Thursday, April 30, 2009

ANC Today: Letter From The President

Letter from the president

Siyabonga, thank you Mzansi

We have come to the end of a vibrant election campaign. The huge voter turnout has indicated the value attached by our people to the right to vote and to the constitutional and democratic way to change or renew a government's mandate.

We are very grateful and humbled by the decisive mandate we have received from millions of South Africans. They were attracted by our policies and the delivery of services in the past 15 years, as well as the track record of this movement in working to build a better South Africa since 1912. We do not take the mandate lightly. We know the responsibility that comes with it.

We also thank our people who voted for the ANC for the first time in this election. We assure you that your vote was not misplaced. We thank ANC cadres, supporters and volunteers for their excellent work across the length and breadth of our country. This is your victory.

To those South Africans who did not vote for the ANC, we will form a government that takes care of your needs to the best of our ability. Working together we will make it a government for all South Africans.

The new President of the Republic will be a President for all, and he will work to unite the country around a programme of action that will see an improvement in the delivery of services. He will strive to turn the climate in the country into a positive and relaxed one, that makes people free to be creative and work hard to improve their lives and the economy of the country.

Now that the election is over, we must enter a new era of hope and progress. We must enter a period where we bury mistrust, uncertainty, pain and tension, and begin a new chapter of harmony and collaboration. We cannot afford to dwell on the negatives.

We must enter a period in which South Africa reclaims its position and image as a thriving nation, which can overcome all its difficulties, and which is able to put the country first above sectional and party political interests.

Our resounding victory is a celebration for people from all walks of life who helped to shape our Manifesto which will now become government's programme of action for the next five years.

We thank women, youth, black professionals, minority groups, workers, artists and entertainers, traditional leaders, religious leaders and many sectors and individuals who made inputs into this Manifesto.

There will be no surprises in the next administration's programme of action. The electorate has endorsed our call for an equitable, sustainable and inclusive growth path that will bring decent work and sustainable livelihoods.

We have scored a victory for a better education system, better health care, safer and secure communities, and rural development. We will make our country one that creates an enabling environment for women to develop, thrive and be successful.

We remain committed to every word we uttered during the election campaign. We were serious when we said we would improve the pace and quality of service delivery, that we will appoint competent people to government, and that we will be tough on non-performance.

We were serious when we said we want to maintain direct contact with the citizens. We will not be a government that is out of touch with its people. We will work with all parties in Parliament to deepen the oversight role of Parliament.

We will work with all parties. We will need to do more to elevate our national days, such as the forthcoming Freedom Day, into inclusive, serious and meaningful occasions, which are instruments of nation building.

We intend to work with all parties and sectors to promote our sports development, starting with the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. We must work tirelessly together to make the Confederations Cup in June and the World Cup next year phenomenal successes.

We will work with the African Union and SADC, as well as with other regional blocs, to promote sustainable development, peace and security. We will continue with efforts to find lasting solutions in Zimbabwe, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Western Sahara, Somalia and other flashpoints.

We will strengthen our participation in multilateral institutions, including the United Nations. We will further deepen our relationship with the developed North as well as our role in the South-South dialogue programmes.

As we prepare for the transition into a new administration, our message to South Africans is that we will remain true to our undertaking to build a caring, inclusive, listening and responsive government. South Africa needs a government that fully understands what else needs to be done to reverse our apartheid past, building on the successes of the past 15 years.

The ANC, working together with all our people, will form such a government. Working together, we will do much more to build a better life for all our people.

Jacob G. Zuma, President

Freedom Day 2009 by Kgalema Motlanthe

The triumph of freedom over oppression

The twenty-seventh of April is the day on which for the first time all South Africans exercised their democratic right to cast their votes for the party of their choice. On this special day we celebrate the continuing hope and resilience of our people, working together to achieve the vision in our Constitution.

Fifteen years ago, South Africans queued in every part of our villages, townships and cities - proud to make history through putting their mark on a ballot paper, an act that would bring us freedom from more than 300 years of colonialism and segregation and more than 40 years of apartheid.

This nation has indeed trudged a very long way from an embittered and divided past to a society based on equality, dignity and respect for human rights. Our Constitutional order has proved itself to be not only rugged and enduring but impregnable too.

April 27 1994, marked the unity of our people and a beginning of a long journey from our divided past. Much has been achieved since that epoch-marking day in the evolution of our nation's history. The democratic government is also amply aware that despite all the gains made during the 15 years of democracy, much more still needs to be done to roll back the apartheid legacy, and especially, push back the frontiers of poverty.

In much the same way our nation has to work harder to consolidate participatory democracy in our country in ways that requires much more than just trooping to the polling stations to cast votes at the end of every five years. As South Africans we need to embrace the reality that only collective efforts from all sections of society can enable us to deal with our unique challenges in a way that yields positive results.

Our history is etched with the footprints of those who planted the seeds of freedom, of those who laid the foundations for equality. It is our generation that has succeeded in giving the dream of freedom a concrete reality. Apartheid sought to and succeeded in depriving the majority of a decent living.

This historical reality has been the driver behind government's efforts at reversing the legacy of apartheid and creating a better society. Today the battle takes place in the realm of ideas - as we proceed to improve the conditions of life for all citizens of our country.

Today we exercise the right to freedom of speech and movement. We are also free to congregate and to gather together and to dance in celebration of our diversity and of our unity. Today the battle is the fight to end poverty and to work towards sustainable development.

Today our struggle is and must be a social contract between the government and the people to improve health care, to achieve universal access to education, to expedite the delivery of housing, to strengthen the provision of free basic sanitation, electricity and clean water and to create decent work.

Today we need to unite in a common cause of fighting vestiges of racism and inequality. South Africa will continue to take the lead to demonstrate to ourselves and the world that we can build a society which is truly non-racial, non-sexist and democratic.

Perhaps beyond the symbolic force of April 27 is the underlying imperative of reanimating the dream of building a thriving society free from all forms of oppression. Central to this vision has been and remains the building of a free and prosperous society driven by the impulse to harness our differences into a formidable force for development and growth.

This vision, holds out the prospects of a prosperous South Africa defined by the bonds of a common destiny as we work together to do more to reach our goals. Today the battle is about striving to close the gap between rich and poor, to provide the necessary skills to all our youth, to provide all our people with productive lives in service of national and continental economic development and in pursuit of a golden Age for Africa and the developing world.

The attainment of prosperity in South Africa depends on our continuing to act in ways that are true to our people and that together we safeguard each other's future by fighting crime and protecting the foundations of a secure life.

It is the selfless actions of men and women that will continue to give this nation its lifeblood. A generation of youth sacrificed their lives knowing that they did not have the right to grow up and grow old and to live long and productive lives.

Let us remember them and be thankful for their sacrifices, heroism and selflessness, which often included loss of life and limb, and invariably, loss of youth, all for the noble cause of freedom. In celebrating April 27 we fully honour the commendable heroism and sacrifice over years of the struggle to win our freedom, with the solidarity of people from across the globe.

In honouring the memory of these great South Africans let us recommit ourselves to continue with the struggle for the improvement of the lives of all our people, irrespective of race, gender or station in life.

These individual and collective acts, by each and every adult South African who supported non-racialism and full equality, ushered in a new era of peace and democracy, and brought dignity and equal rights to every household in this land.

On Freedom Day government reaffirms its commitment to consolidate democracy and create a South Africa united in diversity. Warriors have died for us. Youth have given their lives for us. Generations have fought for this precious and treasured fifteen years of freedom.

Let us pledge to past generations that we shall build a better world for South Africans.

Freedom is a lived reality. Let us all work together to improve the quality of life for all so that the fullness of freedom becomes our lived reality as a united and prosperous people.

Kgalema Motlanthe is ANC Deputy President. This is an edited extract of an address at the Freedom Day celebrations in Durban on 27 April 2009.

COSATU Plans 36 May Day Rallies

JOHANNESBURG 29 April 2009 Sapa


The Congress of SA Trade Unions will mark Workers' Day on May 1 with 36 rallies around the country, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Wednesday.

Members of the trade union federation would be celebrating 15
years of democracy, as well as the African National Congress
victory in the recent elections, he told journalists in

"Cosatu played no small role in the ANC's victory. Now we are
mobilising for our own interests. We want decent work, more jobs. We are also mobilising for the commitment, made to restructure the economy, to be realised."

Vavi said Cosatu's national rally - to be addressed by its
president Sidumo Dlamini, ANC president Jacob Zuma and SA Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande - would be held at Mdantsane, East London.

The many rallies - between three and 10 in each province -
were proof of the unity within the tripartite alliance, he said.

Vavi said there would like to see an effective government.

"We want to see the best talents utilised effectively. We want to see fresh blood, unity, continuity and loyalty to the Polokwane [ANC conference held in December 2007] resolutions."

Vavi said Cosatu was "very happy" about how consultations
between it and the ANC on the formation of the new government were going, and said the trade union federation was going to be "reaping and benefiting" from the fruits of its labour.

Cosatu expected the new president to provide leadership on a
daily basis on how the country should deal with issues at hand.

"We want the ANC government to implement the commitments made to the poor and working class," Vavi said.

He also called on employers not to "undermine the hard won
holidays" by forcing people to go to work.

"We are also calling on government to declare a no-trading day on April 27, May 1, June 16 and August 9. I know some workers would be working on Friday [Workers' Day] at retailers like Checkers, Spar and Pick 'n Pay."

Vavi said the trade union would also like to see "nothing less" than a two percent drop in inflation.

"Everybody knows that we have always been and are against
inflation targeting. Go to any of the four major banks in South Africa, they will show how many houses and cars that were repossessed because of that," he said.

President Kgalema Motlanthe is set to address the Cosatu rally at Themba Stadium in Hamanskraal, and Vavi will be speaking at the rally in Durban, along with the ANC's Cyril Ramaphosa and the SACP's Jeremy Cronin.

Notes From an Uncivil War: The Dramatist on Her Purlitzer Prize-winning Play "Ruined"

Notes From an Uncivil War

The dramatist on her Pulitzer Prize-winning play 'Ruined'

Lynn Nottage was sitting on her couch watching MTV in her bathrobe this week in Brooklyn, N.Y., procrastinating instead of writing, when a reporter called and asked her how it felt to win the Pulitzer Prize. "I was like, 'Excuse me?'" says Ms. Nottage, a playwright who until the phone rang didn't realize she'd won the award for her drama, "Ruined."

Robert CaplinThe play, which explores the lives of rape victims in war-torn Congo, was inspired by interviews Ms. Nottage conducted with refugee women during trips to Africa. In 2004, Ms. Nottage, who had once worked in the press office of Amnesty International, visited the human rights group's office in Kampala, Uganda, and women who'd heard about her project came to tell her their stories. "In some cases the women had been walking since dawn," she says.

The Pulitzer for drama usually goes to plays that deal with American life, but the Pulitzer board made an exception this time, praising the drama as an unflinching portrait of wartime violence that still remains hopeful. Last week, the play extended its run to May 17 at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York.

The 44-year-old playwright, a graduate of Brown University and the Yale School of Drama, is at work on her next play, "By the Way, Meet Vera Stark," about an African-American maid in the 1930s who aspires to be an actress and will do whatever it takes to land a film role. This time, Ms. Nottage's research is easier: watching old movies.

Ms. Nottage, who received a 2007 MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, is the second African-American woman to receive the Pulitzer for drama (Suzan-Lori Parks won in 2002 for "Topdog/Underdog"). "I hope it encourages younger African-American women to write in a very bold and expansive way and not to pander but to challenge," she says.

The writer, who lives with her husband and 11-year-old daughter in the Boerum Hill home where she grew up, hasn't always enjoyed career success. In the 1990s, she wrote briefly for the children's TV show "Gullah Gullah Island," but she says a producer told her that she didn't understand the character of Binyah Binyah Polliwog. "That was the very, very beginning," she says, "when I was still trying to find my voice and my confidence as a writer." -- Ellen Gamerman

Putlitzer Winner "Ruined" Gets Six Extra Weeks at the Manhattan Theatre Club

Pulitzer Winner Ruined Gets Six Extra Weeks at MTC

By Kenneth Jones
April 30, 2009

Manhattan Theatre Club will extend its hot-selling production of Lynn Nottage's Ruined an additional six weeks, to June 28, following the play's recent win of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Kate Whoriskey directs the drama about a fierce saloon owner, Mama Nadi, who also rents out women in an effort to control the violence against them in the civil war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.

This marks the sixth extension of the Manhattan Theatre Club and Goodman Theatre co-production, which is currently playing New York City Center – Stage I at 131 West 55th Street.

Ruined also received five Drama Desk Award nominations, including Outstanding New Play; five Outer Critics Circle Award nominations, including Outstanding Off-Broadway Play; two Drama League nominations; and three Lucille Lortel Award nominations.

Nottage is the Obie Award-winning author of such plays as Fabulation and Intimate Apparel. According to MTC, Ruined is a "haunting, probing work about the resilience of the human spirit during times of war. Set in a small mining town in Democratic Republic of Congo, this powerful play follows Mama Nadi, a shrewd businesswoman in a land torn apart by civil war. But is she protecting or profiting by the women she shelters? How far will she go to survive? Can a price be placed on a human life?"

Tickets for Ruined are available via New York City Center box office, CityTix at (212) 581-1212 and

Tickets for Ruined are $75. For more information visit

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu, Pigs and Profits

Swine flu, pigs and profits

By Hillel Cohen
Published Apr 29, 2009 3:42 PM

Fear of a swine flu pandemic is spreading much faster than the virus itself.

While it’s too soon to predict how widespread and deadly this new variation of influenza virus will be, information about the likely origin of the outbreak is starting to surface. A huge factory-farm pig operation owned by U.S. corporate giant Smithfield and operated by its Mexican subsidiary, Granjas Carroll de Mexico, may have spawned this new threat to public health.

Local residents from the towns of La Gloria and Perote in the Mexican state of Veracruz have been fighting the pork-breeding giant for years.

Producing close to a million hogs annually, the company maintains huge lagoons of hog manure as well as open-air dumps for rotting remains of hogs that die before being slaughtered. Fumes from the hog waste foul the air for miles and residents believe that their ground water may have also been contaminated. Swarms of flies that feed on the manure are in close reach of the towns.

It is well known that flies can spread avian flu by carrying material from infected bird droppings from place to place. It is possible that flies feeding on the hog manure may also be in contact with bird droppings and became the mechanism for mixing virus material from hogs, birds and humans, which is now causing the outbreak.

According to reports from the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, local residents tried to block the construction of the farm as early as 2005. A year ago, several activists were arrested by Veracruz authorities, who have worked closely with Granjas Carroll to suppress opposition to the huge hog operation.

Long before the swine flu outbreak made it into the international news, hundreds of La Gloria residents were complaining of severe respiratory infections, with many developing into pneumonia. Pneumonia is one of the severe complications of influenza infection. Veratect, a U.S. private company that monitors health outbreaks around the world for its subscribers, noticed the outbreak in Veracruz over a month ago and called the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). With its attention still on alleged—and non-existent—bioterrorism, the CDC ignored these calls for several weeks.

The first confirmed case of the new swine flu virus was that of a young boy in La Gloria, who has since recovered. The outbreak has spread to Mexico City and other Mexican areas as well as some cases in New York, California, Texas and other locations in the U.S., as well as around the world. At this writing at least 1,500 suspected cases in Mexico have resulted in over 150 deaths. While cases in the U.S. have so far been milder, one or two suspected deaths have already been recorded.

Health officials believe that the current strain of virus is a mix of genetic material from viruses that infect hogs and birds as well as humans. For almost a decade, world and U.S. health officials have focused on so-called avian or bird flu—labeled H5N1—which has spread around the world but has not “jumped” to human populations. Although some people contracted bird flu from close proximity to poultry and water foul, no human-to-human transmission has been reported.

This new swine flu is a variation of H1N1, which is much more common in human flu. It’s already clear that it is spreading by human-to-human transmission.

Because the largest number of cases have come from Mexico, some right-wing commentators on the Fox network have already tried to blame Mexican immigrants for bringing the virus across the border and may use the fear over swine flu to whip up even more immigrant bashing.

The fact that the U.S. cases seem to be among tourists from this country or those close to tourists has so far limited the attacks on immigrants. So far, however, relatively little attention in the big business mass media has been given to the Smithfield connection or the fact that similar huge and hazardous plants can be found in North Carolina, Utah and elsewhere.

An article in Rolling Stone magazine in 2006 estimated that Smithfield alone produced 26 million TONS of animal waste a year—the byproduct of over $11 billion in sales. So-called “free-trade” agreements like NAFTA have enabled corporate giants like Smithfield to set up their hazardous shops in Mexico with little or no regulation and at the expense of the local people.

Will the corporate criminals who have profited from this environmental and public health disaster be held responsible?

Cohen is a doctor of public health.
Articles copyright 1995-2009 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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Capitalist swine flu
Published Apr 29, 2009 3:35 PM

Every disaster—whether earthquake, flood or epidemic—exposes the fault lines in society.

Such is the case with the possible pandemic—worldwide epidemic—of a virulent flu caused by a newly mutated virus. This human version of swine flu has hit Mexico most severely, with the United States a close second. It has rapidly spread to a dozen other countries.

Politically, the greatest threat is that right-wing demagogues will try to scapegoat Mexicans, especially Mexican immigrants, for the epidemic’s spread. This is a serious political challenge to progressive forces in the U.S. It will require a redoubling of the already necessary effort to build solidarity between immigrant and U.S.-born workers, a solidarity that will be emphasized at May Day events across the country.

The attempt to blame Mexicans is not only despicable, it is way off. Look at these facts.

ABC News reported on April 28 that “Mexico’s first suspected case of the swine flu was detected in the remote farming village of La Gloria” a month ago. Some 800 of the 2,000 people there got sick. “The most likely way that this young boy got the infection was from another person who had been in contact with the pigs,” said Dr. Kathryn Edwards of Vanderbilt Medical Center.

What ABC failed to report was that the pigs were on a nearby industrial farm run by a subsidiary of Smithfield Farms, the anti-union, polluting, factory-farm monopoly based in Virginia and North Carolina. For years, the communities around these farms have been complaining about the unhealthy conditions and stench from thousands of pigs and their waste crowded into small areas.

Historian Mike Davis, a professor at the University of California at Irvine and author of “The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu,” wrote in the Britain-based Guardian newspaper of April 27 that the “fecal mire of an industrial pigsty” was the likely environment in which a new flu virus could develop. Smithfield, wrote Davis, will ferociously resist any efforts to change its dangerous but highly profitable production processes.

An experienced writer on these issues, Davis also mentioned three obstacles to an efficient and effective defense against any pandemic: the weakness of the U.S. public health system, the negative attitude of the U.S. and other wealthy countries toward promoting cutting-edge public health facilities in the poorer countries, and Swiss-based Roche Pharmaceutical’s patent on the flu medicine Tamiflu, which prevents poor countries from developing generic anti-viral medicines.

The first lesson of this is that the U.S. has a disgraceful record regarding health care. The trillions spent on war should be used instead to set up a world-class national health system and bypass the overpriced, profit-guzzling health care industry.

Secondly, don’t blame Mexicans for this outbreak. Investigate Smithfield and take action against the polluters.

Next, pressure from imperialist banks over the last 30 years has forced poor countries to cut their public health outlays. This has not only debilitated health care, it has increased the danger of pandemics. Instead of criminalizing immigrant workers and militarizing the border with Mexico, the U.S. should be supporting Mexico’s efforts to improve its health system—especially since U.S. corporations like Smithfield are making huge profits there, by super-exploiting Mexican workers.

And lastly, the monopoly on new drugs held by a few privately owned pharmaceuticals impedes the development of a worldwide supply of generic medicines. For the health of humanity, medical knowledge must be shared and all countries be free to manufacture their own medicines.

This all points to one conclusion: that the capitalist system as a whole is an obstacle to protecting the life and health of humanity when faced with swine flu or any other possible pandemic.
Articles copyright 1995-2009 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
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Count Down For Troy Davis on Georgia's Death Row

Count Down for Troy Davis on Death Row

While news channels across the country are consumed with counting up to President Obama's first 100 days in office, Troy Davis has been counting down his last 30 days before a new execution date could be set. Help make these extra days count.

On May 19th help save Troy Davis by putting together any activity, event or creative action that calls attention to his case.

Dear Abayomi,

The 30-day stay issued by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals expires on May 15th.

So now is the time for us to organize to save the life of Troy Anthony Davis. We're asking everybody to come out strong on May 19th – a day marked in human rights calendars across the world as the Global Day of Action for Troy Davis.

Whether you're holding a "Text TROY to 90999" sign on a busy street or organizing your local Amnesty chapter to hold a public demonstration or vigil, we need everybody to contribute their time on May 19th to make sure that the state of Georgia does not kill a man who may well be innocent. Register your Global Day of Action for Troy Davis activity or event now.

We know that time is short for organizing public events, but an execution date could be set as early as late May, so it is essential that action be taken soon. It's also really important that we get an accurate count of how many events and activities are taking place on May 19th, so we can share this information with officials in Georgia. Our emails and phone calls have gone a long way in buying Troy some much-needed time, but now we've got to take our action to the streets.

We appreciate the tens of thousands of you who have stood in Troy's corner while heart-stopping scenes have unfolded. On three separate occasions, Troy has been scheduled for execution. And on three separate occasions, his life was saved within a short period of time, even minutes, of his scheduled execution date.

Each time, those last minute stays came after people like you turned out by the thousands to rally in his defense. It was no coincidence. Troy's sister and long-time Amnesty activist, Martina Correia, has acknowledged Amnesty's powerful role in saving her brother's life each of those times.

Now here we are again with the clock winding down. While we can see little opportunity for legal recourse or second chances, we know that your advocacy has a strong record of making amazing things happen.

When we first introduced you to Troy Davis in early 2007, few people outside of Georgia knew about the injustice taking place. In the past two years, countless people have come to see Troy's case as a prime example of why the death penalty must be abolished – the risk of executing someone for a crime they did not commit is just too high.

We are serious when we say that we need everyone to support Troy Davis on May 19th by organizing their own event or awareness-raising activity.

After all, if you had 30 days left to fight for your life, wouldn't you want to know that you had thousands standing in your corner?

In Solidarity,

Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn
Director, Death Penalty Abolition Campaign
Amnesty International USA

Somalia, Pirates and Prospects For a US Invasion

Somalia, pirates and prospects for a U.S. invasion

By Sultan Muhammad
Apr 22, 2009

( - “Far beneath the surface of the tragic drama of Somalia, four major U.S. oil companies are quietly sitting on a prospective fortune in exclusive concessions to explore and exploit tens of millions of acres of Somali countryside ... According to documents obtained by The Times, nearly two-thirds of Somalia was allocated to the American oil giants Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips in the final years before Somalia's pro-U.S. President Mohammed Siad Barre was overthrown and the nation plunged into chaos in January, 1991.”

These words taken from a Los Angeles Times article written January 18, 1993, by Mark Fineman, not only do much to expose the reason for the U.S. led attack and failure in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 3, 1993 (known sentimentally as Blackhawk Down or militarily as Operation Gothic Serpent), but it also gives rise to the speculation about today's so-called “Somali sea pirates.” The pirates are now presented as a world threat or, at least, a threat to the United States of America. All such threats must eventually be met by an ominous defensive response from the most powerful military in the world.

Somali President Siad Barre, who had been supported by the Soviet Union until he attempted to unite the Greater Somalia area of Ogaden in 1977, turned to the United States whose support waned in 1989. He was ousted by General Mohammed Farah Aidid in 1991. Both the Soviet Union (at that time) and the United States had realized then, as now, the geostrategic importance of Somalia on the Western shore and Yemen on the Middle East side of the mouth of the Red Sea.

During the presidency of George H.W. Bush, two UN labeled moves, Operation Provide Relief in August, 1992 and Operation Restore Hope, in December, 1992 in accordance with UN Resolution 794 were initiated as so-called humanitarian relief efforts which required the presence of foreign troops to keep the peace. This is the premise which landed the U.S. Marine Corps with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit I in Mogadishu. With the help of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines and 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines, the U.S. troops secured almost a third of the city, including the valuable port and airport facilities which allegedly helped humanitarian supplies be airlifted.

The locations also facilitated U.S. troop activity in Somalia and carving out a safe haven for millions invested and billions projected to be made from undelivered oil contracts.

It was President Bill Clinton, husband of Hillary Clinton, now Secretary of State, who ordered the October 3, 1993 assault by United States Army Rangers and Delta Force operatives who killed some 500 to 1,500 men, women and children in an onslaught against General Aidid. The U.S. had decided to arrest the Somali leader. Two famed Blackhawk helicopter gunships were shot down by grenade launchers, shocking those involved with the U.S. assault.

It was later discovered that the Somali operators of the grenade launchers had been trained by CIA-trained Afghans who were taught to use the grenade launchers to shoot down Soviet copters in Afghanistan.

What is seldom mentioned is that three months before Operation Gothic Serpent, on July 12, 1993, Mr. Clinton had already launched a U.S.-led Gaza-like attack on a supposed safe house meeting in Mogadishu between General Aidid's Habar Gidir clan. Thousands of 20–millimeter and reportedly 16 TOW missiles were fired upon the compound, killing some 73 elders, not gunmen, meeting to resolve the conflict between Mr. Aidid and the multinational task force in Somalia.

The United Nations, in concert with the U.S., had committed UNISOM II troops to support American troops brought in to help “keep the peace.”

Since this tumultuous period, there has yet to be a period of peace, as most that have interfered have worked to continue, not only the conflict of division, but also ever growing famine, starvation and destitution in Somalia.

Online Journal Associate Editor, Larry Chin, wrote in an article published May 22, 2006:

“Somalia is of geostrategic interest to the Bush administration, and the focus of operations and policy since 2001. This focus is a continuation of long-term policies of both the Clinton administration and George W. Bush administrations. Somalia's resources have been eyed by Western powers since the days of the British Empire.

“According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Somalia currently has proven oil reserves, and only 200 billion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves, and hydrocarbon production. But this has not dimmed continuing interest in Somalia's untapped and unexplored potential, and the possibility of an energy bonanza ... Conoco, Agip, Amoco, Chevron, and Phillips held concessions in the area. Of more immediate logistical and military interest, Somalia is situated on a key corridor between the Middle East and Africa, strategically located on the coast of the Arabian Sea, a short distance from Yemen.”

Threats against Somalia have never ceased, including attempts to invade Somalia using U.S.-backed countries such as Ethiopia from the West and projected U.S. warship attacks upon what amounts to fishing boat-sized desperados, or so-called “pirates.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared April 8 that “pirates” holding American container ship Maersk Alabama Captain Richard Phillips captive are “merely criminals.”

The question has to be raised how this rag-tag group of fishing boat “terrorists” can commandeer such huge and sophisticated ships. File film footage is questionable and could only be men going aboard most of these ships to work.

Will the problem be solved at sea or will it require an invasion into Somalia? Some analysts are already saying strike the “pirates” at their bases in the country.

Cote d'Ivoire to Hold Presidential Poll

Cote d’Ivoire to hold presidential poll

UNITED NATIONS--Cote d’Ivoire’s UN envoy announced yesterday that his country would hold long-delayed presidential polls by December 6, catching the opposition by surprise.

Ambassador Ilahiri Djedje told the UN Security Council that the first round of the election, which has been put off repeatedly since President Laurent Gbagbo’s mandate ran out in 2005, will finally be held before year’s end.

"The peace process in Cote d’Ivoire is not stalling, the political decision has been made," he said.

The exact date of the election, which the Independent Electoral Commission has set between October 11 and December 6, would be announced by Gbagbo "in the coming days," Djeje added.

Gbagbo also said Friday that the election would take place this year.

But the country’s two main opposition parties were surprised by the announcement and its origin.

"The institution that decides the date of elections is the independent electoral commission, not an embassy," said Niamkey Koffi, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast.

"The CEI has not told us anything about the dates so far," he said.

Ally Coulibaly, spokesman of the Rally of Republicans, also found it "strange that the announcement comes from New York, from the mouth of the ambassador of Cote d’Ivoire at the United Nations."

Coulibaly said it is up to the commission to decide on a schedule for the elections and submit it to the president, who then ratifies it in a decree. — AFP.

Zimbabwe News Update: Zambia Stands by Nation; State on Alert for Swine Flu

Zambia stands by Zim

Herald Reporter

ZAMBIA will continue to support Zimbabwe’s economic recovery efforts, visiting Zambian President Rupiah Bwezani Banda has said.

Speaking at a State banquet hosted in his honour by President Mugabe and the First Lady, Amai Grace Mugabe, at State House last night, President Banda commended his Zimbabwean counterpart for Government’s well-articulated economic recovery programme.

He assured Zimbabwe of Zambia’s continued support despite the negative effects of the global economic crisis, while reiterating that the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by a cabal of Western nations and their allies must be lifted immediately.

"I wish to re-affirm Zambia’s commitment to contributing to the Short-Term Emergency Recovery Programme in order to assist Zimbabwean brothers and sisters.

"Following the Sadc Extraordinary Summit in Swaziland, we are encouraging countries to lift sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

"The lifting of sanctions will help facilitate the implementation of the recovery programme," he said.

President Banda said he was impressed by the manner in which the political leadership had stuck to the tenets of the Global Political Agreement that created the inclusive Government despite the scepticism expressed by some Western countries regarding the success of the arrangement.

President Banda arrived in Zimbabwe yesterday afternoon on a four-day State visit that will see him officially opening the 50th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo today.

President Banda, who is accompanied by his wife Thandiwe and family, was met at the Harare International Airport by President Mugabe, Amai Grace Mugabe and their children, Robert Jnr and Belamine.

Also at the airport to welcome the Zambian leader were State Security Minister Sydney Sekeramayi; Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Stan Mudenge; Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu; Harare Metropolitan Province Governor and Resident Minister David Karimanzira; senior Government officials, service chiefs, diplomats and Zambians resident in Zimbabwe.

President Banda’s delegation includes Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Mr Felix Mutate; while Zambian Agriculture Minister Dr Brian Chituwo, Provincial Minister for the Copperbelt Mwansa Mbulakulwa, the Deputy Minister of Energy Gladys Lundwe and the director in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Watson Mwale, are already in Bulawayo for the trade fair.

President Banda was given a 21-gun salute at the airport — the highest honour that can be bestowed on a visiting head of state.

Presidents Mugabe and Banda will tour stands at the ZITF grounds before the latter officially opens the annual exhibition later today.

President Banda is also expected to travel to his birthplace in Vumba Chigwe Village, Gwanda District, in Matabeleland South.

At last night’s banquet, President Mugabe outlined the long history of co-operation between Zambia and Zimbabwe, a history dating back to the days of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle.

"For these sacrifices and for your country’s support under very difficult circumstances, Zimbabwe will always remain grateful," he said.

He paid tribute for Zambia’s support during the inter-party talks that led to the formation of the inclusive Government.

"We recall with deep gratitude, that Your Excellency, as Acting President of Zambia, attended the signing of the Global Political Agreement on September 15.

"This is typical of the solidarity which your great country and people have always shown for Zimbabwe."

President Mugabe also took the opportunity to once again assure the nation of Zanu-PF’s commitment and determination to see the inclusive Government succeed.

"We may be experiencing a few teething problems in the process. This is normal in an arrangement of this nature.

"However, as you are aware, we have put mechanisms in place to deal with such problems and I am confident that these problems will soon be behind us," President Mugabe said.

He condemned the illegal economic sanctions, saying Government’s efforts to turn around the economy would be hampered by the continued existence of the economic embargo.

"This is precisely why Sadc, as well as the AU and many other progressive countries, have called for their (the sanctions) removal.

"With the signing of the GPA and the formation of the inclusive Government, one finds it difficult to understand the motivation of those who are still punishing Zimbabwe."

President Mugabe took time to condemn the ongoing political turmoil in Madagascar and the recent assassination attempt on Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

Zimbabwe on high alert for swine flu

Herald Reporter

ZIMBABWE has increased surveillance at all entry ports of the country in the wake of the swine flu virus that has claimed over 160 people in Mexico and is said to be rapidly spreading across the globe.

In an interview yesterday, Health and Child Welfare Minister Dr Henry Madzorera said following the outbreak his ministry, with the assistance of partners who include the World Health Organisation country team, had deployed health teams at the country’s ports of entry to check for any suspected cases of swine flu (H1N1).

"At the moment we have no recorded cases of the flu, but as a precaution we have put a number of measures in place to detect the virus in the event it spreads to Zimbabwe.

"A taskforce consisting of the ministry, the Department of Veterinary Services and WHO has increased surveillance at the country’s main ports of entry that include the Harare International Airport, Bulawayo (Joshua Nkomo) Airport and Beitbridge, among others.

"We have put our structures on a state of readiness and will move in with haste to investigate suspected cases. Any suspected cases or individuals presenting symptoms similar to those of swine flu will be referred to our hospitals that investigate infections in the nearest city such as Wilkins Hospital in Harare," he said.

Minister Madzorera said the taskforce was therefore on the lookout for any signs of flu or any other unusual signs among visitors to Zimbabwe. He said health personnel had been asked to be on the lookout for any unusual increase in cases of flu.

"Although Zimbabwe does not have drugs to treat the bug in its stocks, Zimbabwe is aware that WHO Africa Regional Centre has enough of the medicine and in the event that the drugs are needed we can get in touch with them," he said.

According to the WHO, the human swine flu outbreak continues to grow in Mexico, United States and the globe forcing the global health body to raise the pandemic alert level from phase three to phase four, a clear signal of the need for quick response and mitigation efforts.

The rise in the pandemic level means experts believe the virus is showing a sustained ability to pass from human to human, and is able to cause community-level outbreaks.

Although Mexican authorities say they have recorded nearly 160 deaths of the bug and 2 000 cases, WHO says it has officially recorded only seven deaths.

In the United States 65 cases were confirmed and one death recorded, 13 cases were recorded in Canada, 14 in New Zealand while Britain, Spain and Israel have recorded two cases each. Germany had one.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease thought to spread through coughing and sneezing with similar symptoms to those of normal flu. Swine flu is caused by any strain of the influenza virus endemic in pigs and is rare in humans.

People who work with pigs, especially those with intense exposures, are at risk of catching swine influenza if the swine carries a strain able to infect humans.

UK, C’wealth lift travel warnings

From Isdore Guvamombe in BULAWAYO

BRITAIN and the Commonwealth have, with immediate effect, lifted travel advisories warning their citizens against visiting Zimbabwe with the European Union promising to do the same in the next week or so, a Cabinet minister has said.

The Commonwealth joins Japan, Germany, and the United States who have since lifted their travel warnings.

Addressing the International Business Meeting at the ongoing Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo yesterday, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi said Britain had communicated to his office that it had lifted travel warnings.

"Allow me to announce that Britain and the Commonwealth have removed travel warnings they had imposed on their citizenry.

"The EU has promised that it will do the same in the next one-and-a half weeks. So there is no need for anyone to claim that we have failed to do business because tourists are banned from visiting this country.

"America, Japan, Germany and others have done the same, so we should be seeing a flooding of our resorts by tourists from these countries," Minister Mzembi said.

He said once the EU lifts travel warnings, that would signal the end of travel warning regimes that have severely affected tourist arrivals in particular, and business in general, since citizens of those countries adhere to the their government warnings.

"There will be no more excuses because we are now a safe destination and anyone can come. I have received more than 25 letters from countries that are working on removing travel warnings in the EU and elsewhere," he said.

Minister Mzembi said he would, next week, lead a delegation to Brazil to negotiate with that country’s football bosses to have the Samba Boys, as the Brazilian national team is affectionately known, camp and train in Zimbabwe ahead of the 2010 World Cup soccer finals in South Africa.

"I am leading a delegation to Brazil and hopefully we will be able to convince the Brazilians to camp here first before going into South Africa for their matches.

"When we were fighting politically, other countries were moving in and clinching deals with teams that qualified for the soccer finals, so we now have to move fast and put ourselves in better deals," he said.

Minister Mzembi challenged the banking sector to ensure that plastic money is made available so that tourists do not have to carry with them huge sums of cash. "We urgently need to sort out our use of cash. No tourist would want to have a lot of cash while travelling to several places in the country," he said.

US House Passes "Hate Crime" Bill That Bush Opposed

U.S. House passes "hate crime" bill that Bush opposed

Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:57pm BST
By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday approved an expansion of federal "hate crime" laws -- an effort that former Republican President George W. Bush had opposed.

On a vote of 249-175, the House passed and sent to the Senate a bill backed by the new Democratic White House to broaden such laws by classifying as "hate crimes" those attacks based on a victim's sexual orientation, gender identity or mental or physical disability.

The current law, enacted four decades ago, limits federal jurisdiction over hate crimes to assaults based on race, color, religion or national origin.

The bill would lift a requirement that a victim had to be attacked while engaged in a federally protected activity, like attending school, for it to be a federal hate crime.

House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer urged passage of the Federal Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.

"Hate crimes motivated by race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, and identity or disability not only injure individual victims, but also terrorize entire segments of our population and tear at our nation's social fabric," Hoyer said.

Bush had helped stop such a bill in the last Congress, arguing existing state and federal laws were adequate. But President Barack Obama asked Congress to send it to him to sign into law.

"I urge members on both sides of the aisle to act on this important civil rights issue by passing this legislation to protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance," Obama said in a statement before the vote.

Conviction of a hate crime carries stepped up punishment, above and beyond that meted out for the attack. The bill would allow the federal government to help state and local authorities investigate hate crimes.

Representative Lamar Smith, ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, helped lead the charge against the bill, arguing it was misdirected and discriminatory.

"All violent crimes must be vigorously prosecuted," Smith said. "Unfortunately, this bill undermines one of the most basic principles of our criminal justice system -- 'equal justice for all.'"

"Justice will now depend on the race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or other protected status of the victim," Smith said. "It will allow different penalties to be imposed for the same crime."

Earlier this year, Congress passed two other major bills derailed during the Bush administration.

One, vetoed by Bush, would have expanded a federal health insurance program for children. The other, blocked by Bush's fellow Republicans in the Senate, would have reversed a U.S. Supreme Court ruling to make it easier to sue for discrimination in the workplace.

With Democrats having won the White House and expanded their control of Congress in the 2008 election, both measures were among the party's top 2009 legislative priorities. And they became among the first bills Obama signed into law.

(Editing by Eric Beech)

Police Terrorism and the Global Economic Crisis: Implications for Workers and the Oppressed

Police Terrorism and the Global Economic Crisis: Implications for Workers and the Oppressed

As the capitalist downturn deepens state repression escalates against people in the U.S. and internationally

by Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Over the last several months, a series of dramatic cases involving police killings of civilians have brought to light the essential role of law-enforcement within capitalist societies. Numerous cities throughout the United States have seen a dramatic increase in the murder of African Americans by cops as well as the escalation of raids and deportations against immigrants both legal and undocumented.

Although the problem of police terrorism and repression has existed for well over a century in the U.S., even going back to the period of slavery and the post-civil war era, since the beginning of this decade, there have been disturbing trends indicating that the level of repression is reaching critical proportions. This rise in reported incidents of police brutality and killings of civilians is taking place at the same time as the economic underpinnings of low-wage capitalism continues to deteriorate.

In regard to the repression carried out against the immigrant communities in the U.S., a Human Rights Watch report released on April 15 pointed out that the overwhelming majority of forced removals are carried out for relatively benign reasons that do not pose any threat to the larger communities where the deportees live. In fact approximately 75% of all non-citizens deported from the country over the last ten years after serving prison and jail sentences had been convicted of nonviolent offenses.

According to the Human Rights Watch Report, entitled "Forced Apart: Non-Citizens Deported Mostly for Nonviolent Offenses", 20% of those forcefully ejected had been in the United States legally, sometimes for decades. The report illustrates that most victims of deportations had been convicted of crimes such as drug possession and traffic offenses.

Alison Parker, the deputy director of the U.S. Program of Human Rights Watch and author of the report, said that "In 12 years of enforcing the 1996 deportation laws, no one bothered to ask whether ICE actually focused on the target group--undocumented immigrants convicted of serious, violent crimes. We now know that a good number of people who are here legally and who are convicted of nonviolent offenses are regularly swept into the dragnet." (Human Right Watch, April 15)

In utilizing Census data and figures reported by the Pew Hispanic Center, Human Rights Watch estimates that over 1 million people have been effected by these deportations through family separations and the consequent economic and social consequences of these actions carried out by ICE, which operates under the rubric of the Department of Homeland Security.

"We have to ask why, in a time of fiscal crisis, significant immigration enforcement funds are being spent on deporting legal residents who already have been punished for their crimes," says Alison Parker. "Many of these people have lived in the country legally for decades, some have served in the military, others own businesses. And often, they are facing separation from family members, including children, who are citizens or legal residents." (Human Rights Watch, April 15)

Disproportionate Impact of Police Killings

In addition to the escalation of deportations within immigrant communities, the African American population has been severely effected by the misconduct and brutality of law-enforcement agencies throughout the country. Most of the killings are deemed as "justifiable homicide" by the prosecuter's offices and these notions are often reinforced by the corporate media which portrays African Americans as violent prone and criminally inclined.

During the summer of 2007, the publications ColorLines and the Chicago Reporter carried out a collaborative national investigation of police shootings in the 10 largest cities in the United States. As a result of this effort, a number of trends emerge related to police-community relations in urban areas.

African Americans were highly affected disproportionately as victims of fatal police shootings. The most highly noticeable areas of the country where this phenomena existed was in New York, San Diego and Las Vegas. In each of these urban areas, the percentage of African Americans killed by law-enforcement was twice the number of their proportion within the population of these cities.

According to Delores Jones-Brown, who at the time of the study was the interim director of the Center on Race, Crime and Justice at John Jay College in New York, "There is a crisis of perception where African American males and females take their lives in their hands just walking out the door. There is a notion they will be perceived as armed and dangerous. It's clear that it's not just a local problem." (ColorLines, Issue #41, Nov/Dec 2007)

At the same time this above-mentioned study also points out that the number of Latinos killed by law-enforcement is rising. Beginning in 2001, "the number of incidents in which Latinos were killed by police in cities with more than 250,000 people rose four consecutive years, from 19 in 2001 to 26 in 2005. The problem was exceptionally acute in Phoenix, which had the highest number of Latinos killed in the country." (ColorLines, #41)

ColorLines states in their report that between 1980 and 2005, 9,500 people around the country were killed by the police. This on average is one person per day who dies as a result of aggressive police actions against civilians.

"Unless we begin to hold these officers accountable in these cases, they'll only grow in number and signficance," Jones-Brown said.

Police killings of African Americans and other people of color have resulted in massive protests, the formation of anti-brutality coalitions and urban rebellions. In Cincinnati during the early part of the decade, cops shot to death more people than any other city of similar size with the exception of Minneapolis.

In a study conducted by the Dayton Daily News in 2001, Cincinnati was second only to Minneapolis in the number of people shot. Minneapolis police shot 29 people between 1995 and 2001, resulting in the deaths of 12 individuals. In Cincinnati police shot 22 people during the same time period, 13 resulting in fatalities. Another two died after they were sprayed with chemical agents while being attacked by the cops. (Common Dreams, April 28, 2001)

In Cincinnati, the fatal shooting of an unarmed African American man on April 7, 2001 sparked three days of rebellion. The community was mobilized through the formation of a Black United Front and the Justice Department established a monitoring commission to encourage reforms within law-enforcement.

More recently, the killing of African American men in New Orleans, Louisiana and Oakland, California drew national attention. Adolf Grimes III was shot 12 times in the back by the New Orleans police on December 31, 2008.

Grimes, who was an alumni of one of the city's most prestigous high schools, had no criminal record. Grimes was the father of an 18-month-old baby and a hard working man living in Houston, Texas. He was visiting his family in New Orleans when he was killed by the police.

Oscar Grant III of Oakland was killed the same day by the transit police in the city. He had been detained by officers and was then shot in the back. As a result of outrage in the community, youth erupted in rebellion for several days. The community anger and fightback resulted in the indictment of the officer involved in his killing.

In the city of Detroit on April 10, young 16-year-old Robert Mitchell died after being tased by Warren Police, a neighboring suburb. Mitchell, known as "Tazzy" by family and friends, was described by his mother as having a "learning disability."

Mitchell was in a car that was pulled over by Warren Police for no apparent reason. Although police claim that the license plate was expired, this allegation proved to be false and no ticket was issued or arrests made in the stop.

Mitchell, fearing for his safety, ran into Detroit and was chased by the Warren cops. He was later tased in an abandoned house on Pelkey Street and died. His family has recently filed a wrongful death civil suit in federal court.

The cops involved in his death have not been charged with any crime or have they been disciplined by the city of Warren. The cops have returned to regular police duties after an internal investigation.

A Global Problem

The use of state repression to control, contain and exploit oppressed and working people is an international problem. In February and March of 2009, the workers of Guadeloupe and Martinique in the French-controlled Caribbean launched a general strike against the impact of the global economic crisis and the racist-colonial control of their islands.

The French colonial state sent in hundreds of riot police to suppress the strike. In Guadeloupe strike supporter Jacques Bino was killed during a confrontation between the French police and striking unionists and youth. The French took no action against the police involved in this incident.

As a result of police repression against the strike, rebellions erupted in both Martinique and Guadeloupe in February and March. As a result of the discipline of the workers and their organizations, the strike demands were largely meet by the French colonial authorities, however, the presence of riot police illustrated clearly that law-enforcement agencies within a capitalist and colonial society serves the interests of the ruling classes.

In Kenya during early March, two human rights activists, who had provided evidence to United Nations investigators over execution-style killing by authorities, were assassinated on a busy Nairobi street. Oscar Kamau Kingara, the director of the Oscar Foundation, along with the program coordinator of the agency, John Paul Oulo, were shot in their vehicle by gunmen just several blocks away from the presidential palace.

The Guardian of the UK reported that "Only a few hours earlier the government had publicly accused their organization, which runs free legal aid clinics for the poor, of being a front for a criminal gang.... The Oscar Foundation made its name investigating police abuses. Since 2007 it has reported 6,452 'enforced disappearances' by police and 1,721 extrajudicial killings." (Guardian, March 6, 2009)

Kenya's government has been supported by the United States for many years. As a result of the corporate media generated hysteria surrounding the seizure of cargo vessels by Somalis in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, the U.S. and other imperialist states have called for the formation of an international "piracy court" to prosecute Somalis caught on the waters off the coast in the Horn of Africa. This "piracy court" would be based in Kenya and funded by the imperialists.

In Nigeria, where U.S. multi-national oil companies have exploited the national resources of the people for decades, police repression is a major force in maintaining the status-quo. As a result of the high incidence of police killings, Human Rights Watch urged that "Nigeria's government should launch an independent public inquiry in light of official statistics indicating that police have shot and killed more than 8,000 Nigerians since 2000. The figures show 785 killed in just three months this year (2007), while the true number of people killed by the police since 2000 may exceed 10,000." (Human Rights Watch, November 18, 2007)

Economic Crisis Will Breed More Repression

In the United States, the impact of the economic crisis has impacted the African American community at a far higher rate than the white population. In a recent report issued by the Center for American Progress entitled "Weathering the Storm: Black Men in the Recession", the study points out that the current economic downturn is taking a devastating toll on African American males.

The reports says that "March was one of the worst months for layoffs on record. The current recession has been particularly difficult for the manufacturing and construction industries--two industries in which black men are disproportionately employed. Many workplaces have also implemented hiring freezes, a more important and less acknowledged contribution to sharply rising rates of unemployment.

"Black men's unemployment rate of 15.4 percent in March 2009 was more than twice that of white men and up almost 7 percentage points from a year earlier. One recent study called African American's economic situation 'a silent economic depression,' in which soaring levels of unemployment impose significant social costs on black families and entire communities." (Weathering the Storm, pp. 2-3)

As a result of this growing crisis, it is not surprising that police repression and terrorism will escalate against working people in general and the oppressed national groups in particular. The growing levels of state violence can only be counteracted through mass organization and mobilization.

The demand for a complete end to police brutality and terrorism must also coincide with calls for a real jobs program aimed at the unemployed and underemployed in the United States. Any genuine economic stimulus package must take into consideration the rapidly rising unemployment and poverty rates in the African American and other oppressed communities throughout the country.

The failure of the United States government to participate in the recently concluded Durban Review Conference in Geneva speaks volumes in regard to the state's lack of commitment to address the worsening problems related to national oppression and economic exploitation. It is essential that the coalitions that have sprung up around the country to fight foreclosures, evictions and utility shut-offs must also advance demands to create meaningful employment aimed at putting the jobless back to work with all deliberate speed.
Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire and has written extensively on the global economic crisis and its impact on working people and the nationally oppressed in the United States and around the world.

China Concerned Over Africa's Setbacks From Global Financial Crisis

07:56, April 29, 2009

Deputy speaker: China concerned over Africa's setbacks from global financial crisis

China is concerned over the difficulties that African countries are suffering from the global financial crisis and hope to work together with them to tide over the difficulties posed by the crisis, said a Chinese deputy speaker here on Tuesday.

China will continue to increase its aid to Africa despite the impact of the global financial crisis, said Abulaiti Abudurexiti, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

He cited a case in point in the commitment made by Chinese President Hu Jintao during the recent G20 summit in London.

Chinese President Hu said at the summit that his country will, within its capability, continue to increase its aid to Africa, reduce or cancel African countries' debts, expand its trade and increase investment in Africa, fulfilling the commitments it made during the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2006.

Abulaiti, also president of the China-Africa Friendship Association, is on a two-day visit to Ethiopia.

During his talks with Degefi Bula, speaker of the House of Federation, the Chinese deputy speaker said China and Ethiopia have enjoyed long-standing friendship over the past several decades, adding that the two countries have witnessed frequent high-level exchange of visits, stronger mutual political trust and fruitful economic cooperation in recent years.

Degefi, for his part, said Africa and China should enhance coordination in efforts to eliminate the adverse effects of the financial crisis.

He expressed his gratitude to Chinese government for its support to Ethiopia in particular and to Africa in general even in time of global economic meltdown.

Degefi said the Ethio-Chinese relations had a firm foundation and traced as far back in history as the age of maritime voyage.

He said the participation of Chinese investors in Africa is creating jobs for many Africans, which eventually is supporting the economies of the countries.

Degefi said Ethiopia is benefiting from the participation of the Chinese investors engaged in various sectors in the country.

He added Ethiopian is desirous to scale up the relations of the two countries to a higher level.

Source: Xinhua

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

DRC News Update: Refugees in Zambia Urged to Return Home; Report on Children and War

EU, UN urge DRC refugees in Zambia to return home

Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:14pm EDT
By Haggai Chilabi

KALA CAMP, Zambia, April 28 (Reuters) - The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR and the European Union urged Congolese refugees on Tuesday to return home from Zambia, warning food aid could dry up as agencies focus on other humanitarian projects.

Officials at Kala Camp said out of 18,549 people that the UNHCR planned to repatriate this year to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), only 129 had registered for the voluntary programme.

Junior Home Affairs Minister Misheck Bonshe said Zambia may shut down the camp and warned that refugees who refused to leave would be treated as illegal immigrants. The repatriation programme, which will resume in May, has been suspended several times due to funding shortfalls and heavy rains.

During a visit to the camp 1,080 km (670 miles) north of Lusaka, officials from the UNHCR and the EU made a joint appeal to refugees to return to the DRC.

"We ask that you take this as the best opportunity to go home because (our) support will not be in perpetuity," said James Lynch, the resident UNHCR representative.

"There will be other competing events that need our support, so that means we will not be able to provide (your requirements) as before."

Officials say 45,307 refugees out of a total of 81,684 refugees still living in Zambia are from the DRC.

Years of fighting between Congo's army, local ethnic militias and troops from neighbouring states have sent waves of refugees fleeing across most of the vast nation's land borders, straining the resources of nearby countries.

Derek Fee, head of the European Union delegation to Zambia, said that the EU would focus on assisting refugees who have returned to the DRC.

"Now that conditions back home are conducive for your return, our assistance to UNHCR will shift more to DRC to help with your re-integration in the DRC," Fee said.

(Writing by Shapi Shacinda)

Congo-Kinshasa: Surrenders of Rwandan Rebels in Eastern DR Congo Ramp Up, UN Says

27 April 2009

The number of Rwandans laying down their arms and leaving militias that terrorize civilians in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has multiplied four-fold on a monthly basis compared to last year, the United Nations reported today.

Rwandan rebels are now surrendering at a rate of 146 fighters a month, according to the UN mission in the DRC (MONUC), with more than 660 heeding the mission's call to return to civilian life since the start of this year, along with 1000 of their dependents.

This past weekend, another 10 members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) surrendered to a joint UN-Congolese army patrol near Goma. The rebels brought with them 31 of their dependents along with a sizable arsenal of weapons, MONUC said.

The mission said the new additions to its disarmament program are now being processed for repatriation to Rwanda.

It called on remaining FDLR fighters to follow suit, offering them and their families a chance for a decent future and stressing that life in the bush will only become more and more difficult from now on.

The voluntary disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reintegration and rehabilitation (DDRRR) programme for the ex-militia is managed by MONUC, while civilians are repatriated by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

The FDLR and other Rwandan militias have been a key factor in the resurgence of violence in North Kivu province, where over 100,000 civilians have been uprooted by fighting in the past two months, in addition to the many hundreds of thousands previously displaced.

The ethnic Hutu rebels, who recently carried out a wave of retaliatory attacks against civilians after being targeted by a joint Congolese and Rwandan military offensive, have been operating in eastern DRC since the 1994 genocide of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda.

DRC: Thousands of civilians trapped in east as clashes resume

KINSHASA, 24 April 2009 (IRIN) - Thousands of civilians in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are trapped amid clashes between government forces and Rwandan rebels.

“The two sides accuse the civilians of helping their enemies. Some houses have been occupied by the army,” said Nestor Yombo, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

He identified the areas in Lubero territory affected by clashes between the DRC army and the Forces democratique pour la liberation du Rwanda (FDLR) as Kanyabayonga, Kirumba, Kayna, Luofu, Kasiki, Miriki, Masika, Kanyatsi, Kalonge, Bingi, among others.

The FDLR presence here follows their forced departure during a joint operation by troops from both DRC and Rwanda in mid-January.

Yombo said that during the heaviest recent fighting on 17 April in Luofu and Kasiki, 16 people were killed, including six children who were burned to death. Hundreds of houses were torched and the local health centre looted.

The DRC army and the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, known as MONUC. are currently setting up a joint operation against the FDLR.

MONUC military spokesman Jean-Paul Dietrich said the FDLR attacked Luofu while peacekeeping troops were deployed in a nearby village.

“They [peacekeepers] reacted as soon as we learnt there was gunfire in Luofo. The FDLR was targeting the army and not civilians and some huts caught fire because of the gunfire,” he said.

Some aid agencies have delivered essential humanitarian supplies to Luofu, said Yombo.

Fears over child soldiers

NAIROBI, 22 April 2009 (IRIN) - More child soldiers are to be demobilised in South Kivu Province, but concerns remain because some of those freed earlier have ended up in the national army, Radhika Coomaraswamy, special representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict, has told a news conference in Kinshasa.

About 1,200 children have been released from various militias since January. However, any that have joined specially designated brigades within the national army will not be allowed to stay.

"The new Congolese army cannot afford to have children in its ranks and the integration process is a unique opportunity to identify and release them," she said.

At a transit centre in Masisi, she heard stories of grave human rights violations: "Sexual violence remains one of the most critical concerns in the DRC, devastating the lives of thousands of girls," she said.

R. Coomaraswamy: 48% of the victims of sexual violence in the DRC are children

Kinshasa, April 21, 2009 - Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for children and armed conflict, gave a press conference today in Kinshasa at the end of her eight day visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where she gave an account of her visit, which included Goma and Masisi in North Kivu and Dungu in Orientale province.

Ms. Coomaraswamy noticed that “the recent major political developments offer opportunities for the liberation of children associated with armed groups.”

Since January 2009, 1,300 children were liberated during the process of accelerated integration of the CNDP (National Congress for the Defence of the People) and other armed groups into the FARDC (DRC Armed Forces).

After her meeting today with the DRC Minister for Defence, Ms. Coomaraswamy said she obtained his agreement so that the representatives of MONUC’s Child Protection division, and also those of other UN agencies, in particular UNICEF, are present at the FARDC integration sites in order to check for the presence of children.

“The new Congolese army cannot be allowed to have children in its ranks, and the process of integration is a single opportunity to identify and release them,” said the Special Representative.

As for the problem of sexual violence, the Special Representative said that 48% of victims in the DRC are minors, and that 67% of those responsible are men in uniform.

She thus asked Alan Doss, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the DRC, to advocate to the President of the Republic Joseph Kabila for the creation of a post of special envoy within the Presidency, to tackle the fight against sexual violence.

Ms. Coomaraswamy said that the Ministry of the Interior with the support of UNICEF will create a special unit within the Congolese police, in the fight against sexual violence.

She also cited the fight against impunity, which “is one of the priorities for the civilian populations”. In this regard, she underlined the good work of the military auditors of South Kivu province but noted that there was still much to be done.

Furthermore, Ms. Coomaraswamy said that the dependents of soldiers needed more assistance. She cited the need for the creation of military barracks to shelter these families and to give access to education for the soldiers’ children.

Displaced people were also a cause of concern for the Special Representative, and she stressed that it is necessary to include the education of displaced children as one of the programme priorities for humanitarian actors,

Ms. Coomaraswamy finally advocated for the creation of a modern and professional DRC army without children in its ranks, and demanded of international donors to contribute to the funding of programmes for the rehabilitation of children liberated from armed groups.

“Except for the French government’s pilot programme, there are no long term (three year) reintegration and rehabilitation programmes for children liberated from armed groups in the DRC. I met with the ambassadors of donor countries, and explained to them that the need for extra funding was a priority,” the Special Representative concluded.

EU Planes Seen as Crucial by Imperialists Against Somali Piracy

Planes seen as crucial against Somali piracy

Tue Apr 28, 2009 3:41pm GMT
By Jonathan Saul

LONDON (Reuters) - More spotter planes are urgently needed by the European Union's naval force to combat Somali pirates operating off the horn of Africa country's coast, senior naval officers said on Tuesday.

Somali pirates have made millions of dollars in ransoms hijacking commercial vessels in the busy shipping lanes of the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, despite patrols by foreign navies off the Somali coast, disrupting aid supplies and trade routes.

The EU launched its naval operation in December with at least 12 of the 27-member states involved with four to eight warships deployed in the region.

But the force currently has one permanent aircraft available for the mission with another plane seconded for now.

"The shortage for us is actually not in warships but in maritime patrol aircraft," said Richard Farrington, chief of staff for the EU's "Operation Atalanta", which is headquartered in England.

"This is a really critical area for us and we need more," Farrington told Reuters in an interview.

The lack of planes was critical in the Somali basin area.

"It does constrain us," he said on the sidelines of a piracy conference in London.

"The EU operation could bring better results if more aircraft were sent ... European aircraft with long range, useful in detecting (pirate) motherships that can then be inspected by special forces teams," Greek Commodore Antonios Papaioannou, a former commander of the EU force, told Reuters in a separate interview in Athens on Tuesday


The London-based International Maritime Bureau has said piracy incidents nearly doubled in the first quarter of 2009, almost entirely due to Somalia and there were 18 attacks off its coast in March alone.

"We haven't solved the problem, but we've made the pirates' operations more difficult," Papaioannou said, noting that the EU mission could contain but not eradicate piracy as long as law and order were not restored in Somalia.

Papaioannou said there were between 800 and 2,000 pirates, mostly aged between 16 and 25.

Unemployed young men with no work, money or prestige within their tribal groups have been attracted to piracy, gaining wealth and status among their peers.

Farrington, a captain in Britain's Royal Navy, said the forces were dealing with an invisible enemy.

"He is operating in a completely lawless society," Farrington said. "He does not wear a black patch on his eye, he does not carry a parrot: he is extremely hard to find."

Farrington said with resources he would aim to carry out a patrol every day using aircraft both in the Somali basin and the Gulf of Aden, without giving further details.

Currently naval forces from more than a dozen countries, including Russia, China and the United States, are trying to tackle piracy off Somalia's coast.

Farrington rejected some analysts' views that a lack of coordination between the naval forces was hampering the effectiveness of tackling the seaborne gangs.

"Maritime forces are naturally able to coordinate with each other -- it's a fact," he said.

Earlier this week an Italian cruise ship used guns and a fire hose to beat off an attack by pirates.

Farrington said the use of armed security guards on merchant vessels was a concern.

"As soon as you start firing back at them you do run a risk of escalation and retaliation which I think you need to take quite seriously," he said. "You should leave military action to the military."

Egyptian Woman Dies of Bird Flu, 3rd Fatality in a Week

Friday April 24, 2009 MYT 2:00:17 AM

Egyptian woman dies of bird flu, 3rd fatality in a week

CAIRO (Reuters) - A 33-year-old Egyptian woman has died of the H5N1 bird flu virus, Egypt's third human death from bird flu in a week, the state news agency MENA said on Friday.

The woman, Saadiya Mohamed Abdel Latief Hamed, died in Kafr El-Sheikh province and is Egypt's 26th bird flu victim, MENA said, citing a health ministry statement.

She was admitted to hospital on April 15 suffering from fever and difficulty breathing, and tests confirmed she was infected with H5N1 avian flu. MENA said she had been exposed to infected household poultry.

A 6-year-old boy and a 25-year-old woman died from the H5N1 virus on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, and an Egyptian woman contracted the virus on Thursday.

Egypt, harder hit by bird flu than any other country outside Asia, has seen a surge of cases in recent weeks, with eight new human infections in April alone -- as many as in all of 2008.

Most of the Egyptians infected this year have been young children. While the avian influenza virus rarely infects people, experts say they fear it could mutate into a form that people could easily pass to one another, which might spark a pandemic that could kill millions.

Since 2003, H5N1 has infected more than 400 people in 15 countries and killed more than 250. It has killed or forced the culling of more than 300 million birds in 61 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

Most Egyptians infected with bird flu had come into contact with infected domestic birds in a country where some 5 million households depend on their poultry as a significant source of food and income.

The World Health Organisation said this month it was concerned some Egyptians may carry the bird flu virus without showing symptoms, and this could give the virus more scope to mutate to a strain that spreads easily among humans. Whether such cases exist will be the focus of a planned Egyptian government study, backed by the global health body.

Mahmud Abbas Refuses to Recognise Israel

Abbas refuses to recognise Israel


Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas yesterday refused to accept Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand to recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

"A Jewish state, what is that supposed to mean?" Abbas asked in a speech in the West Bank’s political capital of Ramallah.

"You can call yourselves as you like, but I don’t accept it and I say so publicly."

Abbas said the topic was "extensively discussed" and rejected by the Palestinians during a November 2007 international conference in Annapolis, near Washington, during which the two sides relaunched peace negotiations.

Netanyahu has demanded the Palestinians recognise Israel as a Jewish state as part of an eventual peace deal.

Such a move would amount to an effective renunciation of the right of return of refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, when Israel was created, a cherished principle of the Palestinians.

Abbas also criticised Israel’s firebrand Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who said the new cabinet was not bound by the previous government’s decision taken at Annapolis to relaunch peace talks with the Palestinians.

"Lieberman is in a class by himself. He has yet to learn the art of politics and he has not yet practised politics enough.

"He is an adversary, he has come to say ‘no’ and ‘I reject’ and every chance he gets he comes up with a new refrain," he said.

On the latest round of Palestinian reconciliation talks which opened yesterday in Cairo, Abbas said if the parties managed to form a unity government, that cabinet would have to abide by past Israeli-Palestinian accords.

"It is the government and its members that should respect such deals and not movements," Abbas said.

He was referring to the Hamas movement ruling Gaza whose refusal to recognise past deals, to renounce violence and to recognise Israel has prompted the West to blacklist the Islamist group as a terror outfit. — AFP.