Thursday, November 27, 2014

Nigerian Petroleum Minister Diezani Elected First Woman OPEC President
Federal Republic of Nigeria Minister of Petroleum Resources,
Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, has been elected as the first woman
president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC.)
Thursday, 27 November 2014 15:10
Written by Daniel Adugbo
Nigeria Daily Trust

Nigeria's Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison- Madueke was on Thursday elected as president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Ohi Alegbe, spokesman for the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), confirmed the development to our reporter on phone.

She is the first female president of the 12 nations’ oil cartel and was elected at the 166th General Meeting of the organization in Vienna, Austria.

She takes over from Abdourhman Ataher Al-Ahirish, Libya's Vice Prime Minister for Corporations.
Diezani is expected to hold the post for one year.

OPEC is meeting a little more than five months since it last met and it is expected take vital decisions that could reverse the dwindling price of crude oil in the international market.

Ex-president Al-Ahirish in his opening remarks before the closed door meeting explained that ample supply and uncertainties about global economic growth have been key factors in the recent price trend.
Nobody Can Islamize Nigeria – Buhari
Former military leader Muhammadu Buhari is a presidential aspirant
in  Nigeria where he was the subject of an assassination attempt in
2014. He says no one can "Islamize the West African state.
Published on Thursday, 27 November 2014 05:02
Written by Victor Edozie, Port Harcourt
Nigeria Daily Trust

All Progressives Congress presidential aspirant/former Head of State, retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, during his visit to the party’s office in Yenogoa, Bayelsa State yesterday.

Former Head of State and APC presidential aspirant, retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari,  said yesterday in Port Harcourt that  it is not possible for anyone to Islamise Nigeria under any guise.

Buhari, who was in Port Harcourt to seek the support of APC delegates, said those who had labelled him as an Islamic fundamentalist were only out to malign him.

He said it is difficult to enforce a particular religion with Nigeria’s diverse ethnic and religious background.

Similarly, Governor Chibuike Amaechi  debunked rumours by those he called  “mischief makers and political opponents” that the APC is an Islamic party.

Amaechi who spoke at an interactive session with students of  the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education (UOE) in Port Harcourt yesterday,  said  the APC has no intention to Islamise Nigeria if it wins next year’s presidential election.

Amaechi also exonerated Gen. Buhari, saying the APC is a party for progressives who mean well for Nigerians and the overall development of the country.

“When General Muhammad Buhari was Nigeria’s Head of State, he did not Islamise Nigeria, and to do that, he needs the endorsement of the National Assembly to debate over the issue. Buhari cannot Islamise Nigeria. Don’t be perturbed by what our detractors are saying. I am an ardent Catholic Christian and I converse with God a lot. It is not true that the APC will Islamise Nigeria. The National Chairman of APC, Mr. John Oyegun, is a Christian. Bola Tinubu’s wife is also a Christian, Buhari’s cook is a Christian from Igboland, his driver is also a Christian. As a father to all of those Christians, Buhari gives Sunday as a free day to his domestic staff to go to church and worship God. So, no one should believe what our detractors are saying about Buhari and the APC,” he  said.
Burkina Faso's Transitional Parliament Meets for First Time
West African leaders visit Burkina Faso after resignation of
Blaise Campaore after a mass uprising forcing him to flee
the country.
AFP, Thursday 27 Nov 2014

Burkina Faso's interim parliament met for the first time Thursday following the setting up of a transitional government to return the west African country to civilian rule.

A new government lineup was unveiled on Sunday, led by career diplomat Michel Kafando.

The interim government is to steer the landlocked country of nearly 17 million until elections due to be held in November 2015.

Burkina Faso's military seized power on October 31 after president Blaise Compaore was ousted in a popular revolt sparked by his bid to extend his 27-year hold on power.

The 90-member interim parliament includes 30 members from the opposition, 25 representatives from civil society and 10 members from Compaore's camp.

The 25 other seats are held by the military.

Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida, who took power amid the popular uprising, has since been named prime minister in the interim government.

The session was held in a hotel as the national parliament was torched during the violent anti-Compaore protests.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/116632.aspx
Egypt Gears Up for Friday of 'Islamic Revolution' Protests
Demonstrations continue against the military-backed regime in Egypt.
Mariam Rizk, Thursday 27 Nov 2014

Salafist group's call for mass protests on Friday 28 November may lead to a day of violent confrontation; some observers believe the level of potential Islamist mobilisation was exaggerated by the media

As Egypt’s Islamists gear up for renewed protests, fear and anticipation have increased in a country that has experienced four years of unrest and street violence.

The protests, called for by the Salafist Front, have gained attention after months of low-level street activity from supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, apart from protests at universities.

The ultraconservative group calls it an “uprising of the Muslim youth” and a day of “Islamic Identity,” where supporters are encouraged to raise the Quran in demonstrations. The group's demands include the imposition of sharia.

"There’s a war on my religion and my Islam, a war on our values, ethics and identity,” a video that circulated online to call for demonstrations said.

The video listed reasons that ranged from claims of assaults on mosques and immoral acts, to the inequality in wealth distribution and the heavy handedness of security forces when dealing with protesters.

Since Morsi’s toppling last year, protests by his supporters have regularly descended into violence as protesters clashed with security forces or local residents.

Protesters have often set tyres and sometimes public and personal property on fire, and have on some instances been witnessed carrying weapons.

Over the last 16 months, police have violently dispersed many Islamist protests, including the Rabaa and Nahda camps in August 2013, leaving thousands injured and hundreds dead.

Meanwhile, Islamist militants have carried out tens of attacks against churches in the summer of 2013 as well as ongoing attacks against security forces killing hundreds of army and police personnel in Sinai and elsewhere in the country.

But with more violence expected by many on Friday, security has been beefed up, some main roads closed and many churches have suspended their activities for the day.

Who is protesting?

The call for Friday’s protests by the Salafist Front has been welcomed by the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which Morsi hailed and which is now listed as a terrorist organisation.

It is the first time the Salafist Front has acted outside of the pro-Brotherhood coalition, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, which has led efforts against Egypt's current authorities since Morsi's ouster.

"The Muslim Brotherhood treasures the call to preserve the nation's identity, which the Egyptian people including the Muslim Brotherhood fought for," said a statement published on the Brotherhood's website on Sunday. "The Egyptian people won't accept any attempt to obliterate its Islamic identity."

Other Islamist forces, however, said they will not participate, including the Salafist Call and its political wing the Nour Party.

Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, the group that has led most of the violent attacks on the state in the 1980s and the 1990s but later rejected violence, has also declined to join the protests.

Islamist-affiliated parties Al-Watan and Al-Wasat, both former members of the pro-Morsi national alliance, have said they will not participate either.

Ahmed Amin, a leading member of Al-Wasat Party, said his party is not going to participate despite their opposition to the current government because this day “stamps the confrontation with the regime with a sectarian stamp.”

“Any kind of protest have to emerge from the January 2011 revolution,” Amin said. “It is a matter of freedom and democracy, a much bigger picture than what they are depicting.”

He said that the regime might even be “happy” with this day which will “limit the opposition into Islamists.”

“A sectarian tone will divide people while we are in dire need of unity,” he said.

Other groups opposing the regime, like the centrist Strong Egypt party and the radical April 6 youth movements, have also ruled out participation in Friday’s demonstrations.

What to expect

Much of the Egyptian media have warned of violence on Friday after the first statement of the Salafist Front held a veiled reference to a possibility of using armed resistance.

The group's spokesman Khaled Saied later denied any reference to using weapons and said the group was committed to peaceful means.

Some believed the media fuss has over-exaggerated the risks of coming violence, and caught the attention of many who were originally not interested, while others link the calls for the protests with attacks by Salafist Jihadists groups in Sinai on the police and the army.

On Wednesday, a video released on YouTube Wednesday claimed by the Salafist Jihadi group Ajnad Misr has threatened continued attacks against Egyptian security forces until Islamic rule is enforced in Egypt.

However, any direct relationship between militants in Sinai, including Ajnad Masr and the IS-affiliated Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Front, has never been confirmed.

"The media attention to the day has given Islamists false confidence in themselves and what they could possibly do....and has put security on high alert and readiness to use violence," political analyst Amr Rabie said.

Kamal Habib, a researcher in Islamic movements, shared the same view.

"The media has actually magnified the event for the Islamists," Habib said.

He said that the organised groups of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Front may be joined by other non-organised and spontaneous youth who are disappointed by the failure to achieve the revolution’s goals.

“Many young people want any current to adopt their disappointment and to voice their dissent,” Habib said. “The unknown bloc is the most dangerous.”

The Muslim Youth’s Revolt Facebook page also anticipates confrontation with security forces, calling on women not to protest in the streets but rather to participate by “chanting in the balconies.”

Some have criticised the religious message of the protests and in particular the group's call on protesters to raise Qurans during the demonstrations.

The minister for awqaf or religious endowments has said that the call for protests is “sinful” and a call for “corruption and manipulation of religion” and that raising the Quran is a “malicious Brotherhood trick”.

The Islamic Institute of Al-Azhar went further, saying that Egypt is facing “a real war in confrontation with the black terrorism in Sinai” and the call for protests was therefore “treason to religion, nation and people.”

Security confrontation

Since Morsi’s ouster, a crackdown on his supporters and on other opponents of the government has seen thousands of people jailed, many under a widely criticised new law that criminalises demonstrations that have not received security permits.

Sending a clear message concerning Friday’s protests, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said that any movements affecting the lives of citizens and threatening society's stability will be faced with “assertive and quick confrontation.”

“Members of the police and army who face any kind of assault on them or the installations they are securing…have the right to self defence…in using guns and referring the attackers to military courts," Ibrahim was quoted by state news agency MENA on Tuesday.

The police have already started to crack down on organisers.

Sixteen alleged members of the Brotherhood were arrested this week on charges of “calling for disruptive protests” on Friday and were accused of spreading chaos, disturbing national peace and security.

On Monday, the Salafist Front announced that five of its leaders were arrested during a meeting in Daqahliya city in the Nile Delta.

“Security forces should not be dragged into using unjustified excessive violence…because there is a challenge, there has to be extra caution,” Habib said.

Some observers warn that bombings might also take place, particularly if mobilisation is made more difficult.

“Violence has been the hallmark of the Brotherhood (since Morsi’s ouster),” political analyst Gamal-Abdel-Gawad said.

However, the Brotherhood said in its Sunday statement that all "political factions" have the right to express themselves and held security forces responsible for any violence that might ensue on Friday.

The scale of confrontation between demonstrators and security forces, however, will still depend on the numbers of people organisers can get on the streets.

“This is not the battle of the disappointed revolutionary youth who cannot find themselves with either the state or the Islamists,” Abdel-Gawad said. “Andwhen people are made to chose between the state and the Islamists…they choose the state.”

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/116611.aspx
Pro-Morsi Coalition to Participate in 28 November Protests
Members of the National Coalition for Legitimacy in Egypt.
Ahram Online, Wednesday 26 Nov 2014

The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy calls its supporters to participate in planned 28 November protests

A fresh statement issued late Wednesday by a coalition supporting ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL), announced that it will participate in Islamist protests due to take place 28 November.

A lesser known group, the Salafist Front, has called for "a Muslim youth uprising" this Friday across Egypt in order to "impose Islamic identity without disguise."

The front announced it will demand the imposition of Sharia, or Islamic law, and the reinstatment of Morsi.

"Since November 2013, our vision is clear; we will continue our peaceful protest that gathers all Egyptians — Christians and Muslims — as one hand against the coup and against any kind of aggression on our identity," read the NASL statement.

The NASL also warned that they will continue a week of protests in case toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak and his interior minister, Habib Al-Adly, are acquitted.

A criminal court is expected to give its final verdict 29 November on Mubarak's retrial on charges of unlawfully killing protesters during the 25 January Revolution.

Since the Salafist Front's call for protests, many arrests have taken place against members of the front. The Muslim Brotherhood, designated a terrorist group in December, announced their support for Friday's protests.

In contrast, Egyptian Salafist groups like Al-Nour Party and Al-Daawa Al-Salafiyya movement rejected calls for protests on Friday.

Al-Nour started a campaign under the slogan "Egypt without violence" in response to the protest calls. Younes Makhioun, president of the party, said in a public conference Monday that calls for violence are Egypt's most dangerous challenges.

Meanwhile, rapid deployment divisions of Egyptian security forces will be intensifying their presence all over Egypt in response to calls for protests, according to official statements by the interior ministry and the military.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/116544.aspx
Essebsi Victory in Tunisia's Presidential Elections Would Increase Unrest in Event of Islamist Exclusion From Government
Tunisian presidential candidates Moncef Marzouki and Beji Caid
Essebsi will stand in a run-off election  in late December.
IHS Jane's Intelligence Review
26 November 2014
 
Tunisia's preliminary voting results show the two candidates for the presidency Beji Caid Essebsi, right, with 39.46% and Moncef Marzouki, left, with 33.43% on 25 November 2014. Source: PA

Key Points

Each candidate is offering a different vision for Tunisia's future; Marzouki a defence of religious freedoms and check on government power, Essebsi security and the risk of a return to one-party rule.

A victory for Essebsi, the frontrunner, would give Nidaa Tounes control of both branches of government, and dominance of the legislature. Although positive for policy predictability, the exclusion of political Islamism from power would risk undermining political stability.

The election is likely to proceed in a free and fair manner, without significant disruption from civil unrest. There is a moderate risk of a terrorist attack on polling day, including in Tunis, but more particularly in the economically depressed western governorates along the border with Algeria.

EVENT

Tunisia's presidential election will be settled in a late-December run-off election between incumbent Moncef Marzouki and Nidaa Tounes leader Beji Caïd Essebsi.

Beji Caid Essebsi, whose party is likely to form Tunisia's new coalition government after triumphing in October's legislative election, came first with 39.46% of the vote. Moncef Marzouki secured second place with 33.43%. The presidency has limited powers under the new constitution promulgated in January 2014, and can only fire senior officials in consultation with the Prime Minister. However, the President can table bills in the legislature and propose issues to be decided by referenda. He is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and appoints the governor of the Central Bank, the Mufti (Tunisia's highest religious authority), and four of the 12 members of the Constitutional Court.

Election dynamics

Each candidate represents a different vision for the future of Tunisian society. Essebsi, 87, was a leading figure in the ousted regime of Ben Ali, and has campaigned on a secularist platform emphasising stability and economic recovery. Marzouki, 69, is a human rights activist, who as president worked closely with the Islamist party Al-Nahda that won Tunisia's first democratic election in October 2011. He has argued that an Essebsi presidency would risk a return to the one-party state and undermine the gains of the 2011 revolution. Essebsi has meanwhile accused Marzouki, who has not run on a religious platform, of being in thrall to Al-Nahda and other organised Islamist interests.

Key to the run-off will be the division of the 8% of the vote garnered by Hamma Hammami, the third-place candidate. Hammami, 62, is the leader of the Popular Front leftist coalition, and spokesman for the Tunisian Workers' Party. Although staunchly secularist, the Popular Front has a similar anti-imperialist socio-economic approach to Marzouki, and is not a natural ally of Nidaa Tounes. Without Hammami offering an explicit endorsement for either Essebsi or Marzouki, which is unlikely, his support will be split between the two candidates. A game-changer would be the official endorsement of Marzouki by Al-Nahda, which has not run an official candidate. Although this would swing the support of Al-Nahda's sizable grassroots network behind Marzouki, it would also split the vote firmly along secularist and Islamist lines. The results of the October legislative vote - which was dominated by secularist parties - suggests that this would probably cement victory for Essebsi. For this reason al-Nahda is likely to remain officially impartial, while lending tacit support to Marzouki.

Profile of Beji Caid Essebsi

Formerly a renowned Tunisian business lawyer and arbitrator, Essebsi is a specialist in foreign investment and oil and gas law. He held high office under the authoritarian Habib Bourguiba and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali presidencies, and is generally pro-business in terms of foreign investment, including in the extractive sector.

Essebsi is the leader of Nidaa Tounes, a wide coalition that comprises business leaders, centre-right members of the former regime, and centre-left activists. Despite being broadly pro-market, economic reforms mandated by the IMF, such as public sector pay cuts, tax rises, and subsidy reduction are likely to attract opposition from factions within the party. Although these internal divisions may prompt delays in the formulation of economic policy, they are unlikely to drastically change the party's pro-market approach.

Nidaa Tounes was at the forefront of the August 2013 anti-government protests that culminated in Al-Nahda transferring power to a technocratic government. The party's grassroots are staunchly opposed to Islamism in general and to religious interference in legislation. Essebsi's campaign rhetoric has revealed fundamentally anti-Islamist views, inspired by Tunisian liberal Islamic traditions such as moderate opposition to the hijab (head veil), hostility to the niqab (full face veil), and staunch protection for full gender equality. This makes it likely that an Essebsi presidency and Nidaa Tounes-led government would continue the security crackdown on Salafist activism, and in the long term risk exacerbating social divisions by legislating to limit religious freedoms. This would probably be viewed by Al-Nahda as an attack on political Islamism, increasing the likelihood of mass civil unrest in urban centres including Tunis, and driving up the risk of lone-wolf terrorist attacks by disaffected Islamists.

Profile of Moncef Marzouki

Marzouki, of the Congress for the Republic (Congres pour la République: CPR) party, is likely to have the support of a significant number of al-Nahda supporters. Although as President he has occasionally courted controversy, he remains well respected for his work as a human rights activist and dissident during the Ben Ali regime. Nonetheless, his leading role in the unpopular Al-Nahda-led 'Troika' coalition government (with the CPR, and Ettakatol) is likely to erode his popular appeal.

Following the 2011 uprising, resource nationalism has become one of the key themes in the policy discourse of Marzouki's CPR party and its offshoots, the Wafa Party and the Democratic Trend. CPR representatives in the interim National Constituent Assembly (NCA) have campaigned against the interests of foreign investors in the oil and gas sector and other extractive industries. The party was also instrumental in the adoption of Articles 12 and 13 of the Constitution, which introduced greater parliamentary scrutiny of oil and gas contracts. If elected, Marzouki would probably advocate an increased focus on resource nationalist policies, although his ability to affect policy would be constrained by the limited powers of the presidency.

FORECAST

An Essebsi presidency would give Nidaa Tounes control of both branches of government. This would firm up policy direction and predictability, but risks exacerbating civil unrest and terrorism risks should Al-Nahda not be included in a unity cabinet. A Marzouki presidency would be likely to take an activist approach to checking the power of the government, and advocate a balance between protecting the civil rights of Islamist activists and tackling the rising threat of domestic radicalisation and militancy. With secularists likely to take full control of government, this would provide an important political outlet for Islamist discontent, and reduce the risk of mass civil unrest as seen in August 2013.

Significant civil unrest around the December run-off vote is unlikely, although there remains a moderate risk of socio-economic motivated protests in the interior governorates of Sidi Bouzid, Gafsa, Kasserine, and Kef, that could result in minor property damage. There is an elevated risk of terrorist attack from the Jebel Chaambi-based Uqba ben Nafi brigade, which threatened in October to assassinate senior politicians and disrupt the electoral process. This risk is most likely to manifest in low sophistication lone-wolf attacks against security force targets in Kef, Jendouba, and Kasserine governorates.
Europe, Islamism and Tunisia: Carthage, Rome and Beyond
Tunisian voters cast their ballots for president.
Nov 27th 2014, 16:00 by B.C.
The Economist

FOR THE governments of Europe, a long-standing dilemma has recently grown even sharper. Ultra-militant groups like Islamic State are threatening both to attack their interests, and with increasing credibility, to recruit their citizens. So how, in this darkening scene, should European states respond to organisations which ultimately share the IS view that Islam offers the ideal form of governance—but also insist they want to be good citizens, engage in democratic politics and oppose nihilist terrorism? Or to put it another way, how should those states deal with organisations on their territory which hew to the ideology and practices of the Muslim Brotherhood?

Things got even more awkward this month when the government of the United Arab Emirates published a list of what it considered “terrorist” groups; the 80 or so organisations included some that manifestly deserve that label, such as Nigeria’s Boko Haram, and others which are considered more-or-less respectable citizens of various Western countries. Quite a lot of the groups listed are considered close to Brotherhood thinking, though that is hard to prove or disprove.

This heavy-handed list caused quite a lot of consternation in Europe. The Union of Islamic Organisations of France (UOIF in French) which comprises 250 smaller groups and organises a vast festival outside Paris every year, expressed its “anger” and “amazement” at being included on the list. The Norwegian government protested over the fact that one of that country’s largest Muslim groups was named. The British government, which has commissioned but not published a report on the Brotherhood’s activities, must feel doubly embarrassed; it faces pressure from the Saudi and UAE governments to crack down on the Brotherhood and its proxies, but it seems reluctant to use the t-word or ban the fraternity. Some would say that lumping the Brotherhood together with out-and-out jihadis is worse than a mistake; it could alienate people to the point of driving them into the jihadist camp.

So what should European governments do? One of the most prominent academic observers of European Islam, Jonathan Laurence, has a suggestion. Those governments should watch closely what happens in Tunisia—to see whether an Islamist movement can become a law-abiding player in the affairs of a multi-party democracy.

Compared with its counterparts in other Muslim and Arab countries, that country’s Islamist party, Nahda, seems moderate and capable of self-restraint. As The Economist has reported, it has suffered some electoral reverses recently, and has apparently accepted these setbacks in good grace, while still hoping for a share in the country’s governance.

Mr Laurence, a professor at Boston College, has argued that Nahda may be in the process of making an “historic compromise” similar to the one made by the Italian communists in the 1970s. Just as Italy’s Reds hoped to acquire legitimacy by severing ties with the Soviet-led bloc of Leninist parties, the Islamists of Tunisia may be willing to seek respectability by cutting connections with harder-line advocates of political Islam, including the Brotherhood. And if they do so, they presumably deserve a chance to prove their sincerity.

As Mr Laurence, who is also a fellow at the Brookings Institution, put it to me, a good outcome in Tunisia could have a benign knock-on effect in Europe:

European countries don’t face Islamism as a domestic electoral phenomenon. But the presence of Brotherhood-originated networks, and their reach over prayer spaces and imams, is a consistent source of tension. A Tunisian spirit of compromise could permeate the European religious scene where secularists and Islamists are currently scuffling over issues like religious education, headscarves and imam training—and need reminding of their true common enemies who are recruiting IS soldiers amongst their youth. A compromise in Tunisia would also vindicate pragmatic [rather than confrontational] approaches to Brotherhood organisations, which have fallen out of favour because of their religious rigidity and conservative gender politics.

Is Mr Laurence right to compare 21st century Islamism with 20th century European communism? Yes, in the following sense. Some European Marxists did fully accept liberal democracy, and became, for example, the German Social Democrats. Some did not; they continued to plot violent revolution, while half-concealing their agenda and making sham alliances with “useful fools”.  It was not always possible to predict in advance how each Marxist group would behave. That is an argument for keeping an open, but wary, mind when observing the evolution of political Islam in democratic countries, in Europe or beyond.
Cameroon Rescues 16 Hostages Including a Polish Priest

Cameroon's military has freed 16 hostages, including a Polish priest, captured by rebels from the Central African Republic.

Fifteen of the hostages were Cameroonians abducted in September and October in Eastern Cameroon and the sixteenth was a Polish priest, Mateusz Dziedzic, who was kidnapped last month in Central African Republic.

Cameroon's government did not name the group responsible.

However, Mr Dziedzic is said to have been captured by the Democratic Front of the Central African Republic, which had been demanding the release of their leader, Abdoulaye Miskine.

The group had hoped to exchange Mr Dzjedzic for Mr Miskine.

Cameroon's President, Paul Biya thanked those involved in the rescue, including President Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville and mediator in the Central African Republic crisis.

BBC


Polish priest freed after being abducted in Central African Republic

NOV 27, 2014

WARSAW – A Polish missionary who was abducted by armed rebels in the Central African Republic last month has been freed and is doing well, Poland’s foreign ministry said Wednesday.

“Father Mateusz Dziedzic has been released. His condition isn’t perfect but he’s feeling fine and there is no threat to his life,” ministry spokesman Marcin Wojciechowski told reporters.

The Roman Catholic priest was freed after negotiations involving several countries and international organizations, Wojciechowski said.

He singled out the role of France, the CAR’s former colonial power, which has peacekeepers deployed to the country in a bid to stem ethnic and sectarian violence.

The priest had been living in Baboua, in western CAR, when he was kidnapped by armed men in mid-October.

The men said they wanted to trade him for one of their leaders detained in neighboring Cameroon, according to the Polish branch of the Vatican’s Pontifical Mission Societies.

The branch said at the time that the kidnappers were working for rebel leader Abdoulaye Miskine — a former ally of the Seleka, a mainly Muslim rebel coalition that held power in Bangui from March to December 2013.

Miskine was arrested last year on the border between Cameroon and the CAR and detained in Cameroon.

His group had been involved in kidnappings and in May the United States imposed sanctions on him and four others from the Central African Republic.
In Central African Republic, UN Team Investigates Outbreak of Sectarian Violence
Central African Republic IDP camp in Zemio.
24 November 2014 – A United Nations humanitarian mission has visited a town in the Central African Republic (CAR) amid an outburst of violence that left at least 14 people injured and three killed, the Organization’s humanitarian relief office announced today.

In a press release, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) confirmed that on 22 November, a mission composed of OCHA country team members, a representative of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and the UN mission in CAR (MINUSCA), visited the town of Zémio, on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to assess the situation following an upsurge in violent sectarian attacks.

The crisis in Zémio, which has a mixed community of both Christians and Muslims, is the first major inter-community incident in the country’s southeast since the CAR crisis began in 2012.

The violence was set-off following the killing of a member of one of the communities on 5 November, triggering a series of retaliation attacks with grenades and weapons, and leading to the burning of more than 50 houses in the villages of Barth and Bagou, which are located some 40-45 kilometres from Zémio. At least 14 people were injured in the violence while 3,000 people were displaced.

Late last week, an OCHA spokesperson reported that the situation remained highly tense as armed men with guns, machetes, knives, bows and arrows were still present in the town.

“We call upon all parties involved to support social cohesion and peaceful cohabitation among communities through economic revitalization, infrastructure rehabilitation, and grassroots events to promote reconciliation,” Kouassi Lazare Etien, interim Humanitarian Coordinator said, following his visit to several spontaneous internal displacement sites in the region and meeting local authorities.

“Working alongside the Government, the humanitarian community will continue to assist in the creation of livelihoods and to provide durable solutions for the many people whose homes were destroyed,” Mr. Etien added.

The UN humanitarian actors are currently working with local authorities to develop common messages to reduce the threat of inter-communal violence and “to ensure the respect of humanitarian space to allow access to all populations affected,” the press release continued.

It added that a group of senior staff from the mission team stayed in Zémio to facilitate and support the mediation process following initial discussions with local stakeholders.

Thousands of people are estimated to have been killed in CAR as a result of a conflict that erupted when mainly Muslim Séléka rebels launched attacks in December 2012. The violence has since taken on increasingly sectarian overtones.
Dozens Arrested During Ferguson Protests In California
Los Angeles cops attack Ferguson solidarity demonstration.
By Tami Abdollah
Posted: 11/27/2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Police in Oakland and Los Angeles arrested scores of demonstrators during a third night of unrest linked to the shooting protest in Ferguson, Missouri.

At least 130 demonstrators who refused to disperse during a Los Angeles protest were arrested Wednesday night, while 35 people were detained in Oakland following a march that deteriorated into unrest and vandalism, according to police officials.

About 200 or 300 largely peaceful demonstrators crisscrossed the streets of downtown Los Angeles for several hours in the afternoon and evening over a decision not to bring criminal charges against a Ferguson policeman for killing a black man.

Later some of the protesters were stopped by a phalanx of riot-clad police near the Central Library.

Lt. Andy Neiman said an unlawful assembly was declared after some marchers began walking in the street and disrupting traffic. They were ordered to disperse but instead reformed, with police trying to corral them.

Neiman said 130 protesters were arrested.

Meanwhile, Oakland police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said the 33 arrests there came after a march by about 100 people through Oakland streets.

She said that later small groups began moving through the streets with some vandalizing property, mainly breaking windows.

Most of the protesters had dispersed but shortly before midnight Watson said that there was still a very small group that police were monitoring.

On Monday and Tuesday, some demonstrators in Oakland vandalized businesses and blocked freeways to protest the decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

During the demonstration Wednesday in Los Angeles, demonstrators had marched to a federal building and police headquarters but they were turned away by lines of police after heading toward the county jail and then the Staples Center arena, where the Los Angeles Lakers were playing.

"The system is wrong," demonstrator Jovan Brown told KCAL-TV. "We're trying to let everybody know if we come together as a people and unite, we can change it."

There was a brief, tense confrontation where a handful of demonstrators screamed at officers, who held raised batons. One officer struck a woman who had moved forward, and another shoved a protester.

Finally, squads of police boxed in and began arresting around 60 remaining protesters for failure to disperse, Neiman said.

Most of those arrested were expected to be released after posting $500 bail for the misdemeanor. However, those unable to pay the bail could remain jailed through the Thanksgiving weekend pending scheduled Monday court hearings, authorities said.

Earlier Wednesday, nine people were arrested after they sat down in a bus lane on U.S. 101 near downtown during one of the busiest driving days of the year.

There were smaller, peaceful protests in other communities, including San Diego and Riverside.

More than 300 protesters have been arrested over the past three days by Los Angeles police and California Highway Patrol officers.
___

Kristin J. Bender in San Francisco and Christopher Weber in Los Angeles contributed to this story.
___

Tami Abdollah can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/latams.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Veteran Black Panther and Political Prisoner, Sekou Odinga, Released
Sekou Odinga released from prison.
By Gustavo Solis and Murray Weiss
November 26, 2014 8:50am

HARLEM — A Black Panther who spent the last 30 years behind bars for his role in the deadly Brinks armored car robbery and for trying to kill six police officers during a Queens shootout was welcomed out of prison by family and friends at the National Black Theater Tuesday evening.

Sekou Odinga, 70, also known as Nathaniel Burns, a leading member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army during the late 1960s, was paroled Tuesday from Clinton Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in upstate New York.

Police arrested Odinga for attempted murder in 1981 after a shootout in Queens with six officers, which investigators believe was related to the robbery of the armored Brinks car. The Oct. 20, 1981 heist at the Nanuet Mall left two police officers and a security guard dead.

Odinga was carrying a license plate that had been linked to the Brinks robbery and police officers found a bullet from the gun of one of the officers killed that day, according to media reports at the time.

Odinga was also accused of springing fellow BLA member Assata Shakur, who was convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper, from a New Jersey prison. He was convicted of both crimes in 1984.

For friends who think of Odinga as a freedom fighter, Tuesday was a moment of celebration.

“It’s an emotional day for us,” said Yaseem Sutton, 64, a Black Panther who frequently visited Odinga in prison. “I think you can compare it to Nelson Mandela being released.”

But for law enforcement officials, Odinga’s release was a bitter pill to swallow.

“Society says he has paid his dues, but this reminds me of letting al-Qaida members out of jail and they immediately join ISIS,” said Kenneth Maxwell, former FBI case agent on the Brinks robbery case.

“If you think this hard-core domestic terrorist revolutionary is going to be a valuable contributor to society, I don’t think so.”

Inside the theater Tuesday night, a group of about 40 people waited for Odinga to arrive. There were two chairs and a microphone in the front of the room and several rows of audience seating.

“This is a victory to a lot of us,” said Tarik Haskings, who said he spent 17 years in prison for robbing a bank and assaulting two police officers, whom he referred to as "enemy soldiers."

Some saw it as a time for reflection, given Monday’s grand jury decision on the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Mo., which has sparked protests in New York and across the country.

“It’s kind of ironic that after a night of rebellion we have one of our soldiers coming home,” Sutton said.

Odinga and his family members declined to speak to reporters Tuesday.

Members of the audience were asked not to record or take photographs of Odinga’s speech. A reporter was escorted from the theater before Odinga arrived.
Tamir Rice Video Shows Cop Opening Fire On 12-Year-Old
Video of Cleveland police gunning down 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
11/26/2014 2:50 pm EST

CLEVELAND (AP) — The police officer who fatally shot a 12-year-old boy carrying a pellet gun fired within 1½ to 2 seconds of pulling up in his cruiser, police said Wednesday. During those few moments, he ordered the youngster three times to put up his hands, they said.

The city released a surveillance video that shows the shooting of Tamir Rice, who was carrying an airsoft gun that shoots non-lethal plastic pellets.

Much of the footage shows what appears to be a bored kid alone in a park on an unseasonably warm November afternoon. Tamir is seen pacing, occasionally extending his right arm with what appears to be a gun in his hand, talking on a cellphone and sitting at a picnic table with his head resting on his arms.

The gun wasn't real. It can be bought at sporting goods stores for less than $20. Tamir's was lacking the bright orange tip that is usually put on such weapons to indicate they're not real guns.

Tamir's family said it has seen the video of his shooting.

"It is our belief that this situation could have been avoided and that Tamir should still be here with us," the family said in a statement released by its attorneys. "The video shows one thing distinctly: the police officers reacted quickly."

The patrol officer who shot Tamir was identified Wednesday as Timothy Loehmann, a 26-year-old rookie who began his career in Cleveland on March 3. He previously spent five months in 2012 with a department in suburban Independence, but four of those months were in that city's police academy.

Loehmann's partner that day was identified as Frank Garmback, 46. He has been with the department since 2008. Both are on paid administrative leave pending a decision by the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office whether to pursue any criminal charges.

The video police showed Wednesday had no sound and was choppy, showing about two frames per second. What is striking about it is the speed at which the shooting occurred.

At one moment, Tamir is sitting at a picnic table in a gazebo. He stands, and a police car zooms into the frame from the right and stops on the grass, just a few feet from him. The passenger door opens and Loehmann shoots Tamir before Garmback can get out the driver's side door.

It's unclear how far Tamir was from Loehmann when the officer shot him, but Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said it was less than 10 feet.

The low-resolution video shows Tamir reaching to his waistband and then bending over after being shot. His body is mostly obscured by the patrol car when he falls to the ground. Garmback can be seen walking around the car and kicking what is said to be the airsoft gun away from Tamir.

Tomba told reporters at a news conference Wednesday that an FBI agent who was working a bank robbery detail nearby arrived within a few minutes and administered first aid to Tamir. Paramedics arrived three minutes later. The boy died on Sunday at a Cleveland hospital.

Tomba said the city was releasing the video at the behest of Tamir's family.

"This is not an effort to exonerate. It's not an effort to show the public that anybody did anything wrong," Tomba said. "This is an obvious tragic event where a young member of our community lost their life. We've got two officers that were out there protecting the public that just had to, you know, do something that nobody wants to do."

On Saturday, a person had called 911 about a male pointing a gun at others at the park. The caller told the 911 dispatcher that the gun was "probably fake," then added, "I don't know if it's real or not."

Tomba would not discuss statements the two officers gave after the shooting, saying they were part of the investigation. Nor would he discuss details of the radio conversation between the officers and a dispatcher except to say they were apprised that they were on a "gun run."

The family thanked the city for releasing the video publicly and said it awaits the results of the police investigation.
___
Associated Press writers Jennifer Smola in Cleveland and Kantele Franko and Ann Sanner in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.
DPRK Says U.S. Is A 'Graveyard Of Human Rights' Citing Ferguson Grand Jury Decision
Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has condemned
the United States for its racism and repression as exemplified in
Ferguson.
November 25, 2014

The shooting of Michael Brown at the hands of Officer Darren WIlson on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo. has shed an international spotlight on America's treatment of its citizens in the eyes of the justice system.

North Korea, one recent country that has spoken out against the grand jury's decision not to indict the 28-year-old officer to stand trial, called the U.S. a "graveyard of human rights," AP reports.

"The US is indeed a country wantonly violating human rights where people are subject to discrimination and humiliation due to their race, and are in constant fear that they may get shot at any moment," said a spokesman for the country's foreign ministry. "It should not seek solutions to its problems in suppressing demonstrators, but bring to light the real picture of the American society, a graveyard of human rights, and have a correct understanding of what genuine human rights are like and how they should be guaranteed."

Following the grand jury's announcement Monday (Nov. 24), nationwide protests in cities like New York, Chicago, and back to the St. Louis suburb were launched throughout the night.


Specter of Ruin of Roman Empire Haunts U.S.: KCNA Commentary

Pyongyang, November 25 (KCNA) -- U.S. President Obama making a speech at a university in Australia recently said it is the best time to live in history but there are so many threats to the present world order that those disputes have to be settled in a peaceful manner.

Secretary of Defense Hagel at a meeting of those concerned of the military in California said there is no guarantee that the U.S. military and technological advantages that became the basis of the international security order in the last century would automatically last in the 21st century, too.

This is a poor shriek of those facing ruin.

This is recognition of the dark reality in the U.S. as it is a reflection of extreme uneasiness and horror-phobia.

The U.S. is now thrown into confusion as its uni-polar domination system called world order is getting out of control.

Its military muscle and dollar's position that have propped Washington's moves for world domination are now sinking rapidly.

The DPRK's access to nukes and its measures for bolstering them qualitatively and quantitatively have become a nightmare-like blow to the U.S. keen to carry out its strategy for world domination.

At a time when the U.S. was grappling with troubles in the Middle East, styling itself a world gendarme without any ground, many countries put spurs to increasing military capabilities to cope with possible aggression by the world's "only superpower".

Lots of aggression wars waged by the U.S. in different parts of the world led to huge military expenditure, plunging the U.S. already saddled with heavy debts into a bottomless financial and economic crisis.

The U.S. excessive issue of dollars for the settlement of the issues of huge military expenditure and financial deficit is resulting in the steady devaluation of the U.S. dollar.

This suicidal act and wide-ranging use of national and regional currencies in various countries and regions are shaking down to the roots the present international financial system with U.S. dollar as a main currency.

To top it all, the U.S. hegemonic moves have been snubbed even by its allies, to say nothing of the international community.

The U.S. is, therefore, driven to its wit's end unable to handle Ukrainian crisis and other major international issues at will.

As a ruining house has often fights, the U.S. is locked in fierce bickering over such complicated issues as military budget.

The U.S. has now the hardest time in its history.

Yet, it has gone so foolish as to cover up its predicament through such talk as the "best time to live" and "peaceful settlement". This reminds one of the old Roman empire that was buried in history after facing a ruin for coveting for prosperity through aggression and wars.

The poor fate of the U.S. reminiscent of the ruin of the Roman empire is a due outcome of its history of aggression and arbitrary practices.


Minju Joson Terms U.S. Worst Human Rights Abuser

Pyongyang, November 25 (KCNA) -- It was reported that shortly ago the U.S. Department of Justice massively collected individual data on people using cell phones by using a plane equipped with special devices. This "spy plane", which went operational in 2007, has conducted intelligence activities with airports of five large cities of the U.S. as bases, collecting individual data of tens of thousands of people through a single flight.

Commenting on this, Minju Joson Tuesday says:
It fully revealed how deplorable the U.S. view and concept of the value of human rights are.

Whenever an opportunity presents itself, the U.S. is talking a lot about "freedom" of individuals and "democracy".

As already exposed through heinous human rights abuses by the U.S. National Security Agency called "Prism operation", the U.S. is committing indiscriminate espionage, putting not only its mainland but the world into a huge watch network. Human rights of individuals and even heads of state of other countries are being ruthlessly abused by the U.S.

It is indisputable that the U.S. is the worst human rights abuser, an empire violating human rights and an "empire of evil" as it is perpetrating the above-said crimes in a bid to maintain its reactionary political system. Such being a hard reality, it is styling itself a "human rights judge," lording it over the world, labeling other countries "human rights abusers" and using the inviolable human rights for attaining its goal of aggression. This is a mockery and insult to human rights and disgrace of mankind.

If justice is to live on in the international community, it should bring the U.S. to a court before anyone else.


Stand of WPK and DPRK Government Supported by Egyptian Political Party

Pyongyang, November 25 (KCNA) -- The Arab Socialist Party of Egypt issued a statement on Nov. 17 in support of the just stand of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and the government of the DPRK.

The statement said that it is a legitimate right of the DPRK for self-defense that it had access to the nuclear deterrence to cope with aggression moves while condemning and rejecting the U.S. policy for aggression against it.

It said:
It is natural that the DPRK took all measures to defend the country's sovereignty and people's dignity.

The Arab Socialist Party of Egypt extends solidarity to the WPK and the Korean people in their struggle to defend the country's dignity and fully supports the just stand of the DPRK to protect time-honored history and realize the people's desire.

We wish the WPK success in the struggle for socialist construction to achieve the people's prosperity and development on the basis of impartiality, equality and justice and for the reunification of the country under the leadership of HE Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the WPK. 
Service Personnel and People in Pyongyang Meet to Denounce "Human Rights" Racket of U.S. and Its Allies
Military forces of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Pyongyang, November 25 (KCNA) -- A rally of service personnel and people in Pyongyang was held at Kim Il Sung Square here on Tuesday to support the statement of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and mercilessly foil the anti-DPRK "human rights" racket kicked up by the U.S. and its followers.

Present there were Kim Ki Nam, Yang Hyong Sop, Kim Phyong Hae, and the chairperson of a friendly party, officials of the party and power bodies, working people's organizations, ministries and national institutions, service personnel of the Korean People's Army and the Korean People's Internal Security Forces, officials and working people of institutions, industrial establishments and co-op farms, teachers and students of universities and colleges here.

Present there on invitation were overseas compatriots, the chief of the Pyongyang mission of the
Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front, foreign diplomatic envoys and staff members of their embassies and members of the military attaches corps here.

The statement of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK was read out. Then the floor was taken by representatives of the Korean People's Army, workers, agricultural workers and youth and students.

The speakers termed the anti-DPRK "human rights resolution" an impudent political chicanery as it was aimed to defame the dignity of the DPRK and totally obliterate everything dear to the army and the people of the DPRK.

The U.S., the worst human rights tundra and kingpin of human rights abuses, sponsored the "human rights resolution" in collusion with such riff-raffs as the EU, Japan and the Park Geun Hye group of south Korea. This is the height of impudence, they noted, adding:

The U.S. and its followers kicked off the reckless anti-DPRK "human rights" racket by abusing the UN though they can hardly mind their own business. This is no more than an undisguised declaration of a war to disgrace the genuine human rights of the DPRK and infringe upon its sovereignty.

They called for demonstrating the spirit and might of heroic Korea just as the victors in the great years defeated the U.S. imperialists by dedicating their youth to their only motherland.

Victory will always be in store for Korea, they declared.

Then followed a mammoth demonstration. 
South Africa Wants ‘Total Cessation’ of Israeli Settlement Activities
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his
South African counterpart Jacob Zuma.
Wed Nov 26, 2014 10:25PM GMT
presstv.ir

South Africa has called for a “total cessation” of Israel’s illegal constructions, which “undermine” peace efforts in the region.

President Jacob Zuma made the remarks on Wednesday as he welcomed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for his first state visit to the country at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the South African executive and de facto national capital.

"We reiterate our call for the total cessation of all settlement activities," Zuma said. "People of South Africa and Palestine have a strong bond built in the trenches of our two struggles. We want to build even stronger relations and cooperation based on that historical relationship."

South Africa’s former apartheid regime, which cooperated with Tel Aviv, is regularly compared to the Israeli regime by Zuma's ruling African National Congress.

Anti-apartheid hero and former president Nelson Mandela said once that "South Africa's freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians."

Abbas’s visit to the country came at a time when tension was growing between Palestinians and Israel in East al-Quds.

“We are the last nation in the world that is still living under occupation," said the Palestinian president, adding that Palestine should take advantage from South Africa’s "successful experiences."

More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

The UN and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in the 1967 war and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbids construction on the occupied lands.
Moving the Palestinian Struggle Forward
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
November 26 2014 at 04:07pm

Today, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the chairman of the PLO, begins a State visit to South Africa. Our former ambassador to Israel, Ismail Coovadia, talks to Janet Smith about the issues surrounding his stay and the reasons Abbas matters.

Janet Smith: How important is Fatah and PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas?

Ismail Coovadia: First and foremost is his importance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the PLO, and I think increasingly the PLO is taking precedence over the PA because of reunification. This is important also to the Arab world because the Arab world does a lot of financing of the Palestinian administration, and this kind of reunification of Fatah and (fellow liberation movement) Hamas, in my view, will reinforce Abbas’s importance in the eyes of many.

He may then no longer be regarded as someone who is no longer wanted by Hamas, which is vital.

I’m waiting to see if he’s going to make any statements here in South Africa that would reinforce support of those who have not supported him before. It would be important for him to make some keynote address as this is the first State visit of a Palestinian leader. Not an official visit, but a State visit. It has major significance in terms of the way the Israelis see South Africa.

Fatah is a liberation movement however one wants to look at it. Its ideology is one of social democracy and Hamas has actually gone along with this, so this becomes a policy of the PLO, and that plays a very important and crucial role in the development of its politics and the administration of those policies, those structures and what needs to be done.

This would probably work in the same way as it did with the ANC initially. At first, the ANC was just a political and liberation movement and then it formulated all sorts of structures and policies in order to move the struggle ahead.

This is how the PLO – Fatah, Hamas – will probably do it as well.

People working towards that have even been asking me how the anti-apartheid structures were set up. How did people do this work in London and other parts of the world?

The shape of the PLO is an increasingly important aspect. It’s an important organisation with all the ramifications of that process. It’s seen as a major policy-formulating body.

The reunification process between Fatah and Hamas has actually helped the whole process of bringing everything together under one roof. Hamas is now seen to be part of the PLO, and people don’t talk disparagingly either of Fatah or Hamas as two separate entities any more.

I think in South Africa, we ought to be encouraging the reunification, and different organisations and pro-Palestine support groups need to begin to also come together to assist this whole process.

JS: What is the significance of his visit?

IC: It’s of major significance that this has become a State visit because it shows the importance South Africa attaches to the Palestinian cause and struggle and the importance it attaches to the PLO.

That region is of crucial importance now with a State visit. You have a guard of honour and everything else, but the overall importance of Palestine is increased.

This is something people don’t always understand. I know there was quite a lot of discussion as to whether it would be an official or State visit, so I’m glad they were accorded such importance because the rest of the world sees that.

Also, there are a number of agreements to be signed now, and with an official visit, it wouldn’t have worked out that way. With those agreements being signed, South Africa will be providing the Palestinians with material support, and hopefully, financial support. It is also possible for South Africa now, without having to prepare another agreement, to provide opportunities for Palestinians and Palestinian Israelis, to come here to study and for South Africa to provide them with facilities.

So it opens doors. There are lots of areas which one couldn’t consider before.

Education is a very good one. Thousands of Palestinian students go to Jordan’s universities in order to study because Israeli universities don’t accept them, which is, of course, clearly seen to be apartheid.

JS: The PA’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat earlier this month said urgent steps from the international community were needed to protect the two-state solution. What in your view is the current level of threat to that solution? And how can South Africa assist in protecting it?

IC: I think the progress towards the implementation of the Oslo Accords is critical to protecting the two-state solution and the government of Israel’s diversions from this, which we’ve seen time and again. Their actions threaten the very essence of the two-state concept.

Of course, we’ve now had the question of the Palestinian Authority leadership increasing threats to move towards handing over the West Bank and Gaza to Israel to administer, and this should not be underestimated because it has been going on for quite some time. Even when I was in Israel, there was talk about it, although not so openly as it’s now being set.

The threat is very important simply because Palestinians have got to a point of frustration where they cannot see any way out because of the American influence and the American presence in one form or another within Israel. And it is that which actually enhances the position of the Israeli government.

So another kind of one-state solution is being proposed which would allow Israeli-Palestinians to be part of Israel as normal citizens rather than second-class, effectively living under the equivalent of apartheid.

To some, this may sound terrifying, but it is viable – providing a normal government is accepted where you would have everybody voting for a political party of their choice, not on the basis of whether you are Jewish or Palestinian. Then you would have a very interesting development taking place as there would no longer be a Jewish state. Under the current Jewish state, it is apartheid with two classes of people.

Basically, if you talk about one state in this form, it would allow for everybody in Israel or the West Bank, Gaza, wherever, to be citizens of Israel. But this is definitely not possible under Benjamin Netanyahu. It’s not possible for as long as the right-wing Israelis, particularly the Zionists, control the state of Israel and for as long as their lobbyists in the US have a hold over the White House and the Senate.

Now you’ve got a situation where the Republicans control both houses, and for as long as that exists, until another election, those people will control everything. So I don’t see this taking place within the foreseeable future.

JS: Please explain why the support of the about 135 nations for the statehood of Palestine remains a most powerful weapon in its freedom arsenal.

IC: It’s absolutely critical from whatever angle you look at it because support for a Palestinian state, guaranteed, would ultimately put pressure on the US, and that would influence Israel to change its course. Without that pressure on the Americans, Israel will be able to continue its oppression of the Palestinians.

South Africa’s role has been very important, but beyond diplomacy, it is very limited and the increasing importance of South Africa now goes into the area of civil society – intensifying boycott campaigns here and worldwide. This could force Israel to think again and, of course, it can work along the framework of the anti-apartheid process. Here I specifically refer to the set-up at the UN, which has the kind of global presence needed in order to do that kind of work.

That structure is absolutely vital.

JS: Tomorrow, the EU parliament takes statehood to a historic vote, following Sweden and the symbolic votes in Ireland and Britain. France takes the issue to its National Assembly on Friday. Is this a victory for Fatah’s Abbas or is it a nascent victory for all the Palestinian factions, particularly Hamas?

IC: If you’ve seen the proposed set of sanctions, boycotts, etc, that has been put out, detailing which areas need to be developed around these, you’ll know it is an extremely important list. It may not be binding, but it is vital. And so, for the EU to follow through with putting pressure on Israel would intensify the boycotts and campaigns in South Africa and worldwide.

I think their vote is going to play a very important role – and be an amazing victory for the PLO which has brought about civil society pressure. An EU vote would also assist other governments that haven’t yet made the decision, to do it.

I am hopeful. The way it comes across has been done very competently, and the EU would not have gone along with these proposals had there not been the required prior discussion. It would not have wanted to come up with proposals that would be thrown.

So, yes. It’s a victory for Abbas and for the PLO and generally for the Palestinian unification process as well.

JS: As a former diplomat to the region, would you say any progress was made during the recent nine months of shuttle diplomacy between Israel and the Palestinians in and out of Washington?

IC: No, nothing that actually worked. Everything was just on paper and people were talking about it, but nothing constructive.

For as long as the American support of Israel continues, it’s going to be well-nigh impossible to get a change taking place.

There are so many handouts given to the Israelis. Americans are pumping in billions of dollars, but what the process actually means, is that the Israelis get money in terms of grants, aid, in terms of all sorts of military aid, and it’s free of interest, free of everything. Some grants have a clause saying they must be paid back by a certain time and what happens is, closer to the time, you would have American lobbyists going to Congress saying, please wipe it out. And Congress would wipe it out, so grants are paid without any costs to Israel, and this is something that is not public.

This gives Israel enormous confidence in building settlements and in demolishing Palestinian homes and killing unarmed Palestinian children, and then when you have the retaliation taking place from Palestinians, then, of course, only that aspect is publicised, but not the details of what originally caused the problem.

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

The Star
Oakland Protesters Block Freeways, Break Windows
Oakland demonstration in solidarity with Ferguson rebellion.
BY BY KRISTIN J. BENDER
Associated Press
November 25, 2014

OAKLAND, CALIF. — Protesters briefly shut down two major freeways, vandalized police cars and looted businesses in downtown Oakland, smashing windows at cell phone stores, car dealerships, restaurants and convenience stores on a second night of protests Tuesday night.

The crowd briefly shut down Interstates 580 and 980 on a second night of protests against a Missouri grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer in the fatal shooting of a black teenager, but Oakland police officers were able to clear them from the traffic lanes.

The group carrying banners and signs then marched through downtown Oakland streets with police motorcycles and patrol cars trailing closely behind, their emergency lights flashing.

The protesters, some wearing bandanas over their faces, spray-painted messages against the police and illegible graffiti. They then set several trash bins on fire across Telegraph Avenue and began breaking windows in businesses nearby. A least two businesses, a cell phone store and a paint shop, were looted.

The Oakland Police Department estimated there were 350 people participating in the protests.

The California Highway Patrol said arrests were made but gave no details.

In San Francisco, about 40 demonstrators holding signs that read "Arrest Darren Wilson" protested in the Mission District.

Earlier Tuesday, Oakland officials said police officers were ready to stop protesters from vandalizing businesses and highway patrol officers were on standby in case demonstrators try to shut down the freeway again.

"The Oakland Police Department is committed to facilitating peaceful protests, but we will not tolerate assaults on our staff or vandalism and destruction," he said.

As during previous nationwide protests that accompanied the Occupy Wall Street movement and the verdict in Florida's George Zimmerman case, the response to the Ferguson decision Monday night produced vandalism and clashes with officers in Oakland that turned violent in some spots, while other large cities saw relative calm.

Hundreds of demonstrators shut down part of a freeway, hurled bottles, concrete and rocks at police, broke merchants' windows and set small fires, Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent said Tuesday. Three police officers were injured, including one who suffered a cut to the head and a minor concussion after being hit by a brick, Whent said.

No serious injuries to protesters were reported, but 43 people were arrested Monday night.

Mayor Jean Quan praised the 300 officers who were assigned to monitor the protest for remaining professional and showing restraint as they faced the sometimes hostile crowds.

"I understand the anger and the fear that some young black people have about their relations with the police," Quan said. "It's something this city has worked on, and on which we have made significant progress."

A grand jury declined to indict 28-year-old police officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis.

Last year, after Zimmerman's acquittal in the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, protesters in Oakland took to the streets three consecutive nights. They threw fireworks and bottles at police officers and smashed store windows.

Damage in Oakland was even worse in 2010 when white transit police officer Johannes Mehserle was acquitted of murder and convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the slaying of Oscar Grant, an unarmed black man who was shot dead on a train platform the previous year. After that announcement, nearly 80 people were arrested after a night that saw rioters using metal bats to break store windows, setting fires and looting.

Associated Press writers Lisa Leff in Oakland and Christopher Weber in Los Angeles contributed to this story.

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/11/25/4253612/oakland-police-arrest-numerous.html#storylink=cpy
Renewed Rebellion Continues for a Second Night in Ferguson
Ferguson police car destroyed by demonstrators.
Yamiche Alcindor and Aamer Madhani,
USA TODAY 1:57 a.m. EST November 26, 2014

Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri turned over a police car in front of Ferguson City Hall and set it on fire Tuesday night

FERGUSON, Mo. — Protesters torched a police car in a second night of unrest Tuesday, hours after Missouri's governor sent hundreds more National Guard troops to restore order in this riot-torn city.

Tensions rose after darkness fell, a day after a grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer for shooting an unarmed black teen sparked violent protests.

Despite the presence of more troops, hundreds of protesters marched on City Hall, smashing windows and setting fire to a police squad car.

Police responded with armored cars and lines of officers with weapons and dogs. Smoke rose from the street after police lobbed what looked and smelled like tear gas. Protesters tossed projectiles back at police.

Police used loudspeakers to order protesters and media off Florissant Road or face arrest. They announced, "This is an unlawful assembly,'' prompting much of the crowd to disperse.

A single protester dropped to her knees in the road in front of two police trucks. She was picked up by police.

At least four people, one of them a woman, were detained while protesting in front of the Ferguson Police Department. It was unclear if they were being charged. Several flaming objects were hurled at police.

"I really don't know what's going to happen tonight,'' said protester Joe Green, 24, of St. Louis. "I'm not scared though.''

Earlier in the day, Gov. Jay Nixon, declaring that violence "cannot be repeated,'' tripled the presence of the National Guard.

"Lives and property must be protected. This community deserves to have peace," Nixon said.

"Criminals intent on lawlessness and destruction terrorized this community," he said. "We must do better and we will."

Ferguson's mayor complained the National Guard deployed too late Monday to prevent destruction after a grand jury declined to indict officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Their August confrontation touched off nationwide debate over racial tensions and police practices.

The Guard presence was being "ramped up significantly,'' Nixon said. More than 2,200 Guard troops were in the area, up from 700 the day before, to protect homes and businesses.

After dark, as demonstrations resumed in cities across the country, troops stood outside the Ferguson police and fire departments. All but a handful of nearby businesses were closed. Protesters shouted and taunted officers from across the street: "Fight back," and "Please don't shoot me dead."

Wilson, the 28-year-old police officer, made his first public comments, telling ABC News that before he fired the fatal shots, the unarmed teenager "grabbed my gun, and he charged me, and he was going to kill me."

"The reason I have a clean conscience is I know I did my job right," Wilson said.

More than a dozen buildings burned Monday night, other businesses were looted and cars were set on fire. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said there were 21 fires and 61 arrests, 32 for burglary. Three officers were injured in the mayhem, which was spread over four square miles.

"I am deeply saddened for the people of Ferguson who woke up this morning to see parts of their community in ruins,'' Nixon said. "It's a heartbreaking sight. Seniors afraid to leave the house. School canceled. Kids scared to go outside and play. ... No one deserves this.''

Asked why more guardsmen weren't deployed Monday night, Nixon said he would not go into "operational" details.

Mayor James Knowles called the delay Monday night "deeply concerning." He said the troops, under the supervision of a unified command, were available but were not deployed when city officials asked.

In anticipation of more unrest, Florissant Road was crowded with crews boarding up businesses Tuesday afternoon.

Baek Lee took stock of his losses at his shop, Beauty World, which was ravaged by looters and set partially on fire. The store is just a stone's throw from the police station, and he didn't board up the store ahead of the announcement because of the cost.

Protesters and demonstrators from across the country took to the streets Tuesday night in support of Michael Brown, the unarmed teen who was killed by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer. VPC

"I couldn't afford it and I thought I should be okay since we are close to the police station," said Lee, as a crew covered broken windows with wood. He and other shopkeepers were embraced by customers who stopped by and offered condolences.

Shahieda Hudson, of St. Louis, brought her daughter, niece and nephew to help clean up an antique store that was ravaged by fire. "I wanted them to feel they were important members of this city, and that they can share their voice in a productive way," she said.

Belmar said it was unclear whether a body found near Ferguson apartments was related to unrest. He said gunfire Monday night forced fire responders to retreat from a building in flames.

The superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Col. Ronald Replogle, called Monday night "a disaster" and vowed that Tuesday would be different.

Protests continued throughout the afternoon. Following a rally outside the federal courthouse in downtown St. Louis, several hundred demonstrators walked onto Interstate 44, briefly blocking traffic near the Edward Jones Dome. Police said some protesters threw objects at police.

Earlier in the day, the lawyer representing Brown's family blasted the prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, after a grand jury declined to charge the white officer in the Aug. 9 shooting death of the unarmed, black teen.

"We saw how completely unfair this process was," lawyer Benjamin Crump said. "We object as publicly and loudly as we can on behalf of Michael Brown Jr.'s family that this process is broken. The process should be indicted."

Crump accused McCulloch of defending Wilson rather than prosecuting him — of failing to put his "best case" before the grand jury.

McCulloch released more than 1,000 pages of documents and testimony from the grand jury proceedings. That included testimony from Wilson, who said Brown attacked him in the patrol car, forcing him to shoot. Witnesses accounts differed on whether Brown's hands were raised, moments later, when Wilson fired the fatal shots on a Ferguson street, McCulloch said.

With the decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, the St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney's Office has released documents and evidence pertaining to the grand jury investigation.

Wilson remains on administrative leave from the police force.

Attorney General Eric Holder voiced disappointment at the violence and said two federal investigations are underway, one into the Brown shooting and another into the Ferguson police.

"The department's investigations will continue to be thorough, they will continue to be independent and they remain ongoing,'' Holder said. "They will be conducted rigorously and in a timely manner.''

Crump said the problem is more pervasive than Ferguson.

"All across America, young people of color are being killed by police officers," Crump said. "And local prosecutors are putting together these 'unbiased' grand juries that continue to yield the same results."

Wilson's lawyers issued a statement praising the grand jury's decision and saying the officer is grateful to his supporters.

"Law enforcement personnel must frequently make split-second and difficult decisions," the lawyers wrote. "Officer Wilson followed his training and followed the law."

Contributing: Michael Winter, John Bacon, William M. Welch, USA TODAY
Flare-Up: Ferguson Protesters in Tense Confrontation With Police
Ferguson police car on fire during the night of Nov. 25, 2014.
BY TRACY JARRETT

FERGUSON, Missouri — The second day of protests here over a grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown began calmly but turned violent Tuesday night as protesters set a police car on fire and smashed windows at businesses that hadn't already boarded up their storefronts.

For most of the day, there had been only occasional arrests and streets had largely remained clear, police told NBC News. National Guard members were posted near police headquarters but left matters to local officers for the most part.

Then, about 9:55 p.m., a small group of protesters began breaking the windows of a police cruiser on South Florissant Street, the scene of many of the protests that followed the fatal shooting in August of Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, by Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson, who is white. The group tried but failed to overturn the car, but someone tossed an incendiary device at it, and the vehicle caught fire.

About a dozen police cars responded, arriving at the scene from two directions. An announcement went out over a loudspeaker: "This has turned into an unlawful protest. You must disperse or you will be arrested, even media."

The National Guard troops began getting involved about 11 p.m. as 150 or so protesters gathered at Ferguson police headquarters, spilling into the streets. Guard troops stepped out from behind their barricades, joining local police in a rectangular formation with their protective shields raised, trying to move the protesters back from the building and two armored law enforcement vehicles that were at the scene. It couldn't immediately be determined whether the armored vehicles were Guard or police units.

'People are more scared of the police.'

Authorities began spraying protesters with an irritant described variously as Mace and pepper spray. In the parking lot across from the police station, a man slumped to his knees crying and clutching his eyes as others tried to use milk and napkins to wash his eyes out.

An NBC News reporter witnessed five people being arrested and taken into police headquarters during the late-night confrontation.

Punctuated by the sound of shattering glass, groups of protesters threw rocks at St. Louis County police vehicles and several storefronts after midnight. Someone threw a small firework into a car care center, which was immediately set upon by people breaking windows as a thin column of smoke rose from the building. County police soon arrived in reinforced vehicles bearing long guns, believed to be armed with rubber bullets. By about 1 a.m., streets were clearing and appeared to be settling down.

"This is the police with weapons, and it's not fair," said Symonne Sparks, 22, a college student.

"It's saddening and hurts my heart," Sparks said. "All I've been doing is trying to have a peaceful protest. ... I'm more afraid of the police than the protesters, even though we've seen the looting. People are more scared of the police."

The state Department of Public Safety confirmed some damage at Ferguson City Hall on Tuesday night, tweeting a photo of a shattered glass door.

Onni Love, who lives in an apartment building near the street where the car was torched, said the confrontations were upsetting, "but I can't blame them because of the unjust things that have happened in the community."

Love, 36, said she was outside Tuesday night trying to protect her building.

"I'm doing this for my kids' safety and my safety. I have a grandbaby," Love said. "I want people to know this isn't all businesses. This is a residence. I live here."