakers and experts saying the decades-old theory no longer applies to a city with far less crime, unnecessarily puts nonviolent people at risk and fuels tensions in the city's minority communities.

"I don't think it's a necessary police tactic," City Councilman Andy King said Tuesday during a news conference about Garner's death. City Councilwoman Inez Barron added that such enforcement "leads to confrontations like this."

The tactic caused a stir even before Garner's death. An 84-year-old pedestrian on Manhattan's Upper West Side who tussled with police officers trying to stop him for jaywalking earlier this year ended up with a bloody head injury. He's since filed a $5 million claim against the city alleging he was assaulted.

But the Garner case has turned up the heat. His arrest was captured on a widely-distributed amateur video that appears to show an officer putting the asthmatic, 350-pound father of six in a banned chokehold after he refused to be handcuffed. He can be heard yelling, "I can't breathe!" as several officers take him down.

Autopsy results are pending on a death that has sparked protests, a criminal probe and a warning by the Rev. Al Sharpton that Garner's family would explore asking for a federal civil rights investigation. The family held a candlelight vigil Tuesday night on the eve a funeral set for Wednesday night.

The criticism comes at a time when the new administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio has sought to ease tensions between police and minorities by curtailing the department's widespread use of street stops of young men — so-called "stop and frisk" — as a strategy to curb crime. De Blasio's pick for police commissioner, William Bratton, uses Broken Windows as an alternative tool to help keep crime rates at historic lows.

Bratton vowed on Tuesday to stick with the program, saying the NYPD plans to next target illegal vendors who rent bikes in Central Park. He credited a similar crackdown on fare beaters during his first tenure as police commissioner in the 1990s with being the "tipping point" for a drastic reduction in overall crime in the subways.

"There's no change in that focus at all," Bratton said of Broken Windows. "That's a key part of what we're doing."

But critics say Broken Windows is broken.

"This is a defining moment for that administration. ... There is no human being who can look at that video and say nothing wrong occurred," said City Councilman Jumaane Williams.

The idea that the approach reduces serious crime is a hypothesis without any data to back it up, said Brooklyn College sociology professor Alex Vitale.

Vitale said Broken Windows and systematic stop and frisk tactics are examples of "over-policing" that would have been considered a waste of resources in past eras.

"Twenty years ago, if an officer had brought in Eric Garner for selling loose cigarettes," Vitale said, "his sergeant would have laughed him out of the precinct house."
Funeral To Be Held For Staten Island Man Who Died In Police Custody
People call for justice in the policy killing of Eric Garner.
July 23, 2014 7:49 AM

NEW YORK (CBS NewYork/AP) – A wake and funeral will be held Wednesday for a Staten Island man who died while in police custody.

Demonstrators marched through the streets on Tuesday to demand swift justice for Eric Garner.

“It ends today,” the crowd of Garner’s relatives, friends and local elected officials chanted as they walked from a Staten Island park across from where police confronted him last Thursday to the precinct where the officers involved were stationed.

An amateur video of Garner’s arrest shows an officer putting him in an apparent chokehold after he refuses to be handcuffed.

The tactic is banned by the NYPD, but has been the subject of more than 1,000 complaints to the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board over the last five years.

Garner’s sister, Ellisha Flagg, said at a vigil at Tompkinsville Park that the chokehold likely exacerbated the effects of the 6-foot-3, 350-pound Garner’s asthma, a condition he battled since childhood.

“My brother even respected the police all the way to the end,” she said. “He still has his hands up in the air. He even allowed them to take his breath and didn’t fight back.”

Police were arresting Garner on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes.

The video of the arrest shows an officer putting his arm around Garner’s neck as Garner is taken to the ground and his face is pushed into the sidewalk. Garner, before losing consciousness, is heard yelling repeatedly, “I can’t breathe!”

Autopsy results are pending in Garner’s death. Police officials said Garner died while being transported to the hospital, but that a preliminary investigation shows no damage to his windpipe.

In the wake of his death, two paramedics and two emergency medical technicians who responded to the call were suspended without pay pending the investigation, Richmond University Medical Center said.

Two police officers on the case have also been placed on modified duty. Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who appeared to have put Garner in the chokehold, surrendered his gun and badge.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Tuesday the police department would retrain its officers on the use of force.

“The department needs to do a lot more in terms of training,” Bratton said at a news conference.

“A top to bottom review of all of the training that this department provides to its personel, specifically focusing on use of force.”

That training includes sending a team of officers next week to Los Angeles, where Bratton served as commissioner for seven years, to learn how that city’s police department modified its use-of-force protocols after several high-profile episodes of brutality.

Bratton also said multiple investigations were underway in Garner’s death and more are expected.

A criminal investigation already has been launched by the Staten Island District Attorney’s Office, along with an internal police investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau.

Bratton also said Tuesday the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will also likely launch federal investigations.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, speaking at the Garner vigil Tuesday night, said she is determined to make sure his death is fully and quickly investigated.

“It’s difficult to avoid being overwhelmed by sadness, by anger and a deeply disturbing concern that we’ve all been here before,” she said.

Garner’s death has raised questions about the NYPD’s embrace of the “broken windows” theory of policing.

Critics say the theory, that low-grade lawlessness such as drinking in public and making graffiti can invite greater disorder including traffic fatalities and violent crime, can needlessly put nonviolent people at risk and fuel tensions in minority communities.

Such enforcement “leads to confrontations like this,” City Councilwoman Inez Barron said at a news conference about Garner’s death.

Bratton vowed to stick with the program, saying the NYPD plans to next target illegal vendors who rent bikes in Central Park.

He credited a similar crackdown on subway fare beaters in the 1990s with being the “tipping point” for a drastic reduction in overall crime in the subway trains.

Garner had been arrested 31 times since 1988 on charges including drug possession, assault and selling untaxed cigarettes, according to police.

He was facing two open untaxed-cigarette cases, plus a third case in which prosecutors dropped that charge but were still pursuing unlicensed driving and marijuana possession charges stemming from an August 2013 car stop, court records show.

He was fighting them all, his attorneys said.

In 2007, he filed a lawsuit against a NYPD cop charging his civil rights were violated during a strip search. The case was dismissed  because of a technicality. Garner had not updated the court with his current address.

Garner had a son starting college, five other children and two grandchildren. He had a couple of temporary jobs with the city Department of Parks and Recreation in recent years, most recently helping with horticulture crews and maintenance in 2013.
Ghana Government Urged to Save NHIS From Collapse
Ghana health care campaign threatened with collapse.
Accra, July 8, GNA – The Universal Access to Health Care Campaign (UAHC) has urged government to consider mobilising sufficient resources to help save the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) from collapse.

The Universal Access to Health Care Campaign is a National Campaign driven by a network of Local and International Non-governmental organisations.

A statement to the Ghana News Agency on Tuesday by the National Coordinator of UAHC, Sidua Hor, said the scheme is facing many challenges that called for urgent government action.

Two major service providers, Christian Health Association of Ghana and Health Insurance Service Providers Association of Ghana, had warned that they may suspend no longer  provide health care services to NHIS card holders.

According to Mr Hor, that is due to the inability of the National Health Insurance Authority to pay outstanding bills and economic tariffs for services rendered.

“Subscribers of NHIS…will be made to pay cash before receiving any health care,” he added.

Mr Hor said: “NHIS is indebted to CHAG in excess of GH¢50 million. There are about 183 mission hospitals in the country which provide health care services to Ghanaians, especially those in deprived communities.”

He noted that the way health systems are financed is an important pre-requisite for achieving Universal Health Coverage.

However, he said, the current state of funding the NHIS is not sustainable because even though majority of the funds are from the National Health Insurance Lev and 2.5 per cent of VAT on goods and services, a large number of people are unable to access NHIS because they cannot afford to pay the annual premium.

“Current enrolment rates on the NHIS stands at only 34 per cent of the population as quoted in the 2010 NHIA Annual Report.”

A 2013 World Bank Report projected that Ghana’s NHIS will go bankrupt if it continues with its current funding mechanism.

Mr Hor said: "there are a lot of inefficiencies with the Scheme arising from poor payment of premium and membership card administration."

The cost of claims administration is estimated to have increased by around 40 folds since 2004.

Mr Hor also called on the Ministry of Health to set up adjudication committee of the NHIS to facilitate the speedy adjudication of cases among service providers, subscribers and the NHIA.

This is a requirement as contained in Section 106 of Act 852.

GNA

Source: GNA Story (http://www.ghananewsagency.org/health/government-urged-to-save-nhis-from-collapse-76987)
Published: 2014-07-08 17:13:32
© Ghana News Agency
Organised Labour to Strike on Thursday in Ghana
Long lines at petrol stations in Ghana.
Accra, July 22, GNA – Mr Kofi Asamoah, General Secretary, Trade Union Congress (TUC), on Tuesday said organised labour would demonstrate against the worsening economic situations in the country on Thursday as announced.

According to him, although the government had pleaded for the TUC to rescind the decision to hit the streets of Accra and all the Regional capitals because it coincides with the commemoration of the second anniversary of the Late President John Atta Mills, “the demo will go on”.

Addressing a news  conference organised by the Tema District Council of Labour in Tema, he said organised labour per constitutional requirement have obtained permit from Ghana Police Service and expressed optimism that the  Police would provide security for the demonstrators.

He advised workers to ensure that the exercise is peaceful to carry the real import of the predicament facing the Ghanaian worker and how they should be handled.

He said demonstrators would call for the revamping of the railway sector,  Tema Oil Refinery , measures to address the rising cost of living and the depreciation of the Cedi and other pressing national issues.

He called for efficient production and distribution of electricity and water to assure that citizens do not pay for the inefficiencies of utility companies.

Mr Asamoah asked the Pensions Regulatory Authority to address the challenges in the implementation of the new pension scheme.

He called on government to address the widespread corruption that has reached unprecedented levels the history of Ghana.

GNA
Ghana TUC Calls Police Bluff…”We Will Demonstrate, Police Or No Police”

Secretary General of the Ghana Trade Union Congress Kofi
Asamoah.
Date published: July 22, 2014
By Bernice Bessey with Bureau files

AFTER REJECTING the call by the government to put on hold the intended strike and nationwide street protest against unbearable economic situation in the country, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) is now on a collision course with the Ghana Police Service, which has stated publicly that it cannot provide men to police the intended demonstrations.

The Acting Director of Public Affairs at the Ghana Police Service, DSP Cephas Arthur was quoted by Joy FM   as saying that: “We will not be in the position to provide adequate protection for the demonstrators, as well as other people, who are going about their duties peacefully, and so we suggested to them to hold the demonstration on a regional basis to enable the police mobilize enough personnel to provide security and protection for the demonstration.”

But Secretary General of TUC, Mr. Kofi Asamoah is warning the police to put its house in order and provide men to protect the demonstrators on Thursday throughout the country.  “It is important that nobody put any spokes in the wheels of the determined workers who want to express their frustrations about the worsening socio-economic conditions in the country,” he warned, adding “I really do not see their problem.

For instance, when it’s May Day, we do it in all regions and the police ensure that all necessary security measures are done without any problem.” Meanwhile, before the police and the TUC could resolve the impasse and ensure smooth demonstration on Thursday, Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) had already hit the streets protesting against the economic hardship in the country, which they say could result in the collapse of industries and subsequent loss of jobs.

The demonstration, which took place in Tema yesterday, saw about six hundred members of the union holding various placards warning the government to salvage the economy.  Mr. Kofi Asamoah last week Friday addressed a news conference in Accra to announce the simultaneous demonstrations across the country on Thursday July 24, 2014, to protest against the deteriorating economic condition in the country.

He quoted Article 36 Clause One of the 1992 Constitution which states that: ‘The State shall take all necessary action to ensure that the national economy is managed in such a manner as to maximize the rate of economic development and to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every person in Ghana and to provide adequate means of livelihood and suitable employment and public assistance to the needy’.

Mr. Kofi Asamoah regretted that the government in its policy formulation and implementation has breached these conditions entrenched in the constitution by constantly increasing utility tariffs, prices of petroleum products and enforcing other negative measures that are in conflict with the social life of the people.  “The economic situation has moved from bad to worse and it is deteriorating by the day. There seem to be no end in sight,” he noted.

He indicated that current trend of the economy was suffocating businesses, heighten unemployment rate, loss of jobs, increase commodity prices, energy deficiency among others.  Mr. Asamoah also touched on National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which is in financial distress and Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) that is at the mercy of Bulk Distributions Companies, and the National Pension Regulatory Authority among others.

He said Organized Labour and the working population of Ghana, therefore, demand immediate action by the government to halt the depreciation of the cedi and rising cost of living, to bring on stream the gas pipeline, efficiency in the production and distribution of electricity, revive TOR and address corruption in the government.

Meanwhile the minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Haruna Iddrisu last Friday issued a statement appealing to the TUC to exercise restraint. The following is the full press statement; Government’s attention has been drawn to a declaration of a work boycott (strike action) on Thursday 24th July, 2014 at a press conference addressed by the Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) on behalf of organized labour.

Government appeals to organized labour to reconsider their decision and engage government in constructive dialogue and consultations with a view to addressing the issues raised within the constraints of the national budget and the overall performance of the economy.

Short URL: http://thechronicle.com.gh/?p=78507
Ghana's External Debt Now $12 Billion
Republic of Ghana President John Mahama.
Ghana’s borrowing streak, which has become a subject of debate in recent days, continues unabated. Parliament was last Friday compelled to approve various loan agreements sourced from its development partners by the government, totaling US$495,788,879.

However, the approval did not escape criticism from the Minority, which demanded value for money in such agreements. Among the projects are Phase 1 of the Kumasi Central Market Redevelopment and the acquisition of buses and spare parts for the two state-run transport firms (Metro Mass Transit Limited and Intercity STC).

Out of the above-mentioned amount, US$40,030,463, sourced from Liaoning Huanghai Automobile IM/EXP Company Limited, is meant to finance the acquisition of 200 Huanghai Complete Built-Up (CBU) Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) City Buses for use by Metro Mass Transit Limited.

A further US$93,433,416, loaned from the HSBC Bank under the EKN Supported Export Credit Facility, is meant to partly finance the acquisition of 295 Scania buses and spare parts for the Bus Rapid Transit System and Intercity STC Coaches Limited.

An additional US$17,300,000, sourced from same HSBC Bank under the EKN Supported Export Credit Facility, would be used to part finance the acquisition of 295 Scania buses, spare parts and related infrastructure for the Accra Bus Rapid Transit System and Intercity STC Coaches Limited.

That notwithstanding, an amount of US$345,025,000 loaned from the Deutsche Bank and its affiliates and other financial institutions, of which part of it (US$135,512,500) was obtained under the SAIN Covered Export Credit Facility, is meant to finance the Kumasi Central Market Re-development Project (Phase 1).

The current loan adds up to the country’s overburdened external debt, which stood at US$11,461.71 million as at end December 31, 2013. Some Members of Parliament, who were not enthused with the short period with which loan agreements were brought to the House for consideration and approval, said it inhibits in-depth scrutiny, thereby impacting negatively on value-for-money for the country.

“It does not enable us to thoroughly and diligently consider it, even in committees, with the best of intentions,” noted the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Sekondi, Papa Owusu Ankomah. He added: “Please, let us give ourselves the opportunity to be able to meaningfully exhaust all the agreements, so that, at the end of the day, when we come out with our report, and we debate them, we can say to ourselves that we have dealt very well with the referrals brought before this House.”

The strategy for the late submission of loan agreements for Parliamentary approval, presumably to avoid critical analysis, mainly from the opposition, has often been adopted by successive governments for fear that it might be shot down when submitted early.

Such agreements are normally brought to the plenary for consideration during the last day sitting of a particular session, where members are busily considering other business of the House, thereby, to a greater extent, escaping the eagle eyes of some members, mainly from the opposition.
20 Factories Threaten to Shutdown in Ghana
Tema workers speak out about plant closings and job losses in
Ghana.
The Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) has stated that over 20 companies in Tema have threatened to shut down if government fails to reduce excessive corporate taxes and address problems confronting the country’s economy.

According to ICU, the shutdown of BTI Limited, a steel company in Tema, led to the loss of over 200 jobs.

General Secretary of ICU, Solomon Kotei disclosed this while presenting a petition to the Mayor of Tema, Isaac Ashai Odamtten, which is expected to be forwarded to President John Mahama.

He claimed the closure of the said companies could affect about 4,000 workers.

He said the companies were facing “constant power outage and water shortage despite the continuous increase in tariffs, noting that the monies of workers in the 2nd Tier Contribution had not been released to fund managers or trustees for investment to benefit them.

According to Mr. Kotei, apart from taxes, duties and levies, which are having adverse effects on industries, the ineptitude of utility service providers had resulted in constant power outage and water shortages.

He said industries have been compelled to reduce production and maintain their workers.

The ICU General Secretary said trade liberalization policy, high inflation, fuel price increases and the dollarization of the country’s economy had negatively affected the country’s economy.

He called on government to immediately review the corporate taxes to enhance the growth of businesses.
Ghana Employers Association Calls Organised Labour’s Bluff
Ghana workers becoming more restive.
The Ghana Employers Association has warned employees from joining en masse the intended demonstration of Organised Labour.

According to the Association, the demonstration should not disrupt normal business activities in the country.

“Some of the employees can attend, and others can stay behind and work,” the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Employers’ Association, Alex Frimpong, told TV3’s Daniel Opoku in an interview on Tuesday, July 22, 2014.

Mr Frimpong’s warning comes in contrast to a directive given last Friday by Organised Labour that all employees including media personnel should join the nationwide demonstration on Thursday to register disapproval of government’s “insensitivity” to the woes of the ordinary Ghanaian.

A meeting held on Monday, July 21 between government officials and leadership of Organised Labour to find a consensus ended inconclusive.

An emergency National Tripartite Committee meeting has, therefore, been called to find a way forward.

“I am currently seeking good advice on how to handle that,” Minister of Employment and Labour Relations Haruna Iddrissu told TV3.

The employers’ association has also indicated it will make a strong showing at the meeting to “as partners be able to engage in talks”.

“We have had some discussion with the leadership of Organised Labour.”
Labour Protests: WANEP Warns of Revolution in Ghana
Workers protests in Ghana are escalating.
The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) is warning of a revolution in Ghana if government fails to address the growing workers agitations and protests across the country.

While the revolution may not take the form of the Arab Spring, Coordinator of the Network, Isaac Bayor told Joy News the powers that be must not underestimate the widespread agitations in the country.

Ghana has been hit by a wave of demonstration with workers grumbling over worsening standards of living.

Fuel price hikes, utility price hikes, depreciating currency with a relatively static wages have conspired to increase the cost of living.

Prices of goods and services, transport fares have also gone up in the last six months, a situation workers insist has made life unbearable for them.

On Friday, the Trades Union Congress, the umbrella body of workers unions in Ghana, announced a one-day sit-down strike on Thursday July 24, 2014 to protest the worsening living conditions.

Even before that demonstration on Thursday, workers of the Industrial Commercial Union hit the streets on Monday to protest "government's bad economic policies."

Radio programmes have been inundated with calls about workers' suffering and the need for government to address the high cost of living.

WANEP issued a statement predicting a revolution in Ghana if steps were not taken to address the grievances of the workers.

Speaking to Joy News, the Coordinator of WANEP, Isaac Bayor said government must not take these demonstrations lightly because they have the potential of escalating into something else.

When asked how the strings of demonstrations could lead to a revolution similar to the Arab Spring, the Coordinator said "we are not nearer to the Arab spring" but "when these issues are not addressed properly people become rebellious."

Isaac Bayor added that elements who may have other aspirations could infiltrate these demonstrations to cause mayhem in the country.

While admonishing the workers embarking on the strikes and demonstrations to be law abiding, he added the duty bearers must quickly pay attention to the workers, dialogue with them with the view of resolving their grievances.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Our Partners Ditched Us In Trying Times, Says Ghana President Mahama
Ghana President John Mahama.
Ghana Web

President John Mahama says Ghana’s development partners have left the cocoa-producing West African country in the lurch, at a time when their assistance is desperately needed.

According to him, the country’s development partners have not been supportive of government’s homegrown strategies in dealing with the economic challenges confronting the burgeoning oil producer.

“It is in challenging times that one needs their friends. Unfortunately, our development partners have not been as responsive to our homegrown fiscal stabilisation policy as I would have hoped,” he stated.

He said government is in the process of finalising the “Senchi Consensus,” which proposes a number of solutions to the current economic crises – poor performing local currency, rising fuel prices, soaring utility tariffs, hikes in taxes, poor power supply among a raft of other problems.

The Senchi Consensus was reached after a non-partisan National Economic Forum some three months ago. Government has been criticised for the delay in implementing the agreement reached at the forum.

Addressing members of the National House of Chiefs on Wednesday July 16, the president said: “This year is a turn-around year."

“We will begin to feel the effects of economic recovery by the end of this year,” he promised, but added: “We however must learn to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. It is in challenging times that one needs their friends.”
Israel-Gaza Conflict: Air Canada Cancels Tel Aviv Flight Over Safety Concerns
Damage and smoke from the IDF bombings of Gaza.
FAA prohibits U.S. airlines from flying to Tel Aviv for next 24 hours

CBC News
Jul 22, 2014 5:03 PM ET

Air Canada has cancelled its scheduled flight to Tel Aviv from Toronto tonight, following the lead of other airlines concerned about rocket fire near Ben Gurion Airport.

Air Canada had a flight scheduled to leave for Tel Aviv from Toronto at 6:10 p.m. ET. The airline will continue to evaluate the situation and provide updates as needed, a spokeswoman said.

The return flight to Toronto from Tel Aviv for Wednesday, July 23, has also been cancelled, the carrier confirmed.

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines suspended flights to Israel indefinitely Tuesday after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed near Tel Aviv's airport, wounding one Israeli.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration subsequently issued a statement ordering U.S. carriers not to fly into Tel Aviv airport for the next 24 hours, starting Tuesday afternoon "due to the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza."

A Delta Boeing 747 from New York was flying over the Mediterranean headed for Tel Aviv when it turned around and flew to Paris instead. Flight 468 had 273 passengers and 17 crew members on board.

Air France, Dutch flag carrier KLM, and German flag carrier Lufthansa also said they were suspending their flights to Tel Aviv.

US Airways, which has one daily flight from Philadelphia, cancelled that flight Tuesday and the return trip from Tel Aviv. It said it was evaluating subsequent flights.

Possible economic harm

Palestinian militants have fired more than 2,000 rockets toward Israel, and several heading toward the area of Ben-Gurion Airport have been intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defence system, but police spokeswoman Luba Samri said Tuesday's landing was the closest to the airport since fighting began on July 8.

Nadine Baudot-Trajtenburg, deputy governor of the Bank of Israel, pointed out that Israeli airlines are still flying.

But, in an interview with CBC’s Lang & O’Leary Exchange, she said any prolonged closing of the airport could result in economic harm to Israel.

“The closing off of the airport for 24 hours is a slightly more important impact. It will depend on how long it will last,” said Baudot-Trajtenburg.

“In this round of hostilities, for the first time in 20-odd years, we’re seeing rockets that can reach the economic centre of Israel, which is centred around Tel Aviv,” she added.

In the past, foreign investment and growth have not been affected by the outbreak of hostilities, but “we have to be careful,” she said.

24-hour ban

Airlines and passengers are growing more anxious about safety since last week, when a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

The FAA said that the ban on flights is for 24 hours beginning at 12:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

The statement said the rocket strike landed about 1.6 kilometres from Ben Gurion International Airport on Tuesday morning.

The notice only applies to U.S. airlines, since the FAA has no authority over carriers from other countries.

The agency said it will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation, and that updated instructions will be provided to U.S. airlines "as soon as conditions permit, but no later than 24 hours" from the time the directive went into force.
U.S. Court Rulings Create New Uncertainty Over Obamacare
Obamacare ad encouraging people to enroll before the deadline in
early 2014.
4:00pm EDT
By David Morgan and Aruna Viswanatha

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two U.S. judicial panels on Tuesday injected new uncertainty into the future of President Barack Obama's healthcare law, with conflicting rulings over whether the federal government can subsidize health insurance for millions of Americans.
The appeals court rulings, handed down by three-judge panels in Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia, augured a possible rematch before the U.S. Supreme Court, which in June 2012 narrowly upheld the Democratic president's 2010 healthcare overhaul.

The twin rulings fell in line with partisan disagreements over healthcare reform, with two judges appointed by Republican presidents deciding against the administration in the District of Columbia and three judges appointed by Democrats ruling in favor in Virginia. The rulings also reignited the debate over Obamacare on Capitol Hill and on the campaign trail to November congressional elections. Republican opponents of the law welcomed the D.C. decision as a further step toward dismantling Obama's signature domestic policy. The cases deal with the government's ability to offer premium tax credits to people who purchase private coverage through the federal insurance marketplace that serves the majority of the 8 million consumers who signed up for 2014.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in a 2-1 decision that the language in the Affordable Care Act dealing with subsidies shows they should only be provided to consumers who purchase benefits on exchanges run by individual states.

Most states including Florida and Texas, which have some of the largest uninsured populations, opted to leave the task of operating a marketplace to the federal government.

But plaintiffs in the D.C. Circuit case, known as Halbig v. Burwell, claimed that Congress did not intend to provide subsidies through federally operated marketplaces. The plaintiffs were identified as a group of individuals and employers from states that did not establish their own marketplaces.

NO IMMEDIATE IMPACT

The D.C. Circuit judges suspended their ruling pending an appeal by the administration.

Administration officials said they would appeal to the full circuit court, a process that could take up to six months, and stressed the ruling would have no impact on consumers receiving monthly subsidies now.

Hours later, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia ruled unanimously to uphold the same provision in the case of King v. Burwell, saying the wording of the law was too ambiguous to restrict the availability of federal funds.

The appearance of a split between separate circuit courts over the question of Obamacare subsidies could increase the chance of Supreme Court intervention. But legal experts and some Republicans on Capitol Hill said the full D.C. Circuit court, dominated by appointees of Democratic presidents, was likely to overturn its panel's ruling or at least revisit it.

The Supreme Court upheld the Obamacare law on constitutional grounds in 2012 but allowed states to opt out of a major provision involving Medicaid coverage. Last month, the high court's conservative majority ruled again on the law, saying closely held for-profit corporations could object to Obamacare's contraception provision on religious grounds.

“Today’s ruling is also further proof that President Obama’s healthcare law is completely unworkable. It cannot be fixed," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement.

Obamacare advocates welcomed the Virginia ruling, which House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said "affirms the intent of the Affordable Care Act: to make quality, affordable health insurance available to every American in every state."

Outside the political sphere, stock market reaction to the rulings was muted for health insurers like WellPoint Inc and Aetna Inc, which sell plans on many Obamacare exchanges. Industry officials predicted that a final decision would take "months or longer" to sort out, with no immediate impact expected on their business.

"In the meantime, health plans remain focused on ensuring stability, affordability and accessibility for consumers," said Brendan Buck, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, a main lobbying and trade group.

FIVE MILLION

Analysts estimate that as many as five million people could be affected if subsidies disappear from the federal marketplace, which serves 36 states through the website HealthCare.gov. Subsidies are available to people with annual incomes of up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or $94,200 for a family of four.

"This has got probably more rounds of appeals and so forth, so nothing is going to really happen right now," said John Holahan of the nonpartisan Urban Institute.

"Some states may jump into action to set up their own exchanges to qualify as state-based exchanges," Holahan added. "Others won't, in which case there will be a large number of uninsured that will remain and possibly grow."

The two-judge majority in the D.C. Circuit case, judges Thomas Griffith and Arthur Randolph, wrote: "The fact is that the legislative record provides little indication one way or the other of congressional intent, but the statutory text does. (It) plainly makes subsidies available only on exchanges established by states. And in the absence of any contrary indications, that text is conclusive evidence of Congress’s intent."

The D.C. panel's dissenting judge Harry Edwards, appointed by Democratic president Jimmy Carter, wrote the majority's judgment defied the will of Congress and ignored the authority Congress vested in agencies to interpret and enforce the healthcare law.

The Virginia appeals court, while siding with the administration, was lukewarm in its support, saying: "The court is of the opinion that the defendants have the stronger position, although only slightly."

(Additional reporting by Lawrence Hurley, Susan Cornwell, Susan Heavey, Julia Edwards and Emily Stephenson in Washington; and by Caroline Humer and David Ingram in New York; Editing by Michele Gershberg, Howard Goller and Grant McCool)
Fighting in Libya Getting Worse
A damaged plane from rebel clashes at the Tripoli, Libya airport.
Jul 21st 2014, 18:21
by C.S. | TRIPOLI

OFFICIALLY Libya is not at war, but for the thousands of residents of the capital, Tripoli, who fled their homes at the weekend it is starting to feel like it. Fighting spilled across Tripoli's western districts after a battle between rival militias on July 19th and 20th for control of Libya’s main airport left 47 dead, marking it as the most violent day since the end of the 2011 CIA-Pentagon-NATO coordinated counter-revolution that toppled Muammar Qaddafi.

Militias from Misrata, some of the most racist and brutal since 2011, frustrated at their failure to capture the airport after a week of fighting with the Zintan militia that holds it, arrived with tanks to pound the perimeter. The Zintanis responded with shells and anti-aircraft fire. As the violence expanded, huge fires burned in the city's western districts. “A shell hit my neighbour’s house and a lot of people left,” says Seraj, a resident of the western suburb of Janzour.  “We stayed inside, it was not safe on the streets.”

When the smoke cleared, Zintanis remained in control of the airport, but it is now a shambles of wrecked buildings and burned-out aircraft. The transport ministry says 21 planes, valued at 1.9 billion dinar ($1.5 billion) have been damaged or destroyed. Brave Libyan pilots have flown two Airbuses belonging to Afriqiyah (a state-owned Libyan airline) and a third jet from Libyan Airlines, the flag carrier, to safety in nearby Malta.

Without command of any troops willing and able to intervene, Libya's foreign minister, Muhammad Abdul Aziz, on July 17th asked the UN Security Council to send military advisers to bolster state forces guarding ports, airports and other strategic locations. He warned that Libya risks going “out of control” without such help. But he found no takers. The Security Council, which passed resolution 1973 authorising the Pentagon-NATO blanket bombing of Libya in March 2011, worries about committing troops to a war featuring a mosaic of competing factions. “Whose side are we supposed to intervene on?”  asks a Western diplomat in Tripoli.

With airspace closed to most flights, foreigners continue to leave the country through the only available exit, the land border with Tunisia. Turkey and the Philippines have followed the UN in evacuating their staff, joined at the weekend by oil company workers from Italy’s ENI and Spain’s Repsol. America has an aircraft carrier stationed offshore in case it decides to evacuate its diplomats from the fortified embassy in Tripoli, where staff took to shelters on July 20th as shells fell around the walls. Almost all foreigners have already fled Benghazi, Libya's second city, in the country's east, where helicopter gunships allied with a renegade general, Khaled Haftar, a long time CIA operative, pounded Islamist militias over the weekend.

Libya's neighbours are rattled. Algeria and Tunisia this month deployed 15,000 troops to their borders with Libya. Egypt closed its border crossing on July 19th and warned of retaliation when a day later 21 border guards were killed by gunmen near the Libya frontier. Diplomats hope, perhaps in vain, that the chaos will end when the new parliament convenes in Benghazi early next month.

Until then, Libyans are resigned to more turmoil. The reluctance of some ships to enter Tripoli docks has meant a shortage of fireworks, which traditionally light up the sky at the end of Ramadan, due next week. “We have fireworks in the night, but those are fireworks we wish not to see,” says Seraj.
'Your Fight Is Mine' -- Letter to Detroit From A Netroots Nation Visitor
Denis Oliver-Valez visited Detroit to attend the Net Roots
Conference.
July 20th, 2014, 10:54 AM

Denise Oliver Velez, a former Black Panther Party member who's now a cultural anthropologist, reflects Sunday at the Daily Kos website on Detroit's image and impact after a few days downtown:

As I prepare to leave Detroit, Michigan, today and head back to New York after attending the Netroots Nation 2014 gathering of bloggers, I'm thinking about the multi-faceted meanings Detroit has for me, not as simply a visitor, but as a political activist, ethno-historian and a person raised in black American culture.

I'm left with a montage of images, some current — dealing with protests against Detroit's water shut-off, which the United Nations has stated is a violation of human rights — and other images that emerge as flashbacks from different moments in time in my past.

Velez, a 66-year-old adjunct professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, flashes back to local jazz legends, Motown Records, Diego Rivera, the 1967 riot and  labor activism of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers during the 1960s and '70s.

Though the Detroit fist sculpture may be considered controversial by some viewers, to me it represents the power and the strength of the people of Detroit, who no matter how many punches they take, will keep fighting back.

Thank you Detroit for having stolen a piece of my soul. I feel like your fight is mine, and belongs to all of us who you have inspired over the years.