Monday, March 31, 2008

Florence Ballard Biography Examines the Life of Former Motown Artist

Someday we'll be together

At Florence Ballard's funeral, Motown poured out its love and chaos broke out.

March 31, 2008

Florence Ballard was one of the original three Supremes, credited as the group's founding member and perhaps its best singer.

Yet she was undone professionally by Diana Ross and Motown record founder Berry Gordy, who had her forced from the glamorous trio in favor of Cindy Birdsong in 1967.

Afterward, she was undone financially by bad lawyer-ing that deprived her of many of the riches she should have received for her early work with the group.

In the wake of the 2006 hit film "Dreamgirls," former Free Press reporter Peter Benjaminson, who chronicled the sad post-Supremes demise of Ballard for the paper in the mid-1970s, has written "The Lost Supreme: The Life of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard" (Lawrence Hill Books, $24.95).

It is based on exclusive interviews Benjaminson conducted in the years before her death. Today we present a second excerpt from the 213-page opus. (The narrative of her dismissal from the Supremes ran Sunday and is available on along with extensive photos of Ballard.) This is the story of Ballard's funeral -- where she was upstaged one last time by the not-so-divine Ms. Ross.

From Chapter 23, "The Lost Supreme"

On a winter day in 1976, Flo visited her mother's house, where her sister Linda was also living, and ate one ice cube after another out of the freezer. When her mother asked why, Flo said: "I feel hot all the time." Then she told Mrs. Ballard, "If anything happens to me, Mommy, take my kids."

Flo returned home but her condition worsened overnight. Her daughter Nicole called Linda the next morning to report something was seriously wrong.

Linda was anxious to reach her sister but couldn't start her car until late morning. Nicole, growing increasingly frantic, also kept trying to reach her father, Tommy Chapman, who was working as a chauffeur for a local minister.

Linda was also calling him. "After I kept pleading with him to do something," Linda said, "he finally picked me up."

When Linda and Tommy reached Flo's house, Linda found her sister, who had protected her from a rock-throwing boy approximately a quarter of a century earlier, lying on the floor unable to move. "I had to use all my strength to pick her up off the floor and put her on the couch," Linda said. "Tommy didn't help me. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me in a robotic voice that she couldn't move from the waist down."

Linda, who died in 2007, told Flo that she was going to be all right and called an ambulance to take the former Supreme to Mt. Carmel Mercy Hospital. Linda stayed with the children while Tommy went with Flo to the hospital, where doctors discovered she had a blood clot in a coronary artery. Tommy Chapman said later that by 2:30 a.m. the doctors had told him they felt that Flo was "pulling through" and he could go home.

"Before I left the hospital, she was smiling and had just fallen off to sleep," Chapman said. "About 7:30 a.m., I received a call from the hospital asking me to get there as soon as possible. When I got there, I waited for about 30 minutes and the doctor came out and told me my wife was dead."

A date to remember

Florence Ballard died on Feb. 22, 1976. The cause on the death certificate was coronary artery thrombosis. She was 32.

It was eight years to the day after Flo had signed the final agreement giving up her membership in the Supremes. This may not have been a coincidence. Studies have shown even gravely ill people often hang on to life in order to die on a day that is meaningful to them.

The Wayne County medical examiner, Dr. Werner Spitz, indicated in news articles at the time he'd been told that before Ballard had been admitted to the emergency room, she had been drinking and taking two medications, one to facilitate weight loss and the other to counteract high blood pressure.

The autopsy told a different story. According to assistant medical examiner James Mullaney, the physician who performed the procedure, there were no drugs in Ballard's system except a small amount of Seniquan, an antidepressant.

Although Dr. Mullaney indicated he'd been told that Flo also had been taking Tenuate, an appetite suppressant, and Lasix, a drug used to treat excessive fluid accumulation and swelling, he discovered no traces of these drugs in her system and only a trace of alcohol.

What killed Flo, according to the autopsy, was a combination of heart disease, a blood clot, hypertension and obesity. Mullaney described her as "somewhat obese." A person of her height and weight -- 5-foot-7 Ballard weighed 195 -- is certainly heavy but not morbidly obese.

Ross arrives at funeral

Ballard's funeral was held at the New Bethel Baptist Church. The congregation was ministered to by the Rev. C.L. Franklin, father of Aretha Franklin. Before the funeral began, a group of about 5,000 fans wearing everything from evening gowns to work clothes had gathered outside the church. When a limousine pulled up next to the church and Diana Ross jumped out, the fans booed. Diana's mother, standing nearby, looked extremely unhappy.

It's not clear if Diana had been invited. Husband Tommy Chapman made the funeral arrangements and he died in the 1980s. But Flo's daughters and other relatives said Ross knew the family would welcome her.

Inside the church, Ross marched down the center aisle and was seated next to Tommy in the front pew reserved for family. Taking Flo's youngest girl, Lisa, from her father, Diana placed the child in her lap. The picture of the former "first Supreme" holding the daughter of the deceased "lost Supreme" would be printed around the world. It was the only image of the funeral most people saw, making the occasion an emblem of Diana's starhood rather than a celebration of Florence's life and a scene of mourning for her death.

Every act from Motown sent a floral arrangement. Ross' said: "I Love You, Blondie." Berry Gordy's said: "Good Bye, Flo."

Just as Rev. Franklin completed the ceremony, Ross jumped up and said: "Can I have the microphone please? Mary and I would like to have a silent prayer."

According to Wilson, Ross had not told her she was planning to do this. The two weren't even on speaking terms. But Wilson could hardly refuse. "I believe nothing disappears and Flo will always be with us," Ross said. When she handed the mic to Wilson, all she could think of to say was, "I loved her very much."


As the mourners filed out, the organist played "Someday We'll Be Together" -- a Supremes hit recorded and performed after Flo had been thrown out of the group -- over and over. The crowd pushed toward Ballard's coffin and the pallbearers -- Duke Fakir, Obie Benson, Levi Stubbs and Lawrence Payton of the Four Tops and Marv Johnson and Thearon Hill -- had to be escorted by attendants. The onlookers pressed forward with such energy that the morticians tried to slow them down by throwing into their midst the flower arrangements. The crowd destroyed them.

"It was pandemonium," Linda said. "The fans started jumping on top of the hearse, taking Flo's flowers, trying to get something that belonged to her." When the burial party reached the cemetery, Detroit Memorial Park, only Flo's family, the pallbearers including the Four Tops and Mary Wilson were there.

Flo's gravestone read: "Florence Glenda Chapman, Beloved Wife and Mother June 30, 1943-Feb. 22, 1976."

The only indication of her musical career was a carving of two musical notes between the dates of her birth and death.

Flo's mother, Lurlee, was understandably absent at the burial. She had lost five children at various stages of their lives.

Also absent was Ross. The only person other than Mary Wilson who had shared Flo's greatest moments had skipped out on the last act.

Excerpted with permission of Lawrence Hill Books

Biography Published on the Life of Former Supreme Florence Ballard

How the tour ended for former Supreme

March 30, 2008

Florence Ballard was one of the original three Supremes, credited as the group's founding member and perhaps its best singer. Yet she was undone professionally by Diana Ross and Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, who had her forced from the glamorous trio in favor of Cindy Birdsong in 1967.

Afterward, she was undone financially by bad lawyering that deprived her of much of the riches she should have received for her early work with the group.

In the wake of the 2006 hit film "Dreamgirls," former Free Press reporter Peter Benjaminson, who chronicled the sad post-Supremes demise of Ballard for the paper in the mid-1970s, has authored "The Lost Supreme: The Life of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard (Lawrence Hill Books, $24.95). It is based on exclusive interviews Benjaminson conducted in the years before her death. The Free Press will present two excerpts from the 213-page opus.

Today's is about Ballard's separation from the group as her relationship with Gordy soured and his interest in Ross soared.

On Monday in the Life section, there's the story of Ballard's funeral -- where she was upstaged one last time by the not-so-divine Ms. Ross.

From Chapter 11, "Trouble at the Top"

As Berry Gordy's attraction to and admiration of Florence Ballard waned, his criticism began. "He would say, 'Flo, you don't know how to be a star,' " she said, "and maybe I didn't because as far as I was concerned, I was a person and I had to be a person. I couldn't be anything else. It's frightening to go all the way to the top, and somebody says to you that you have to be a star, that you can't mingle with certain people.

"People, to me, has always meant people, and I've always felt that if I don't have people, then I don't have everything; and I still feel that way. I was supposed to carry myself like a star. I knew I was a big entertainer. I knew I was rich. I knew I was making lots of money; I knew this. I had beautiful clothes, diamonds, everything at my feet; but to me a star is something in the sky, and to me I was a human being."

Her friend Pat Cosby said: "Flo was always her own person. She realized we have to be dictated to in life. There has to be a leader. But she knew who she was. ... Flo never got lost in the fame, as far as her personality and as far as being herself. You have to be a strong individual not to get yourself lost in that."

Flo was not only strong but also ahead of her times. She tried writing songs for the Supremes. "Yeah, I tried; I sure did try, and Berry Gordy said 'Hm, that ain't nothing.' The other girls thought it was pretty good ... for some reason, me and Berry didn't click."

A few years later, the majority of the top-selling hits would be written by the artists performing them. The singer-songwriter became an icon. Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder began trying to convince Motown to allow them to write and produce their own songs. Motown refused at first, leading to major strains between the company and its creative artists.

Otis Williams wrote that when the Temptations formally asked Gordy for the publishing rights to songs they wrote, Gordy replied: " 'What are you going to do with publishing? Who's going to administer it?' (Music publishing involves giving others permission to record or use your songs and collecting for that usage. It can be a very lucrative business and certainly has been for Motown.) He continued running down all the details" and as he did so, he became angrier and angrier. "We looked at one another as if to say, 'Whew! We really touched a nerve with this!' We'd never seen him so angry."

Conflict with Ross

In spite of, or perhaps because of, Flo's attempts to relate to the fans and increase her contributions to the Supremes, Diana Ross' ambitions grew and according to Flo, her treatment of her girlhood friends became atrocious.

Ballard recalled: "We had a routine when performing 'Stop! In the Name of Love' where at the end of the tune we'd throw both arms up in the air. Well, people used to ask me. 'Why did Diana always get in front of Mary, right in front of her when she threw her arms up?," blocking Wilson completely from view.

Flo, by contrast, came to Diana's aid during a Boston performance in 1966. "We were singing the tune 'I Hear a Symphony' and everything was fine with me and Mary; we were singing in the background, just singing back, and all of a sudden Diana began to back up ... 'I feel so little ... Everything looks so tiny. I feel like I'm shrinking,' she said. Our road manager at the time, George McArthur, carried her into her dressing room.

"That's when I called Berry Gordy and told him Diana couldn't perform, she was ill. I had her head in my lap and I was trying to massage her head. And she was just moving her head from side to side and crying. ...

"Berry Gordy flew in, and we went back to Detroit and she went into Ford Hospital. The nurses, when I went in (in 1968) to have my twins, they were telling me how nasty she was when she was in the hospital. But Flo defended her longtime persecutor. "I said, 'Well, she was ill, though' and the nurses said, 'We were trying to be nice to her; we knew she was ill.' They said she slammed the door in their face and carried on ... they have never forgotten her for that."

Occasionally, Diana broke the pattern by supporting Flo against Gordy. "We were going to take some pictures in front of one of the Detroit high schools and Mary and I were deciding which school to use -- Cass, Northeastern or Northwestern -- and I said it really didn't make any difference. So Berry Gordy said something I'll never forget. 'I can see why it doesn't make any difference to you, Flo, since you never finished high school.' So Diana looked at him and said 'Well, you didn't finish high school either, Berry.' It was the one time she stood up for me."

In general, though, Diana attacked Flo and Flo responded. "I didn't take no stuff off Diana. If she said something to me, I'll say it back to her."

Ballard said Mary Wilson "would always tell me, 'Whatever she says to you, don't say anything back to her, because you know what they want you to do -- they want you to keep arguing back and forth so they can get you out of the group.'

"This was the first I'd heard of that. I told Mary that if Diana said something mean to me ... I would tell her to go to hell -- and a lot of other things. I couldn't understand exactly what was going on. The three of us didn't do anything together anymore. The only time we'd see each other would be in a dressing room or onstage. And our rooms were all on different floors and miles apart."

Rumors of a split

By 1967, rumors were circulating feverishly that Diana would be leaving the group to perform on her own. Mary Wilson, in a tribute to Florence's voice and performing ability, claimed, "I still retained the smallest hope that when and if Diana left, Flo would be made the lead singer."

Diana remained a queen to Gordy, however, and Flo sank further and further in his estimation. "It seemed like I was always under pressure from Berry," she said. "I remember we were in Canada ... and just out of the clear blue he walks up to me and says, 'You know, you told me you wouldn't try to stand in Diana's way if she wanted to be a single artist.' And I told him, "That's right ... but by the same token, I didn't say I would leave the group either.' "

Flo's increasingly precarious position became vividly clear to her in May 1967. She recalled: "We got to the Copacabana (in New York) and Cindy Birdsong (a singer who had substituted for Flo on one occasion) was there. They had been grooming her with tapes for a whole year and I didn't have any knowledge of it. They had a whole tape of the show we were doing. ... Having Cindy at the Copa caused me to feel more pressure because it was as if they were saying, 'We're getting ready to put you out now.' I was thinking 'I may be out, I may be in,' that sort of thing. But I was trying to keep calm about it and not worry about it."

When the limousine pulled up in front of the hotel to take the women to the Copa, "Instead of me getting in the limousine, Cindy Birdsong was asked to get in the limousine."

"So I rode to the Copa in a Lincoln that Tommy (later her husband, Tommy Chapman) was driving. Cindy was there mainly to study me, to study my performance. We finished the engagement at the Copa and I don't know which way Cindy Birdsong went after that."

A Supreme for the last time

Then in July 1967 at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, "I made my last performance with the Supremes," Ballard recalled.

Gordy had also been thickening the steady stream of criticism he directed at her. "Berry ... knew how to get to me," she said, "because he always said he wanted to control me and if he couldn't control me, he didn't want me around."

The contrast could not have been clearer between Flo and Mary Wilson, who did everything she was told until the original Supremes broke up, and Diana Ross, who almost always made sure well in advance that Gordy would give her only the directions she wanted to hear.

On Flo's last night performing as a Supreme, she recalled: "At this particular incident at the Flamingo, I had me a few drinks. ... And they kept calling me fat so much until I went on stage and I poked my stomach out as far as I could" -- giving Gordy the excuse he'd been looking for.

Gordy "called me up the next morning and he said 'You're fired.' And I said, 'I'm what?' And he said 'You're fired.' I said, "I'm not' And he said, 'Well you're not going on stage tonight.' I said 'Yes, I am; who's going to stop me?' He said: 'I will. I'll have you thrown off if you go on.' And so it went on and on.

"And then his sister Gwen called and said, 'I guess you know that my brother can't make you leave the group because you have a contract ... finally I said to myself, 'Oh well ... I'll be miserable as hell out here anyways as long as he's around so I just might as well leave.' So I left. They already had Cindy there."

Flo's expulsion from the Supremes in the summer of 1967 was immediately followed by the renaming of the group "Diana Ross and the Supremes." The meaning and the symbolism were obvious. With her major rival for lead singer finally out of the way, Ross could take over. It was the first step toward Gordy's ultimate goal of moving Ross out of the group and into solo stardom.

Motown's official announcement said that Flo had left the group owing to exhaustion and a desire to settle down. A story in the Free Press in August '67 said that Flo was leaving the group for only a month. A story in yet another publication said Flo was leaving the group to go into the antiques business. This cloud of deception would not be dispersed until Flo sued Motown three years later.

Excerpted with permission of Lawrence Hill Books.

Part II: The final act -- Diana Ross grabs the spotlight at Ballard's funeral.

American Axle Strike Update: Solidarity Grows With UAW Locals While Company Post Want Ads

Solidarity with American Axle strikers grows

By Bryan G. Pfeifer
Buffalo, N.Y. and Detroit
Published Mar 27, 2008 12:51 AM

Solidarity is growing rapidly across the U.S. and beyond for the workers at American Axle, on strike at five plants in Michigan and New York.

About 3,600 workers at the plants walked out Feb. 26 against the company’s intentions to cut their pay in half, replace their pensions with a 401-k, increase health care benefit costs, and demand other outrageous concessions that are an affront to the dignity and respect of workers everywhere.

The workers now make on average about $50,000 annually—before taxes—as compared to the $10.2 million in total compensation that American Axle President Dick Dauch ripped off from the workers in 2007. Dauch is also a former chairperson of the National Association of Manufacturers. Other American Axle company executives also make millions off the backs of the workers.

The UAW went on strike charging an unfair labor practice because of the company’s refusal to open its books for bargaining purposes. American Axle is a parts maker spun off by General Motors in 1994. More than 40,000 workers at 30 GM production plants and suppliers in the U.S. and Canada are now idled.

The union—and community—make us strong!

On March 24, as the strike completed its fourth week, Local 235 and Local 262 sponsored a spirited rally and march in Hamtramck, Mich., site of American Axle’s largest production plant, where 1,900 workers labor. The two locals represent about 2,200 workers in Detroit, which surrounds the municipality of Hamtramck. The day’s events were also co-sponsored by Local 412, an amalgamated local that represents more than 5,000 union members in the Metro Detroit region.

Over 20 UAW locals from throughout Metro Detroit and Michigan, representing workers in many industries, sectors and plants, including Delphi, Dana, GM, Ford and Chrysler, came out in the hundreds to support their sisters, brothers and loved ones at American Axle. Other unions and community organizations also attended, including the Green Party, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI), the AFT, the Machinists and the Electrical Workers.

Dave Sole, president of UAW Local 2334, and Alan Pollock of MECAWI told Workers World about a diverse multinational rally at the local union hall, where a DJ spun and a barbecue took place, followed by a spirited march of hundreds of workers around the massive Hamtramck plant. The marchers stopped at several picket lines for speak-outs and then gathered in formation on both sides of American Axle world headquarters, singing and chanting slogans such as, “We are the union, the mighty, mighty union.”

During the march a truck driver attempting to enter the plant threatened picketers with serious bodily harm while trying to drive through a moving picket line. Instead of arresting the driver, cops threatened the workers with arrest if they didn’t allow the truck through, which eventually happened.

Despite this, the workers’ mood was high. They entered their fifth week on strike March 25 vowing to fight on and win.

‘We’ve gotta keep fighting’

Terry Hannon, a member of the International Action Center—Buffalo and a retired Teamster who worked for the Buffalo News as a driver and helper for 33 years, was on the Tonawanda, N.Y., picket line March 23. He has also participated in the UAW Local 846 picket line in Cheektowaga, another industrial suburb of Buffalo.

“I think it’s absolutely imperative that working people realize what’s happening in this country. The bosses are destroying our livelihoods, our jobs, and we have reached a point where we have to change our way of thinking and our tactics as far as dealing with this very, very big problem. And as a union worker and a worker for many years, I just feel we have to get out there and support these auto workers. It’s absolutely necessary,” Hannon told WW.

Caleb T. Maupin, a sophomore at Baldwin-Wallace College near Cleveland and a member of the youth organization Fight Imperialism-Stand Together (FIST), joined Hannon at the Tonawanda line.

“Even though I’m a young person, even though I’m of Irish heritage, even though I may be queer, I’m still a worker. And that’s the primary contradiction in society today—between the workers and the bosses. I am a member of the working class. When my working-class brothers and sisters are out on the picket line, I stand and support them because we’re on their side in the struggle that’s going on. We’re going to be on their side until we win,” Maupin told WW.

Maupin added, “If this strike is won, it will strengthen the unions and open up all kinds of possibilities for my generation because the unions have always been first in the fight for things like student aid, which allows a lot of young people to attend schools, and for better education. If the working class was strong enough we could actually stop this bosses’ war that’s being waged in Iraq. But if the strike didn’t succeed, it would crush a lot of people’s desire to fight back. So that’s why we’ve gotta keep fighting.”

WW also spoke to Patrick McCarthy, vice-president of Local 846, which represents about 600 workers at the Cheektowaga machining and Tonawanda forge plants, and Marty Kuntz, the local’s financial secretary. They said the local receives daily phone calls, donations and provisions from across the country. Every day numerous union members from Metro Buffalo and beyond join their picket lines. Local 846 also has a strike support website,

UAW Local 424 represents workers in Buffalo, N.Y., at a plant that was shut down in December 2007, before the strike. All five plants on strike are governed by a UAW master agreement with American Axle.

During week four of the strike, donations, support resolutions and provisions continue to pour into the locals. UAW members in Toledo, Ohio, brought trucks of canned goods to Detroit. Other regional union caravans are planned.

The Graduate Employee Organization—AFT, in the midst of planning its own walkout, sent a support resolution and $500 to Local 235. In Three Rivers, Mich., where about 800 members are on strike, the local union hall is packed with provisions donated from the community.

All the picket lines are joined by labor and community organizations; some have set aside specific times and days for their members to participate.

Internationally, union and other progressive Web sites and blogs in the U.S., Canada, Europe and elsewhere post frequent updates on the American Axle strike.

Send donations and support resolutions to UAW Local 235, 2140 Holbrook Ave., Hamtramck, MI 48212; 313-871-1190; or

Allan Pollock, Mike Shane and Dave Sole in Detroit; Caleb T. Maupin from Cleveland; and Terry Hannon from Buffalo contributed to this report.
Articles copyright 1995-2008 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Axle posts help-wanted ads

Company official denies replacement workers sought; ads are for expected post-strike openings

Eric Morath
The Detroit News

American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. advertised for new hires in some newspapers Sunday -- raising questions about whether the Detroit auto supplier is seeking replacements for striking members of the United Auto Workers union who walked off the job last month.

An ad published in the classified section of the Oakland Press read in part: "Employment offered to applicants responding to this advertisement will be to fill anticipated attrition replacement openings after negotiations or in place of employees involved in this strike."

Executing a replacement strategy is unlikely because UAW workers at General Motors Corp., American Axle's former owner and largest customer, would most likely refuse to build vehicles with parts made by substitute workers, said Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at the University of California-Berkeley.

American Axle spokeswoman Renee Rogers said the company is not seeking to hire replacement workers but is advertising to find candidates to fill jobs it anticipates will become open once the strike has ended.

"We expect once an agreement is reached, that a significant number of workers will participate in buyout and early retirement programs," Rogers said Sunday. "We are advertising in anticipation of that event and the openings that will need to be met."

Still, the advertisement "certainly raises the specter of replacement workers, no matter its true intent," Shaiken said. "This was either a strategic move by the company or a public relations blunder."

Shaiken said it's likely the company is trying to prove that hundreds would line up for the $14 per hour wages the company is asking UAW members to accept.

UAW spokesman Roger Kerson could not be reached Sunday for comment. But the prospect of replacement workers has angered some union members who are planning a rally outside American Axle's headquarters today.

The typical factory worker at American Axle makes $28 per hour, plus health care and retirement benefits. New workers would likely make much less, as the union agreed to lower wages for new hires during contract negotiations four years ago. But slowing demand for the GM vehicles that use American Axle components has prevented the company from hiring many workers at the lower wages.

About 3,600 UAW workers at five American Axle plants in Michigan and New York walked off their jobs Feb. 26 in a dispute over wages and benefits.

The action has forced GM to fully or partly shut down 29 plants in the U.S. and Canada, and a Detroit plant that makes big sedans is expected to be shut down as of today. Numerous other suppliers have had to shut factories and lay off workers. A recent report estimates the strike has put as many as 40,000 out of work at related companies and is hampering the U.S. economy.

Although there have been discussions between top bargainers, full negotiating teams for both sides haven't met since March 10. Rogers said no new information on the talks was available Sunday.

American Axle this weekend recalled some of its laid off workers in the Buffalo area. Those workers, however, will likely join their colleagues on the picket lines shortly, just as UAW members in Detroit did after the company ended a temporary layoff in the strike's first days.

The company's posturing won't distract the union members from their goal -- minimizing labor give backs to a profitable company, said striking American Axle worker David LeGrone. "I can't get caught up in this propaganda," he said. "I'm just prepared to stay on the picket line as long as it takes to make sure we get a fair shake out of this deal."

Detroit News wire services contributed to this report. You can reach Eric Morath at (313) 222-2504 or

Somali News Bulletin: Guerrillas Seize Central Town; Occupationists Killed in Capital; No Ethiopian Troops in Puntland

Islamists seize central Somali town

Mogadishu, Somalia
31 March 2008 03:27

Somali Islamists on Monday took control of a central town after clashes with government forces that left 11 people dead, residents and Islamists said.

The Islamists wrested control of Buulo Burte town, 206km north of the capital, Mogadishu, they said.

"The Islamist forces were jumping while chanting "Allahu Akbar" after they took full control of the town. We do not know where the government soldiers fled to," said Abdikadir Ahmed, a resident.

Local elders said at least 11 people were killed in the fighting in the town in Somalia's Hiraan region.

"There are eight dead bodies lying in the streets now -- seven of them are Somali soldiers and one is a civilian. Three other civilians were killed outside town," said Ismail Mohamed Nur, an elder.

"There was fierce fighting between the soldiers and the Islamists. It erupted in the morning and appears to have subsided," said Ali Haji Ares, another resident.

He said Hiraan governor Yusuf Mohamed, who was commanding the government forces, fled the area.

"By the will of Allah, our fighters took control of Buulo Barte town and the enemies of Allah fled the town and we are still chasing them," Abdirahim Sheikh Adde, a spokesperson for the Islamists, said.

On Wednesday last week, Islamists fighters briefly took control of Jowhar township, 90km north of Mogadishu, looted government vehicles and offices and released prisoners lodged in jail.

Over the past year, Mogadishu and its outlying outposts have been hit by almost daily violence pitting Ethiopian-backed Somali forces against Islamist insurgents.

The guerrilla fighting has killed hundreds of civilians and forced tens of thousands to flee.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees recently said relentless violence in Somalia had forced at least 15 000 people to flee to neighbouring states since the start of the year.

About 8 000 have entered Kenya, 4 000 went to Ethiopia, 2 000 fled to Djibouti and 1 300 made their way into Sudan, it said in a statement.

Somalia has lacked an effective government since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre paved the way for factional clashes that have defied numerous bids to restore stability. -- AFP

Somalia: Nine Ethiopians killed in explosion in Mogadishu

Sun. March 30, 2008 10:57 am.
By Bonny Apunyu

(SomaliNet) A massive explosion has destroyed an Ethiopian military convoy in South Mogadishu, killing at least nine soldiers and wounding many others.

A Press TV correspondent reported from South Mogadishu that the blast was triggered by a remote controlled device as the Ethiopian convoy passed along the Florenza Street, which connects the Presidential Palace, or Villa Somalia, with district of Hararyale,

Eyewitnesses said also said a military vehicle was completely destroyed in the explosion, adding that at least nine Ethiopian soldiers were killed at the scene.

After the incident the soldiers opened fire on civilians present in the area.

Somalia: 26 people killed in renewed attacks in Mogadishu

Sun. March 30, 2008 10:45 am.
By Bonny Apunyu

(SomaliNet)At least 26 people have been killed and 68 others injured in renewed attacks by Ethiopian and Somali troops have in a Mogadishu market.

The chairman of the Bakara business community, Hagi Ali Mohamed Siyad, known as Ali Dheere, confirmed that many civilians were killed or injured in the course of fresh attacks staged by Somali forces stationed in the Presidential palace in collaboration with Ethiopian soldiers in their embassy near the palace, a Press TV's correspondent said Sunday.

Meanwhile, Somali Prime Minister Nur Hussein and Ethiopian officials had signed an agreement earlier not to target Bakara market, which is a non-military zone, Ali Dheere said, exclaiming that the market had been targeted again.

Injured civilians, most of them women, were transferred to nearby hospitals. The majority are reportedly in critical conditions.

In the meantime, the governors of the Lower Shabelle region and Hiiran have undertaken a joint operation to target rebels' hideout in the Hiiran district, setting fire to a number of houses in an unprecedented move, the report detailed.

The Ethiopian-backed transitional government rolled into the Somali capital in January 2007, unleashing an insurgency that has displaced more than 600,000 people in what the United Nations calls the world's worst and most neglected humanitarian crisis.

Somalia has had no effective central rule since the 1991 ousting of Dictator Mohammed Siad Barre, which plunged the country on the Horn of Africa into lawlessness and insecurity. Press TV online

Puntland: No Ethiopian soldiers in Puntland, says president Mohamud

Mon. March 31, 2008 09:06 am.
By Bonny Apunyu

(SomaliNet) President Mohamud "Adde" Muse of Somalia's semiautonomous state of Puntland has denied growing speculation that Ethiopian soldiers might be deployed in the relatively stable territory.

According to reports, the Puntland leader spoke with reporters in the port city of Bossaso Sunday before he flew to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for talks with Ethiopian government officials.He was accompanied by Security Minister Abdullahi Said Samatar, army commander Ali Badiye and intelligence chief Osman "Diana" Abdullahi.

Mr. Mohamud said his trip to Addis Ababa is linked to strengthening economic and security relations with Ethiopia.

President Muse dismissed reports that Ethiopian soldiers might be deployed in the region to protect the investments of foreign companies intending to explore for oil in Puntland.

A military delegation from Ethiopia was in the Puntland capital of Garowe earlier this month, where they held private meetings with oil company representatives and Puntland government officials.

Thousands of Ethiopian troops are deployed in central and southern Somalia, where they are frequently targeted in guerrilla attacks by Islamist rebels.- Allafrica

Mumia Abu-Jamal Support Demonstration Set For April 19: Statement From Pam Africa


--The reason we moved it is to maximize on the publicity in Philadelphia leading up to the PA democratic primaries. The primaries will be the following week, so by holding our demonstration on the 19th we may be able to make use of the press. Thank you for your understanding, and please help us clarify this matter by spreading the word.

STATEMENT FROM PAM AFRICA, Coordinator of the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (March 29, 2008):

Last week’s court decision was not a victory. While we obviously prefer to have Mumia alive, instead of executed, life in prison without parole is an unacceptable sentence for an innocent man that was convicted with a blatantly unfair trial.

Further, there is still no guarantee that he will not be executed. Also, even if the overturning of the death penalty is eventually finalized, there is no guarantee that he will be moved into the general prison population, because the government has always found ways to make “exceptions” for political prisoners like Mumia.

Once again the courts have held Mumia’s case to different standards than other cases. At the 1982 trial Prosecutor McGill used 10 of his 15 peremptory strikes to remove otherwise acceptable black jurors, yet the court ruled that there was not even the appearance of discrimination against just one of these black jurors!

Judge Thomas Ambro has noted this blatant double-standard with the court’s rejection of the “Batson” claim regarding racist jury selection, and he states in his dissenting opinion that the court’s ruling “goes against the grain of our prior actions…I see no reason why we should not afford Abu-Jamal the courtesy of our precedents."

We have absolutely no faith in the judicial system, but if Mumia does have a court proceeding, we will continue to mobilize to pack the courtroom and the streets in support of Mumia, just like we have always done whenever there was a courtroom proceeding for Mumia, whether he was present or not.

However, we know that if Mumia gets justice, it will not come from the courts, but only from the pressure generated by the people.

Therefore, we will take to the streets with a mass-demonstration in Philadelphia on April 19 demanding Mumia’s release based on the evidence of both innocence and judicial misconduct from the City of Philadelphia all the way up to the federal level.

In response to the recent court decision, numerous demonstrations have already been organized internationally and inside the US. On April 19, with the media spotlight on Pennsylvania’s Presidential Primary Election, supporters from around the world will gather in Philadelphia to take a constitutional stand and show our outrage with this unjust court decision.
(end of quote)


The Power of Truth is Final -- Free Mumia!

International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ
P.O. Box 19709
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180
E-mail -
Web -

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:
Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370


[Check out Mumia's latest: *WE WANT FREEDOM:
A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South
End Press (; Ph.

Zimbabwe Elections Bulletin: ZEC Slams Opposition for False Claims; Results Being Released; ZANU-PF Confident of Victory

Zimbabwe vote body raps MDC claims

Official results released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission today indicate that both Zanu-PF and the MDC might be holding on to their existing seats, which would give victory to the ruling party.

In the southern town of Masvingo, MDC supporters are no longer celebrating, after reports said Zanu-PF had won in areas intially believed to have gone to the opposition.

Bright Matonga from the ruling Zanu-PF party told the BBC he was confident that Mr Mugabe would be re-elected and Zanu-PF would retain its majority in parliament.

Harare - The body overseeing Zimbabwe's general elections rapped the country's main opposition party on Sunday for claiming victory even before any results had been announced.

"The commission notes with concern that some stakeholders have gone on to announce purported results of the poll when in fact the results are being verified and collated," Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chief elections officer Lovemore Sekeramayi said in a statement.

"Those results are not official results of the poll. The official results will be announced to the nation by the commission and it urges the nation to bear with it while it completes the process of collation and verification."

The statement comes after the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) held a press conference in which its secretary-general Tendai Biti said the party had "won this election beyond any reasonable doubt".

Biti based his statement on partial unofficial results collated at polling stations where counting had been completed.

The MDC also said that the ZEC, a theoretically independent body whose executives are appointed by President Robert Mugabe, was not to be trusted.

Sekeramayi, however, said patience was needed while the process to count the results from Saturday's joint presidential, parliamentary and council elections was completed.

"Zimbabwe, we will come back to you with the official results in due course and we urge all stakeholders to be patient and wait for the exercise to be completed," he said.

"We wish to commend the nation for a peaceful and tranquil electoral process. Counting of results commenced last night and as I speak, the results of all the four elections are being collated and will be announced as and when they are received."

Poll results out today: ZEC

Herald Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission started announcing results of the 2008 harmonised elections at 6am today, after undergoing the necessary verification and authentication, ZEC chairman Justice George Chiweshe, announced last night.

Justice Chiweshe said although some voters might have known the results in their respective areas, ZEC was the sole election authority responsible for announcing the results.

"We envisage that by that time, all results would have reached us at the national command centre and subsequently verified.

"The commission is pleased to announce that we have received most of the results and that the necessary verification process is being done. We will start announcing the results as at 6am March 31, 2008.

"We know that the results have been eagerly-awaited both within and outside our borders, but it is of absolute necessity that the results be meticulously verified so that they bare credible,’’ said Justice Chiweshe.

He said the commission had not delayed announcing the results and called on the nation to understand that the harmonised polls were a mammoth exercise that required more time.

"Before harmonisation we would start receiving results on the morning after polling and we would be done in about 24 hours. At that time there were just 120 constituencies but we now have 210 House of Assembly constituencies. In addition to this there are 60 Senate constituencies and a thousand-plus local government wards as well as the presidential election.

"All things being equal, this process should take us four days but we have managed in 48 hours and this is by all standards a record," he said.

Justice Chiweshe said although ward, Senate and House of Assembly results could be announced by designated officers at the voting centre, Presidential results could only be announced at the national command centre.

"The Presidential result has to be declared and can therefore only be announced at national level. That can only be done at the national command centre.

"I would like to reiterate that ZEC and it alone is the sole election authority,’’ he said.

Zim elections peaceful, credible: Sadc observer mission

Herald Reporter

THE Sadc observer mission — which monitored Saturday’s harmonised elections — yesterday described the polls as having been a peaceful and credible expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

The run-up to the polls, the mission said, was conducive for the holding of democratic elections while the voting process was transparent.

Addressing a Press conference in Harare last night, head of the mission Mr Jose Marcos Barrica said vote counting at the polling stations was also conducted "meticulously and lawfully".

Mr Barrica, who is the Angolan Minister of Youth and Sport, urged all political parties that participated in the polls to accept the results.

"These elections were characterised by high levels of peace, tolerance and political vigour from party leaders, candidates and their supporters.

"No violence was observed countrywide except for incidents like the one in Bulawayo where the house of a Zanu-PF candidate was bombed.

"The mission abhors the use of violence in whatever form and appeals for the law to be upheld.

"With regard to the polling process, it is the mission’s view that the elections were conducted in an open and transparent manner.

"The voting process was meticulously witnessed by observers and party agents. The polling stations generally opened and closed at the prescribed times and voters behaved in an orderly manner and exercised their franchise peacefully, freely and unhindered," he said.

Mr Barrica said the elections were held in a "highly tense and polarised international atmosphere where some quarters of the international community remained negative and pessimistic about Zimbabwe and its chances for credible elections". He, however, noted that the polls were peaceful and credible.

He said all political parties and independent candidates held rallies and meetings freely and could openly wear party regalia. He also said despite earlier concerns raised over the presence of police officers in polling stations, the observer team noted that the respective officers did not interfere with voting.

Counting, he said, was also done lawfully under the close watch of election observers, party agents and electoral officers.

Mr Baricca, however, said electoral authorities should also have adequate mechanisms to deal with complaints and rumours relating to polls in order to make decisions swiftly.

Commenting on concerns that some candidates raised over statements made by some service chiefs prior to the elections, he said his team had adjudged that the statements were made in the service chiefs’ personal capacities.

"We thus conclude that, notwithstanding the concerns highlighted above, the elections held in Zimbabwe on March 29, 2008 have been a peaceful and credible expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe," said Mr Barrica.

"Notwithstanding the mammoth logistical challenges these harmonised elections brought to bear on all concerned, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission demonstrated high levels of professionalism, resilience and hard work in organising these complex elections. For this, ZEC deserves commendation."

The Sadc team leader commended the electorate for showing political tolerance by desisting from violence. Mr Barrica urged Zimbabweans to maintain peace.

"Consider the peace of your country. You have to avoid conflict. I have seen war, and you should avoid it," he said.

The Sadc observer team comprises 163 members drawn from 11 regional countries. In the run-up to the elections, the team deployed its members countrywide and also acquainted itself with Zimbabwe’s legal instruments governing elections.

It also collected and verified stakeholder views on the electoral playing field.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Zimbabwe News Bulletin: Anxiety Grips Nation; After ZANU-PF's Anticipated Victory

Anxiety grips Zim

Sunday Mail Reporters

VOTING in the 2008 harmonised elections went on peacefully and orderly across the country yesterday with three presidential candidates casting their ballots in Harare while the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) expressed satisfaction with the polling process.

The only incident of violence was reported in Bulawayo where Zanu-PF candidate for the Emakhandeni-Entumbane House of Assembly seat, Cde Judith Mkwanda, had her house bombed early yesterday morning.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the bombing incident.

"Early this morning a house in Emakhandeni constituency was bombed. We have since retrieved explosive devices. No arrests have been made as yet and no one was injured," Asst Comm Bvudzijena said.

Last night ZEC said owing to the expansive nature of the results from the harmonised elections, including the need for thorough verification, results will be announced from today onwards.

Polling opened promptly at 7am at all polling stations across the country where people had begun queueing as early as 4am and reports say most polling stations had closed at 7pm after clearing all the voters.

In the capital, most queues had disappeared by midday and this was attributed to the increased number of polling stations and booths.

Voters started queueing as early as 2am at some polling stations in Glen Norah, Warren Park and other western suburbs.

Prospective voters whose names did not appear on the voters’ roll were turned away while others who did not have proper identification faced the same fate.

Aliens with dual citizenship were also turned away.

President Mugabe and the First Lady Cde Grace Mugabe cast their ballots at Mhofu Primary School in Highfield while MDC faction leader and presidential aspirant Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and his wife Mrs Susan Tsvangirai voted at Avondale Primary School.

Independent presidential candidate Dr Simba Makoni also cast his ballot in Harare but the event was not covered by both the local and international media as Dr Makoni’s campaign team failed to provide details on where their leader would vote.

Queues at most polling centres disappeared by 11am and voters were walking in and out of the polling station in little time.

The usually busy Mbare Musika bus terminus was deserted save for a few buses as people devoted their time to the polls.

A team of Sadc observers from Mozambique who visited some polling stations at Matapi Hostels after earlier visiting Goromonzi said that they were impressed with the peace and tranquillity they had witnessed during the polls.

In Masvingo Central, polling started at 7am with short queues at most polling stations in the morning. The turnout improved from midday until around 4pm. A few more voters cast their ballots until polling closed at 7pm.

Voting in Gutu’s five constituencies went on well with people starting to queue at around 5am. All 210 polling stations opened at 7am as scheduled and voters began voting peacefully.

No cases of violence were reported in Gutu where a total of 15 candidates were battling it out in the five constituencies.

Election officers Mr Leo Madzimure and Mr Etinos Mudzamba said the elections were smooth and peaceful.

An interesting battle is in Gutu South where Zanu-PF’s Cde Shuvai Mahofa is locking horns with MDC Tsvangirai’s Eliphas Mukonoweshuro and independent candidate Jacob Marandure.

In Bikita, people started queueing at polling stations at sunrise but most of the queues had disappeared by 11am. For the better part of the day, voters were strolling in and casting their votes without any hassles.

Voting was peaceful in the three constituencies in the district with candidates applauding the smooth voting process.

Police in the district said no reports of violence were received.

In Mwenezi East and West, the situation was calm. Voters started queueing as early as 5.30am in the two constituencies and by midday queues had disappeared.

However, at a few polling stations in Mwenezi East long queues were still evident in the afternoon.

Voting started peacefully but on a low note with the situation notably improving by mid-morning.

Quite a good number of people did not vote as they went about their daily chores. Different observer teams could be seen doing their rounds in the area and the electorate was happy with the smooth flow of the process. However, voters seemed to be concentrated along the highway and most were happy with the introduction of the ward-based voting system saying this shortened the distances they had to walk to a polling station.

In Zaka queues were observed in the morning but as the day progressed they disappeared in Zaka East, West and Central.

The voting process was peaceful in all the constituencies and no cases of violence were recorded. By 12.35pm, 79 people had cast their votes at Lundi High while 248 people had voted at Chitanga School.

There was a high voter turnout in all the three constituencies in Chiredzi, including in the sparsely populated Chikombedzi district.

Queues started forming at most polling stations as early as 6.30am. In Chiredzi West, which covers Chiredzi town, long queues had already formed at Chipanga Hall in Ward 3 while at the Salvation Army Church in Ward 4, in the same constituency, the queues grew as the day progressed.

The presiding officer at Chibwedziva Secondary School, Mr Obert Shumba, said there was also a high turnout. Some voters were turned away for various reasons that included not appearing on the voters’ roll and not having the required documents.

A number of illiterate voters in Chibwedziva had to be assisted by polling officers to vote.

In Mashonaland East in Murewa North constituency voting started at 7am with long queues at most polling stations. However, the voting process was quick and queues were moving fast, particularly in Ward 30.

Zanu-PF House of Assembly candidate in the constituency Cde David Parirenyatwa said he was satisfied with the turnout and expressed confidence that he would win.

Voters in Chikomba trooped to polling stations starting from 6am. But several prospective voters were turned away as they did not appear on the voters’ roll while some did not have the required documents.

Presiding officers at Tagwena, Liebenberg Secondary School, Chivhu Community Hall in Chikomba West and Chirume Primary School, Hokonya Primary School in Chikomba Central said voting was being conducted in a peaceful manner with no disturbances.

In Wedza voting was peaceful with a high turnout. At Wedza centre polling station more than 400 voters had cast their votes by 12.45pm.

The voting process was fast but about 80 voters were turned away for turning up at wrong polling stations.

In Marondera the electorate braved the chilly weather and long winding queues of around 100 metres were evident at various polling stations around 5am.

Seven voters slept at Godfrey Huggins Primary School polling station. Zanu-PF Wedza-Marondera Senate candidate Cde Sydney Sekeramayi cast his vote at 8am.

Longer queues were seen in most high-density suburbs. In areas like Cherutombo High in Ward 6, Nyanhewe Primary Ward 8 and other polling stations queues had been cleared by 11am.

By lunchtime, few individuals were seen trickling in to cast their votes at most polling stations. Few individuals were turned away for various reasons.

Voting in Mudzi constituency went on peacefully with no major incidents as voters turned out in their numbers at most polling stations.

The constituency election officer, Mr Alec Navhaya, said voting went peacefully at Nyamapanda Primary School as voters came in as early as 3am.

"Voting went well because voters came early to make sure there were no hitches in the process," said Mrs Alice Chinherera, senior presiding officer in Ward 1.

In Mhangura, Mashonaland West province, 9 000 voters out of the 44 000 registered voters voted while 2 000 were turned away for not appearing on the voters’ roll.

Only nine people voted at Chikuti polling station where 130 people were turned away for not appearing on the voters’ roll.

In Kariba voting started on a low note with short queues in the morning. All polling stations had cleared voters by 11am. Sadc observers said the process was peaceful and smooth.

In Centenary 200 people had cast their votes by 10am at Gatu polling station. At least 28 voters were turned away for various reasons.

In Chakari and Chegutu voting started on schedule and was peaceful.

However, voter turnout was low and at polling stations where there was improved turnouts the queues were cleared by midday.

In Karoi urban, voting started on schedule at 7am with few voters casting their ballots in the low-density areas where people were simply walking into the polling stations and voting.

Voting started peacefully in Sanyati constituency for the elections with large numbers of prospective voters thronging the polling stations. Long queues could be seen as early as 6.30am at some polling stations but these had become shorter in the afternoon. Voters interviewed were happy with the manner with which the polling was being conducted.

However, some were turned away for various reasons that included failure to produce the required documents or not being on the voters’ roll.

Sanyati constituency elections officer Mr Phineas Mutyavavire said voting was going on smoothly in the constituency and that all polling stations had opened on time.

Scores of people thronged polling stations in the Mhondoro-Mubaira constituency as early 5.30am and voting began in earnest at 7am.

The constituency had five polling stations but two of the stations — St Jones Mataruse Primary School and Rukuma Business Centre — temporarily ran out of ballot papers. At St Jones only Senate ballot papers ran out while at Rukuma Business Centre all ballot papers ran out around midday. The situation was, however, rectified about two hours later with the delivery of a new consignment.

Mr Bright Kaungwa of the MDC anti-Senate faction is contesting Cde Sylvester Nguni of Zanu-PF and Mr Christopher Monera of the MDC pro-Senate faction.

Voting in Hurungwe West and Hurungwe Central constituencies closed at 7pm and was immediately followed by the verification process.

Voters in Hurungwe West were at polling stations as early as 3am. Long queues were observed in the afternoon at Zvipani and Zvimonja primary schools.

Zanu-PF chief election agent in the constituency Cde Robert Tichareva was happy with the process, adding polling was peaceful.

Queues at most polling stations around Shamva were short and most registered voters had cast their votes by 10am.

District election officer for Shamva Mr Cuthbert Mhishi said the many polling stations ensured voters spent less time voting.

In Guruve North voters started queueing as early as 3am. At least 900 people were seen at the polling station at Gwakwe Primary School.

Members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church did not cast their votes citing religious beliefs. Among other things, the elder of the church in the area, Jabulani Chimbadzo, said voting was against their church principles.

"The truth is we are not supposed to vote because we are apolitical and believe in keeping the Sabbath Day holy. God crowns national leaders, so whoever comes to power is God’s plan," he said.

In Rushinga voting was also peaceful as people turned out in large numbers to cast their votes.

Although figures could not be immediately obtained, most people had cast their votes in the morning and by 1pm most queues had disappeared.

In Gokwe Nembudziya voting started on a high note with a large turnout at the polling stations where long queues began forming long before opening time.

Voters could be seen arriving at different centres in open trucks, lorries and even scotchcarts.

Cde Flora Buka of Zanu-PF is being challenged by Mr Josphat Mahachi of the MDC Mutambara faction.

Cde Buka said she was confident of a landslide victory based on the various developmental projects she embarked on in the province.

"We are confident of victory judging by the massive turnout at our rallies coupled with a divided opposition and the various developmental projects we have been doing in the area."

In the other Gokwe constituencies, voting started early in the morning in Gokwe Matsingautsi, Gokwe Central and Gokwe Sesane with long queues at polling stations.

At most polling stations an average of 200 voters had cast their votes by 2pm.

Presiding officer Mr Douglas Chibvongodze said there no problems had been experienced in the voting process.

In Headlands, Manicaland, polling stations opened their doors at 7am. Zanu-PF candidate Cde Didymus Mutasa was optimistic of retaining the seat.

After Zanu-PF’s anticipated March 2008 victory

AFRICAN FOCUS By Tafataona P. Mahoso

THE anticipated convincing victory of the Zimbabwe African National Union — Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) in the 2008 harmonised elections was based on two factors: a concrete programme of action based on a convincing historical record full of tangible results and achievements which the opposition’s propaganda onslaught could distort but never delete; and a coherent value system (ideology) based on the same history and clearly consistent with the programme of action.

Although the MDC was poised to come in second to Zanu-PF in the same elections, it no longer presents the main challenge to Zimbabwe’s independence and sovereignty which it represented (as a proxy for imperialism) in 2000, 2002 and 2005. The MDC’s performance, however significant in terms of numbers, represents a decline that will eventually lead to near-extinction.

This is because the MDC at its formation was premised on the presumed dominance of a labour movement collaborating with foreign companies and the Rhodesian land-owning oligarchy at the very same time that structural adjustment was decimating workers and turning them into petty traders and tuckshop operators.

To make matter worse, the African liberation movement was targeting the other base, the Rhodesian oligarchy, with demands for land reclamation and repossession. These facts combined with the MDC’s open collaboration with the UK, the US and the EU against Zimbabwe meant that the MDC did not have a long future.

In other words, the MDC based itself on three shaky foundations: the presumed, permanent and global dominance of the Anglo-Saxon world; the continued dominance of the Rhodesian landed oligarchy; and the continued growth of industrial labour.

The presumed global dominance of the Anglo-Saxon world was already in serious doubt as the MDC was being launched in 1999, because of the emergence of China, India, Russia, Brazil and others.

The presumed permanence and dominance of the Rhodesian-landed oligarchy was soon to be dislodged by peasants and war veterans. The presumed growth of labour was a miscalculation since structural adjustment had started in other countries as far back as 1980.

In other words, given the material foundations and the ideological concepts on which the MDC based itself, it can no longer be regarded as the main challenge for the future. It is therefore the Simba Makoni model which should be seen as representing a future challenge to the ideals of sovereignty, independence, autonomy, indigenisation and empowerment.

Where the MDC pretended to be based on workers, civil society, students, farmers and women — Makoni has discarded all these and assumed the narcissistic posture of RenĂ© Descartes: "I think, therefore I am."

Makoni is being used to repackage structural adjustment as "consultation with stakeholders". What he means is that, if the people of Zimbabwe were ever to allow him to win the presidential vote, he would go back to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, USAID, Sida, Norad, Danida, CZI, ZNCC and others. He would ask them how they would like the economy of Zimbabwe to be run and for whom.

They would not take time to lift sanctions and to put in place a blueprint for everything. Even his cabinet would come from technocrats and managers already acceptable to these "stakeholders". That is why it is totally unnecessary for Makoni to have a political party or movement. That is why for him everything about the future of Zimbabwe is simple and straightforward.

In other words, Makoni represents a very seductive approach based on imperialist assumptions about the effects of sanctions. The MDC and the sanctions were meant to soften the population through economic terrorism via sanctions and real violence via stayaways and bombings. It is now assumed that the people and the Government are now so tired and so hungry that they will welcome any smiling face which promises pie in the sky through capitulation to all the key demands of Western corporate interests.

This is tempting because there are some within Zanu-PF who believe what Makoni promises. In fact, that sort of belief was the basis for the temporary adoption of the structural adjustment programme between 1989 and 2001.

Makoni therefore appears as a man who has no ideology, no political party and no movement, exactly because the ideology was there and is there from the introduction of structural adjustment. The blueprint is also there and it has not worked as expected in those countries where it was accepted — Kenya and Cote d'Ivoire being recent cases.

Makoni is saying the future Government of Zimbabwe will need only to declare that it will be a good manager for Western interests and those interests have assured him they will "re-engage" Zimbabwe and do the rest on "behalf of the people".

Makoni is not only a "private" presidential candidate; he also stands for rampant "privatisation" in opposition to what he calls the command economy and command politics. These are euphemisms for strong government, for independence and sovereignty.

The majority of the people are crying out for remaining State enterprises such as the GMB, CSC, National Railways and Zupco to expand their capacities and services, but a significant number of so-called "technocrats" within the economic ministries and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe continue to demand the privatisation of such parastatals.

This demand for privatising and selling off more State enterprises is being made even as the same State is being forced by the current crisis to create more State enterprises and parastatals in order to intervene in the same "market" which is demanding more deregulation and privatisation.

The extent to which the World Bank, the IMF and "economic experts" deceived Zimbabweans about SAP can be shown by reading the magazine Social Change and Development No. 28 of 1992 and the Megabuck magazine issue of March 2000.

The whole issue of Social Change and Development was dedicated to the coverage of a national workshop on SAP. The majority of speakers at that workshop, including the Government representative and the then secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, accepted the basic claims made by economists about SAP and neoliberal economics.

They differed only on tactics to be adopted in the case of Zimbabwe. In other words, those who now lead the MDC agreed with the Government that the SAP recipe would produce a big cake as promised by economists. They differed mainly on how the cake should be sliced between the workers in ZCTU and the rest of the nation.

The paper summed up the wonderful rewards which economic experts, big business, the World Bank and the IMF said Zimbabwe would reap upon adoption of Esap, as follows:

-Many more jobs will be created;
-Many more companies will be started (especially in the expanding export sector);
-People will pay less tax;
-There will be no more shortages;
-There will not be any foreign currency problems (people would just walk into any bank and get hard currency on demand);
-People will be able to buy anything in Zimbabwe that they can buy anywhere else in the world; and
-Retrenched workers will be retrained and get new jobs in new companies which will result from the growth of privatised enterprises.

We do not have to ask readers whether or not these promises were fulfiled. The Government’s denunciation of SAP in 2001 was a reflection not only of the fact that these promised results were false but also that the Government refused to accept the Esap prescription for almost 10 years.

When it finally agreed to try the programme, there was already immense pressure and lobbying especially from the private sector using supposedly "scientific evidence" from economic "experts" about the way Esap was inevitable and the way it would unlock the gates to universal national prosperity.

While most Zimbabweans now agree that they were misled, there is little discussion of the main "misleading" field of "expertise" called economics, especially university economics. What this story reveals is the dangerous power of those who can employ armies of "professional experts" in order to change the destinies of entire nations.

The SAP was successfully marketed through the media as a techno-scientific, neutral, benign and inevitable scheme and its enforcement became more fanatical and zealous as failure became the only option.

As Jeremy Seabrook wrote in Victims of Development: "The Western economic system is an ideological construct . . . Economics in neither science nor art, but ideology.

Its system of accounting is extremely selective about what it includes and what it omits, in terms of both costs and benefits, profits and forfeits, advantages and penalties.

This partial and fragmented view of human affairs is now the focus of evangelising fervour by Western governments and financial institutions."

How exactly has neoliberal ideology operated in Zimbabwe? Like the mediaeval church ideology it has replaced, neoliberalism has created, falsified and promoted simplistic dichotomies. It creates a series of straw-men or "others" which it then demolishes in order to fake its superiority.

The feudal system of class oppression and exploitation was based on the following dichotomies, among others:

-Superior birth versus inferior birth;
-Nobility/aristocracy versus peasantry or serfdom;
-Superior lineage versus peasant or serf descent;
-Divine right to rule versus inherent obligation to serve; and
-Superior service or career versus rigid position of servitude.

Neoliberalism has created and popularised its own binary opposites which are just as arbitrary and oppressive as those of feudalism.

They include the following, for example:

-Civil society versus state;
-Personal choice versus community oppression;
-Free entrepreneur versus control freak;
-Free enterprise versus state monopoly;
-Individual initiative versus collective stagnation;
-Expert/technocrat versus ideologue;
-Entrepreneur versus bureaucrat;
-Good governance versus corruption;
-Open society versus closed society; and
-Corporate transparency versus state secrecy and corruption.

Now, as in mediaeval times, these binary labels do not in reality mean what they claim to mean. The Daily Gazette, The Financial Gazette, The Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard were among the vehicles used to promote the neoliberal catechism in the 1990s.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Another Look at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: PANW Editor in Special Broadcast on CKLN in Toronto at Noon

Another Look at Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Norman (Otis) Richmond

Special Broadcast With Abayomi Azikiwe at Noon on CKLN, FM 88.1 in Toronoto. Just click on the following URL to hear:

The Nation of Islam’s leader, Minister Louis Farrakhan, was guaranteed a laugh everytime he spoke of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “Don’t you know that a man who has a dream is asleep?” he would say.

Dr. King delivered his most famous “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963 at the March on Washington D.C. By April 4th 1967, he was singing a different song. Dr.King’s dream moved closer to El-Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X’s) nightmare.

The corporate press had frozen Dr. King in 1963. The progressive movements in the United States and around the world however, have brought to light how King’s position shifted to the left.

By the time of his assassination on April 4, 1968, King was opposing the war in Vietnam and supporting struggling sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee.

Contrary to popular belief, King was not the first African American leader to oppose the war. Malcolm X was. Malcolm X was followed by the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, (SNCC), and the Black Panther Party, which spoke out before King.

Muhammad Ahmad’s (Maxwell Stanford, Jr.), We Will Return in the Whirlwind (Black Radical Organizations 1960-1975) and Kwame Ture’s (Stokely Carmichael) Ready for Revolution: The Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), documents how RAM and SNCC came to oppose the illegal war in Vietnam.

There are many facts about King’s life that are not widely known to today’s African youth. One example is that he visited Africa before Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad. Kwame Nkrumah invited King to Ghana’s independence celebration on March 6, 1957. Malcolm X’s first visited Egypt in 1959.

King was light years ahead of his contemporaries on the South African question. It must be understood that the masses of Africans in the Western Hemisphere embraced Pan-Africanism in the 1970s.

President of the African National Congress, Chief Albert Lutuli-- won the Noble Peace Prize in 1960-- and Dr. King wrote an “Appeal for Action Against Apartheid” in 1962.

King had a special relationship with Jamaica. It must never be forgotten that Kingston, Jamaica and Atlanta, Georgia were twin cities at one point during the 1960s. Several of his books where written in Jamaica. In 1965, King spoke in Kingston. While in Kingston he visited Garvey’s grave and paid tribute to the great African nationalist.

My comrade, Milton Blake (former host of the Musical Triangle who recently joined the ancestors) told me that when King spoke in Jamaica he (Blake) was nursing a broken leg. He heard the speech on the radio and later read it in the local press. He memorized the speech and at a recent CKLN FM 88.1 fundraising drive, he recited some of it for of his listeners.

Following that address, King dropped in unexpectedly, to the pleasure of all 500 present, at a reception at home of the USAID director. The following day, he visited the grave of National Hero Marcus Garvey to lay a wreath out of respect for a man he said, “gave “Negroes” in the US a sense of dignity, a "sense of personhood, a sense of manhood, a sense of somebodiness".

Muhammad Ahmad, Kwame Ture, and Minister Louis Farrakhan, had to take a second look at King.

King never claimed to be a Marxist but had read some Marx and was fiercely anti-capitalist. According to Stephen B. Oates historian/scholar during the Christmas holidays of 1949, Dr. King spent his spare time reading Karl Marx.

He “carefully scrutinized” Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto and several interpretive studies of Marx and Lenin. Marxism-Leninism clashed with his Christian worldview, however.

Oates goes on to say that King, “thought Marx correct in much of his criticism in Das Kapital, which underscored for King the danger of constructing a system on the sole motive of profit.”

If King was among us today it is safe to say he would oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He probably would attempt to broaden the anti-war movement to take an active role in the wars on the Africa continent.

We know that he would chastize Western governments for their imperialist role in the Caribbean. It is safe to say that King would be on the side of the movement for reparations.

Remember, he hinted at this in his “I Have a Dream” speech. “It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honouring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

While King spoke for Africans at home and aboard he also supported the liberation of all oppressed people. One of my favourite quotes from Dr. King is: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

A Different Book List will present Michael Eric Dyson author of a new volume APRIL 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Death and How it Changed America on April 21st.

Abayomi Azikiwe editor of the Pan-African New Wire will discuss the legacy of Dr. King 40 years later on Saturday Morning Live , March 29th at 12pm on CKLN-FM 88.1.

Asanta Sana From Assata Shakur: A New Message From Revolutionary Cuba

Asante Sana from Assata Shakur

First of all, let me say thank you, to the many people who have helped me to celebrate my 60th birthday. Thank you for your beautiful birthday cards and for your warm and eloquent messages. Thank you for your activism, your radiant energy and most of all for your love. I am sincerely grateful for your support and for your commitment to social justice, truth and freedom.

It is somehow surprising for me to realize that I have lived on this planet for 60 years. I never imagined that I would live this long. Some of those years were very hard years, other years were happier, but I have never forgotten who I am or where I came from. For as long as I can remember, I was acutely aware of my oppression and of the oppression of my people.

In some ways it was easier for my generation. Racism was blatant and obvious. The "Whites Only" signs let us know clearly, what we were up against. Not much has changed, but the system of lies and tricknology is much more sophisticated. Today young people have to be highly informed and acutely analytical, or they will be swept up into a whirlpool of lies and deception.

Freedom, justice and liberty are words that are thrown around a lot in the United States, but for most of us, it is empty rhetoric. With each and every passing day the country becomes more repressive, the police more viciously aggressive and the so-called constitutional guarantees obliterated by scare tactics.

The so-called 'Conservatives' are only interested in conserving their privileges and power and helping their rich friends to become richer. Black 'Conservatives' serve their "masters" and are basically interested in grinning, shuffling and 'Uncle Tomming' all the way to the bank.

This is the most corrupt administration that has ever existed. They have blatantly stolen not millions, but billions of dollars. They are actively seeking to preserve the old colonial order with a new face, where the oppressed people of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East are expected to suffer happily, and sing praises to imperialism to the tune of the star spangled banner.

It is extreme arrogance to attack and occupy a country and expect its people to rejoice and lick your feet. Not even Roman Emperors were involved in such misguided conceit. The U.S. government has no right whatsoever, to force its undemocratic "democracy" on the rest of the world.

I am 60 years old and I cannot remember a time when my people ever experienced true democracy. It is still the active policy of the U.S. government to use a wide variety of tactics to prevent poor people and people of color from voting. And when we do get to vote, our votes usually do not count.

For the most part, there are no decent candidates to vote for, because the U.S, government is a "dollarocracy" where candidates have to beg and pander to the corporate rich in order to be elected.

I am 60 years old, and I have never in my life seen such widespread violence and cruelty. The U.S. government has more people in prison than any other country in the world, and it is now actively involved in creating prisons all over the world. Abu Gharib is only the tip of the iceberg.

People all over the world are being imprisoned in secret prisons, with no formal charges being made against them. They are imprisoned under the most inhumane conditions, and detained for indeterminate periods of time, with no rights, no trials, and no justice whatsoever.

In short, the leaders of this country are war criminals. All the U.S. government has to do is call them terrorists or extremists, enemy combatants or whatever and they can do anything they want to these people. I live in Cuba, and the Cuban people watch horrified, as the U.S. Army illegally occupies their land in Guantanamo and commits unspeakable acts of torture on their soil, in the name of "freedom."

The U.S. government not only destroys the lives of people around the world, many mothers have cried because many of our young people have had their lives destroyed as well. I believe that this earth was meant for tenderness and not terror. The imperialist countries not only implement terrorist policies in the Third World, their actions also provoke terrorist activities and internal disputes between people.

I believe that when Western governments learn to respect the sovereignty of Third world governments, and to offer solidarity and support rather that imperialist policies and exploitation, most of the world's problems will be close to being solved.

Inside the belly of the beast, conditions are also disastrous. Most of the victims of Katrina are still waiting for decent housing and public services. Schools and hospitals around the country are either deteriorating or closing down. Around the country social programs to help poor and working people are mostly a thing of the past.

Our young people are being marginalized, criminalized and brutalized. It is often an act of courage to go to school, or simply drive down the street. The U.S. government's occupation of Afghanistan has produced a record increase of heroin production, and the "war on drugs" continues to be a war on poor people and people of color. The police brutality in our communities is not a simple matter of randomly "bad" cops.

This government is more repressive than ever and more and more of a police state. When you have a trigger happy president, a trigger happy vice-president, a trigger happy office of homeland security, you are bound to have an increase of trigger happy police and many of our young people are bound to end up dead or imprisoned. The social policies of the United States have deteriorated from so-called benign neglect to malignant hostility or indifference.

The role the press and the media have played in all this has been increasingly malignant. There is no such thing as a free press in the United States. Journalists receive big salaries for telling "official" lies. The media both knowingly and naively became the vehicle for misinforming the people of the United States and convincing the people that it was "necessary" to go to war. Their "reporting" was based on outright lies. Now they "embedded" in the military, continuing to misinform the people, and distort the truth.

I am 60 years old and I am proud to be one of those people who stood up against the ruthless, evil, imperialist policies of the U.S. government. In my lifetime I have opposed the war against the Vietnamese people, the illegal contras – war in Nicaragua, the illegal coup in Chile, the invasion of Haiti and of Grenada, and every other illegal, immoral and genocidal war the U.S. government has ever waged. I have never been a criminal and I never will be one.

I am 60 years old and in spite of government repression, in spite of the media's lies and distortions, in spite of the U.S, government's COINTELPRO Program to criminalize and demonize political opponents, I feel proud to count myself as someone who believes in peace and believes in freedom.

I am proud to have been a member of the Black Panther Party although the U.S. government continues try to distort history and continues to persecute ex-members of the Black Panther Party. Just recently, the U.S. government has indicted and arrested 8 ex-Black Panthers in a case that was dismissed 30 years ago.

The case was dismissed some 30 years ago when it became obvious that the most vicious forms of extreme torture were used to extract false confessions from some of the so-called defendants.

I am 60 years and it is doubtful that I will ever live to see my people free of oppression and repression. But I am totally convinced that our collective dream of freedom will some day be realized. I sincerely implore young people to develop their minds, to develop their skills, to expand their states of consciousness, and sharpen their abilities to analyze reality.

Those Africans who conspired with the European slave trade to sell us into slavery were seduced by trinkets. I hope and pray that our young people will not continue to fall into the same traps. I have always loved my people and always loved our culture. The culture of my people has always been rich and always been filled with the seeds of resistance. I hope that young people hold fast to that tradition.

I sincerely hope that all young people will have the courage and the wisdom to hold on tight to their humanity and their historical mission. Most people in the Americas, were either indigenous people whose ancestors were victims of genocide, or brought to this hemisphere as slaves, or came to this continent seeking freedom. I believe that it is our collective duty to make freedom a reality.

I truly believe that it is possible to end oppression and repression on this planet. If we all see ourselves as citizens of this planet, and citizens of the world, it will be easier for us to save this planet and recognize the human rights of human beings around the world.

Much love, Much Solidarity,
May we all make freedom a reality,
Assata Shakur

"Now is the time for us to come together with one another, to organize, to speak out and speak up on behalf of each other. There is no time to waste, while we debate, define, and discuss; the enemy continues his genocidal plan. We need to bear in mind the Ashanti proverb: 'Two men in a burning house must not stop to argue.' " - Dr. Mutulu Shakur


Assata Shakur Forum -
PanAfrican.TV - http://www.PanAfrican.TV

Institute for Race Relations Reports Indicate Growing Racist Attacks in the UK

Anger over slave trader pub name

Race equality campaigners are angry after a Devon city centre pub changed its name to honour the 16th Century slave trader John Hawkins.

The Breton Arms has been renamed Hawkins Meeting House, angering the Racial Equality Council based nearby.

Hawkins was a 16th Century shipbuilder, merchant, pirate and slave trader.

The pub's owner says she is celebrating the life of the man who helped his fellow Plymothian Sir Francis Drake defeat the Spanish Armada.
Born Plymouth, 1535
Famed for voyages to West Africa and South America
Trades slaves in the Caribbean in 1562
Helped fight the Spanish Armada in 1588
But Sue Stratton from the Racial Equality Council (REC) said she does not believe he is someone of whom Plymouth should be proud.

"It's very unfortunate that the pub has chosen to celebrate someone who had a history of being very involved with the transatlantic slave trade and that will cause offence to anyone who understands the horrors of slavery," she said.

The pub's new owner Laura Ashenford said she was unaware that the REC was based across the road or that the organisation had been involved in celebrating the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade.

"This is going far too far," she said.

"If you are going to look at John Hawkins then you must also look at every single one of the historical figures who up until 200 years ago was involved in the slave trade."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/03/27 09:04:13 GMT

Racist thugs attacked man in home

A man was followed into his home and beaten by racist thugs.

The 30-year-old Afro-Carribean man told police he was followed along Chichester Road in North End, Portsmouth, by two men who were shouting racist abuse.

He turned into Emsworth Road and went to go into his own house.But as he tried to close the door the two men forced their way inside and the victim was forced to fight them off.

The man pulled out his mobile phone and threatened to call police. It was then the two men fled.

The attack took place between 2am and 3.10am on Sunday, March 16 but police have only now asked for the public's help.

PC John Upsher, from Fratton police station, said: 'This was anunprovoked racially aggravated attack, and the victim was left shaken by the experience.

'I urge anyone with any information to come forward and assist police in identifying the offenders.

'Perhaps someone has seen the men in the area at the time or heard a commotion. I would ask that anyone with any relevant information contacts police.'

The first attacker is described as white, aged 22 to 30, 5ft 10-11ins tall, of slim build with short dark shaved hair.

He was wearing a white shirt with a red square pattern all over it and black trousers.

The second man was white, aged 22 to 30, about 5ft 7in tall and of a stocky build with short shaved fair hair.

He was wearing a white shirt and black trousers.

Anyone with any information should contact PC John Upsher at Fratton Police Station on 0845 045 45 45 or (01962) 841534, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The full article contains 293 words and appears in NS-City newspaper.

Family's hell at the hands of racist yobs

Years of racist abuse

By Richard Heath

A SHEFFIELD mum says she has suffered years of sickening racist abuse for living with an Asian man.

Nicola Clark says her life is being destroyed by racist yobs who have subjected her and her 33-year-old partner Aftab Hussain to a spate of attacks since they and their children moved on to the Arbourthorne estate two years ago.

The mum-of-two said the attacks culminated when a teenager pelted her with a rasher of bacon - an assault on the Muslim custom of not eating pork.

Nicola said: "They have destroyed my life - I cry every night because I am so worried about our kids' safety.

"I would happily move out of my flat and into a shed in the middle of nowhere if it meant we could be safe.

"We have suffered so much abuse over the last two years - they have even thrown bacon at me because they know Muslims don't eat pork. I'm not Muslim but I know it was a dig at my partner. It's absolutely awful."

Nicola, of Errington Avenue, said the problems began when she was pregnant with her first boy, Joseph, now aged two.

She said yobs chased her partner up the street with an iron bar, and later threw a beer can at them.

The 32-year-old claims the gang of teenagers, believed to be aged from about 13 to 17, have repeatedly hurled racist abuse at them and warned them to leave the estate.

Nicola, who last year gave birth to her second child, Arshad, claims she has also been forced to scrap three cars over the last 18 months after they were vandalised by the yobs.

"I have tried talking to them but it hasn't done any good," said Nicola. "I just want them to stop so we can get our lives back together." Acting inspector Ian Stubbs, of the Manor and Arbourthorne Safer Neighbourhood Team, said he is aware of four incidents being reported during the last 13 months, but only one of them was racially motivated.

He added: "We are taking this matter very seriously. This will be robustly investigated and we are pursuing all possible lines of inquiry to identify the persons responsible.

"We will be making further contact with the complainants to discuss any concerns they have regarding racial abuse and will progress this accordingly."

Anyone with information should contact the Manor and Arbourthorne Safer Neighbourhood Team on 0114 296 3993.

Asian men are targeted in race attack

TWO Asian men have been assaulted and abused in a city-centre race attack.

Police are hunting two men and a woman who they believe carried out the attack, which happened in the early hours of Sunday.

The two Asian men, aged 30 and 31, were sitting at a bus stop by Leopold Place when they were approached by the culprits at around 3am.

The attackers hurled racist abuse at them before attacking them, and making off west along London Road.

The men were taken to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to have their injuries treated.

All three suspects were described as white and between 25 and 30 years old, while both men were just under 6ft tall. The first had short ginger hair, shaved at the sides and spiky on top and was wearing a blue and white striped jumper.

The second man had short black hair, and was wearing a pink shirt. The woman had a chubby build, long brown hair, and was wearing a white jacket and dress.