Monday, May 31, 2010

U.S. Imperialism Announces New Covert Action Plan in Africa

U.S. Imperialism Announces New Covert Action Initiative in Africa

More interference planned in the internal affairs of the continent

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Recent international press reports indicate that the U.S. military has started a renewed covert action plan to send special operations commandos into areas of the Horn of Africa, the Middle-East and Asia. The objective of the covert action policy is in part to carry out targeted assassinations against people considered enemies of the United States.

The secret directive was issued and signed in September 2009 by Gen. David H. Petraeus, head of the U.S. Military Central Command. The seven-page document has been described as both the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Executive Order as well as the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Execute Order.

Even though the reports claim that the Task Force will go after al-Qaeda and its affiliates, the Order will target areas in the Horn of Africa where resistance forces are operating against U.S.-backed regimes in Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti. In Somalia, the fragile Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has received substantial financial and military assistance from the U.S. administrations of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

In a New York Times article published on May 24, Mark Mazzetti reported that “While the Bush administration had approved some clandestine military activities far from designated war zones, the new order is intended to make such efforts more systematic and long term, officials said. Its goals are to build networks that could 'penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy' Al Qaeda and other militant groups, as well as to 'prepare the environment' for future attacks by American or local military forces, the document said. The order, however, does not appear to authorize offensive strikes in any specific countries.” (New York Times, May 24)

This recent revelation related to U.S. covert operations seems to designate to the Pentagon tasks which were previously carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA has voiced no opposition to the Petraeus order which continues the pattern of covert operations such as drone attacks and other forms of targeted assassinations against those considered enemies of the United States.

According to the document quoted in the New York Times, “The order from Central Command is focused on gathering intelligence in the target countries ‘by American troops, foreign businesspeople, academics or others, ‘to pinpoint threats, identify militants and forge persistent situational awareness’.” (Associated Press, May 25)

This document confirms the increasing aggressive military and intelligence operations on the part of the Obama administration. The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) has received additional funding under Obama while increased military maneuvers and joint operations have been carried out in West Africa and off shore in the Gulf of Guinea.

U.S. foreign policy in Africa has targeted Somalia in order to prevent the resistance forces of Hizbul Islam and Al-Shabab from taking power from the U.S.-backed TFG. Also the neighboring Ethiopian government of Meles Zenawi has been closely allied with the U.S. and receives significant military assistance from Washington.

In Djibouti both France and the U.S. maintain military bases inside the country. Off shore in the Gulf of Aden, the U.S., the European Union and other states have flotillas of warships designed to prevent attacks on vessels flowing through one of most lucrative shipping lanes in the world.

Other states targeted for U.S. covert operations include Sudan in central Africa where the government has come under pressure for its efforts to quell a rebel insurgency in the western region of Darfur. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued warrants for the arrests of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and other leading government officials.

Even though the United States is not party to the ICC, the foreign policy of the Obama administration and the European Union is designed to bring about regime-change in Sudan. An internationally-supervised election in Sudan during April that resulted in the victory of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the southern-based Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), did not halt the efforts to undermine this African state.

In the southern African nation of Zimbabwe, the United States has continued its plans to topple President Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) from the national unity government that has included the western-backed Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T and MDC-M) political factions. Economic sanctions remain against Zimbabwe and a recent diplomatic assault by U.S. Undersecretary for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, resulted in a rebuke by the Zimbabwean Ambassador to the United States. (Zimbabwe Herald, May 26)

In Nigeria, the Obama administration has placed nationals from the oil-producing West African state on a list that requires special scrutiny at airports for flights bound for the United States. In a recent statement, the U.S. made demands on how the electoral commission should be structured inside Nigeria saying that preparations for national elections were not moving fast enough. (News Agency of Nigeria, May 31)

Such actions by the United States illustrates clearly that this imperialist state is stepping up its efforts to further control the internal affairs of various African states as well as influence and dominate developments in the Middle-East and Central Asia as mandated by the Joint Unconventional Warfare Taskforce.

A History of U.S. Covert Operations in Africa

Covert action aimed at influencing events in Africa has been a hallmark of U.S. foreign policy towards the continent. In areas where there was a perceived threat of genuine political independence and a movement towards socialism, the United States has utilized the Central Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon, the State Department and other organs of the imperialist state to undermine sovereignty and national development.

In Congo during 1960 the Eisenhower administration plotted to isolate, overthrow and assassinate Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. These covert action plans against Lumumba were revealed during Congressional hearings held in 1975 that resulted in the formation of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Idaho Democratic Senator, Frank Church.

One former National Security staffer, Robert Johnson, testified at these hearings about a high level meeting between President Eisenhower and top ranking intelligence officers in 1960 where a decision was made to assassinate Patrice Lumumba. As a result of Lumumba’s assassination and other destabilization activities, the country has never been able to achieve genuine national independence over a period of five decades. (The Congo Cables, Madelaine Kalb, 1982, p. 54)

In February 1966, the revolutionary and socialist-oriented government of President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana was overthrown by lower-ranking officers of the military and the police. The operation was influenced and coordinated by the U.S. State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

After Nkrumah published his book “Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism” in 1965, a formal protest was launched by the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, former Michigan Governor G. Mennen Williams. In a cable delivered to the then Ghanaian Ambassador to the United States, Miguel Augustus Ribeiro, it stated that “The United States has noted with profound alarm the attacks against the United States in President Nkrumah’s book…. The book appears to have been designed for the specific purpose of creating in the minds of its readers suspicion and distrust of the motives, intentions and actions of the United States. (Kwame Nkrumah, Revolutionary Path, 1973, pp. 310-311)

In 1969, the U.S. administration under Richard Nixon issued the National Security Study Memorandum No. 39 which was designed to rationalize an escalation of support for Portuguese colonial rule in Africa as well as to fortify the political and economic positions of white settler-colonial regimes then operating in Rhodesia, South-West Africa and South Africa. When the South African Defense Forces intervened in Angola to stop the consolidation of power by the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the U.S. worked in collaboration with the SADF through the CIA and private mercenaries.

It was this set of circumstances that prompted the Cuban internationalists coming to the aid of the MPLA and other fraternal African states and liberation movements resulting in the defeat of the SADF over the period between 1975-1988. The United States has never supported any genuine liberation movement in Africa or in other regions of the world.

Anti-Imperialist Must Oppose Covert Action

The adoption of this new covert action initiative on the part of the Pentagon must be opposed by anti-war and anti-imperialist groups inside the United States. These practices will ultimately lead to the deaths of many nationals from the states targeted and the stifling of oppressed and colonial peoples right to self-determination.

Although in 2010 the focus of attention for U.S. imperialism is what they call “Islamic extremism or terrorism,” the ultimate objectives of this interference in the internal affairs of African states and other geo-political regions is the same as it was during the 1960s through the 1980s and that is to ensure the political and economic dominance of world capitalism over the resources of the planet.

People inside the U.S. and other imperialist countries must demonstrate their principled solidarity by opposing these military operations. Anti-Imperialists must also advance the right of all oppressed people to independence and sovereignty.

Cynthia McKinney Mourns the Dead of the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza

Cynthia McKinney Mourns the Dead of the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza: People of the U.S. and the world must end Israeli impunity now!

I am outraged at Israel's latest criminal act. I mourn with my fellow Free Gaza travelers, the lives that have been lost by Israel's needless, senseless act against unarmed humanitarian activists. But I'm even more outraged that once again, Israel's actions have been aided and abetted by a U.S. political class that has become corrupted beyond belief due to its reliance on Zionist finance and penetration by Zionist zealots for whom no U.S. weapons system is too much for the Israeli war machine, and the silence of the world's onlookers whose hearts have grown cold with indifference.

I recently visited the offices of IHH, the Turkish humanitarian organization that sponsored one of the Freedom Flotilla boats, and that was targeted by the Israelis for its murderous rampage. Reports are still coming in as to the full extent of the senseless Israeli violence. Of course, I expect Israel's apologists in the press and in the United States government to shift into high gear to support Israel's lying machine. Take note of their names. The 12,000 internet squatters/written word grenade throwers, hired by the Israeli Foreign Ministry to defend Israel and attack peace activists online, are already busy spreading their orchestrated disinformation in cyberspace. Be very careful what you read and believe from special interest press and the internet. You could be reading one of Israel's hired hacks. As a news diversion from what Israel has just done, I suspect that we can also expect to see a lot of historical footage of war's atrocities on television: today is Memorial Day in the United States, a day long ago set aside to remember the sacrifices of U.S. war dead.

I encouraged and supported U.S.S. Liberty veteran Joe Meadors's participation in the Freedom Flotilla. Unfortunately, the fate of the U.S.S. Liberty innocents on the high seas, while in international waters, has now been visited upon the participants in the Freedom Flotilla, in large measure because of the Congressional- and Presidential-level cover-up of the 1967 Israeli attack on that U.S. surveillance ship. Combined with the failure of just about every other effort to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, and crimes against the peace. Belgium and Spain changed their domestic laws of universal jurisdiction after Israeli appeals to do so. The entire musical chairs gang of rotating Israeli leadership are war criminals. During my imprisonment in Israel for attempting to take crayons to the children of Gaza, I called Israel a failed state. If Israel is threatened by unarmed, humanitarian activists to the point of massacring them, then Israel is a failed state. Israel is a failed nuclear state.

Obama's most recent granting of an additional $205 million for Israeli "missile defense" is unconscionable, when in the same week, reports revealed for the first time, Israel's offer of nuclear weapons to apartheid South Africa. Just last week, a paper bearing the signature of former Israeli Prime Minister, Shimon Peres, was released by South Africa, revealing that in 1975, Israel could offer South Africa nuclear weapons "in three sizes." South Africa's then-Minister of Defense, P.W. Botha, was South Africa's signatory to the letter. This information would make the entire Obama Administration look sadly farcical as it points an accusing finger at Iran, except that U.S. obeisance to the Israeli bloodthirst is deadly serious. With deadly outcomes.

Earlier this month, Israel was granted admission to the Organization of Economic and Community Development (OECD), a direct affront to ongoing Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) efforts across the world. Once again, Israel has thumbed its nose at the global community--with bloody results--because it can.

I am proud to serve on the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Palestine. Its next sitting will be in London, where we will examine corporate complicity in Israel's crimes against Palestine. The Tribunal will sit from November 5 - 7. Please put this on your calendar. We all must do what we can, where we are to end wars against the people at home and wars against human rights abroad.

Finally, a friend just sent a message to me saying that the Israelis had lost their minds. Sadly, based on the past, the Israelis could very well conclude that they can do anything--imprison me for trying to take love to the children of Gaza and kill humanitarian activists trying to do the same--because they know, in the end, they'll get away with it. Instead, I would suggest that we are the ones who have lost our minds, our souls, our spirits, and our human dignity if we allow the Israelis to get away with murder--again--and we do nothing.

I am calling on the people of the United States to change course now.

On this Memorial Day 2010, I am stunned and outraged beyond belief while mourning the dead of the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza.

Supreme Court Says African-Americans Did Not File Legal Claim Too Late

Supreme Court Decision Says African-Americans Did Not File Legal Claim Too Late

Affirmative Action has been under attack for over three decades

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Applicants for firefighting jobs in Chicago were jubilant after a May 24 Supreme Court ruling that stated they did not wait too long to seek legal redress after a 1995 test proved to be discriminatory against African-Americans. The decision allows the case of some 6,000 African-Americans to proceed.

The high court ruling is the second of which in recent times related to discrimination in firefighting. In an earlier ruling in 2009, based on a suit filed by white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., the Court in a 5-4 ruling said that the test that had been deemed discriminatory should not have been thrown out.

According to the City of Chicago’s Corporation Counsel Mara Georges, the ruling may place the municipality in a legal bind, costing enormous sums of money to come into compliance with the Supreme Court decision. Georges says that the decision puts the city in a “Catch-22.” (Chicago Tribune, May 24)

"Use the exam results, which have an adverse impact, and risk lawsuits from the group adversely impacted. Or disregard the exam results and risk lawsuits from those who stand to benefit from the results," said Georges. Lawyers for the African-American applicants said that the cost of implementing the decision would be $100 million.

The Supreme Court decision could result in the hiring of 120 African-Americans by the fire department. Moreover, despite the 15-year delay in resolving the case, some of the applicants feel that they are still physically fit to take on the jobs.

According to 48-year-old Handy Johnson, “I took that test wanting to have a job where I could give back to my community and establish a family tradition for my four sons, who would have been very proud of their dad. It was the job of a lifetime, but I was never given that chance,” Johnson said. (Chicago Tribune, May 24)

“It was a huge slap in the face. Now, I feel a hundred pounds lighter. It feels like when you know you have all the odds stacked against you, but in the end God makes sure the righteous prevail.”

The City of Chicago estimates that it will cost approximately $45 million to implement the ruling. This cost will involve the hiring of 120 new firefighters and the payment of damages to 6,000 other applicants who were denied employment based on discriminatory policies.

This case has implications for the notion of disparate impact in relationship to pre-employment qualifications in both public and private sector employment. When there are tests and other so-called objective criteria for hiring, the ruling may provide applicants with legal grounds to make claims related to possible discriminatory impact.

According to the online website Business Insurance “The court's decision last week in Arthur L. Lewis Jr. et al. vs. City of Chicago also makes it more difficult for employers to win summary judgment to dismiss such cases, observers say. While the decision may have a greater effect on public employers, it applies to private employers as well, attorneys say.

“The court's ruling focused on the statute of limitations to file claims in disparate impact discrimination cases. Disparate impact is an employment policy or practice that, while neutral on its face, adversely affects a particular protected group.” (Business Insurance, May 31)

Affirmative Action Under Attack

The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were the result of protracted struggles in the southern, western and northern regions of the United States. Yet with passage of this legislation, it took the advent of urban rebellions and other political activity to get any real movement in regard to the implementation of affirmative action programs.

In the city of Detroit the implementation of programs designed to hire large numbers of African-Americans, women, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people and other oppressed groups only took place after the 1967 rebellion and radical mass struggles in the schools, universities, against private companies and within the municipal governments. After the election of the city’s first African-American Mayor Coleman A. Young in 1973, his administration embarked upon a broad affirmative action program that brought thousands of people from historically disadvantaged groups into city government including police and firefighters.

The frontal assault on affirmative action gained a tremendous boost with the Bakke Decision of 1978 which legally struck down numerical goals in the implementation of admission policies at higher educational institutions. Other challenges took place during the 1980s which impacted the implementation of affirmative action programs.

A Supreme Court decision in June 1989 granted permission to white firefighters in Birmingham, Alabama to challenge an eight-year-old ruling which required the hiring and promotion of African-Americans within the city’s department.

Essentially this decision removed the ability of consent decrees related to such cases to be applied as a means of resolving racial discrimination charges. With the new rulings in effect, white employers or employees had the legal right to challenge the constitutionality of affirmative action programs which favor the hiring and promotion of African-Americans as a measure to correct past discriminatory employment practices.

In another Supreme Court decision during the same year, it was ruled that there were time limitations on how long one could wait to file lawsuits for racial discrimination in employment practices. In the Lorance v. AT&T, No. 87 case, three African-American women who filed suit in 1983 over discriminatory practices dating back to 1979 with AT&T in Aurora, Illinois, had their legal complaint dismissed by the court which declared that cases brought under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act must be filed within 300 days.

During the 1990s and the 2000s, several states passed legislation and held referendums that outlawed affirmative action. In Michigan, after a Supreme Court decision that partially upheld affirmative action at the University of Michigan Law School and its undergraduate school, prompted a right-wing initiated referendum that banned the policy throughout the state.

The recent Supreme Court decision involving the Chicago Firefighters applicants’ case is significant but it will remain to be seen how the ruling will be implemented. Legal rulings have been historically important in fighting discrimination and racism but they have never been a substitute for mass action on the part of the oppressed and their allies.

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the separate but equal decision related to public accomodation in the Plessy v. Ferguson case of 1896 was unconstitutional. Nonetheless, it would take another 15 years of intense and consistent civil rights and black power struggles to achieve minimal movement in regard to school desegregation.

Despite numerous civil rights acts and court rulings in favor of civil rights and affirmative action, African-Americans and other disadvantaged groups within the United States still suffer discrimination and disparate treatment. It will no doubt take the rejuvenation of the anti-racist and non-discrimination movements to push the struggle forward to achieve full equality and self-determination for all oppressed people.

ZANU-PF, Communist Party of China Renew Memorandum of Understanding

Zanu-PF, CPC renew pact

Herald Reporters

Zanu-PF and the visiting Communist Party of China delegation yesterday renewed a Memorandum of Understanding that will see the two parties co-operating in various areas.

The MoU was signed after a CPC delegation led by Cde Wang Gang’s met with Zanu-PF national chairman Cde Simon Khaya Moyo at the party’s headquarters in Harare.

The MoU, Cde Wang said, would provide the basis for the exchange of notes on co-operation between the two countries over the next five years.

Cde Khaya Moyo said China was Zimbabwe’s all-weather friend. He blasted the illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe saying the embargo was impacting negatively on ordinary people.

Said Cde Khaya Moyo: "They are affecting everyone and we are happy that China has pledged to work with us to ensure that they are removed forthwith."

Speaking after meeting Vice President Joice Mujuru at her Munhumutapa offices yesterday, Cde Wang, said: "Negotiations on cotton exportation to China are underway and cotton produced in Zimbabwe is of high quality.

"The prices of cotton should be reasonable and we should consider each other’s benefit," he said.

Cde Wang said China viewed Zimbabwe as a reliable friend and slammed Western interference in the country’s internal affairs.

Cde Wang said: "World affairs should be decided by the world and domestic affairs should be deliberated at local level. We oppose interference in other countries’ internal affairs."

He said the good relations between Zanu-PF and the CPC provided a solid foundation for bilateral relations between Zimbabwe and China.

Speaking at the same occasion, VP Mujuru lauded the Chinese in expressing interest in projects that enhanced the land reform programme.

"As the Government of Zimbabwe, we were looking at how tobacco was being bought by the West and we realised that since the coming in of Chinese companies the prices of tobacco have increased.

"You should also consider cotton production and we are more interested in these crops because they are the crops that the new farmers are growing," she said.

VP Mujuru said Zimbabwe recently received a number of delegations from China that were keen on investing in fields such as mining and farming.

Government, she said, was working on how these projects could be implemented.

VP Mujuru hailed Zimbabwe-China relations saying the Asian country had stood by Zimbabwe during its time of need, such as at the United Nations Security Council.

Meanwhile, the Chinese delegation also paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at his Munhumutapa offices.

PM Tsvangirai said: "The inclusive Government has faced so many challenges and so many successes. It is important to note that the inclusive Government is not falling and it is irreplaceable to maintain peace and security in the country."

PM Tsvangirai thanked China for supporting Zimbabwe and the inclusive Government.

"We have put aside personal partisan political interests for the sake of our national interest. The objectives of entering into an arrangement with Zanu-PF were to stabilise the economy and prepare for a free and fair election," he said.

Let's Honor Our Own Prophets in Africa

Let’s honour our own prophets

By Dalla Bill
Zimbabwe Herald

YOU don’t know it till its gone . . . you don’t know what you have got . . ." or something like that sang one popular Western singer.

Many times we just listen to the song and we do not put meaning to its words or apply them to our everyday life but it aptly analyses what Zimbabwe has in President Mugabe.

This song was brought to my memory on my recent visit to Tanzania attending training.

The training was attended by participants from Zimbabwe, Tanzania, South Africa, Malawi, Rwanda, Burundi, Comoros, Liberia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal to mention a few.

It drew participants from all over Africa. We all analysed the role President Mugabe has played in Zimbabwe and found out that black citizens of many African countries, wished he was their president.

The training had participants from very diverse backgrounds and history. What struck me most was their common interest about the situation in my motherland, Zimbabwe.

This writer and my colleague (the only two participants from Zimbabwe) had a torrid time trying to update colleagues about the situation back home.

Issues that were of interest include the inclusive Government outstanding issues, indigenisation and empowerment and the land reform.

There is genuine interest about our welfare from our brothers and sisters in Africa. Some of the participants were knowledgeable about our current affairs. Some relied mostly on the media especially the Western media while others needed to hear it from the people on the ground.

This explains why I was never short of people on my table during lunch or any other break. My room after class was always occupied, people wanting to know and having debates about the current affairs.

These people were interested to know how we have managed to live this long under sanctions and still lived to tell the story. They wanted to hear how the economy managed to survive though mostly on its knees the onslaught of the imperialists.

In my interactions with the other participants it dawned to me that other Africans really admired us and the revolutions that we are going through. Some even wished there had a leader like President Mugabe.

One guy from South Africa actually said masses in South Africa wished they had their own Mugabe. Another colleague from Rwanda concurred and said if Africa had six leaders of President Mugabe’s calibre, then Africa would be different from what it is right now. This Rwandese guy had speeches of our President on his laptop that is how much he follows the president.

The way these guys were admiring and appreciating what our President and the party did for Zimbabweans first the land reform and now the indigenisation and empowerment drive was mind blowing.

When I pointed the challenges we had to go through the past decade they had one answer for me; these are the pains of a revolution, the sacrifices of the struggle.

Regardless of what they had heard or seen on the media they highly esteem President Mugabe as the best thing that has happened to Africa. I realise surely mapudzi anowira kusina hari here are foreigners appreciating Cde Mugabe and back home we still have some who hate him with a passion. I was proud of our leader and to be from Zimbabwe the only republic described as independent from colonialism.

President Mugabe was described as a fearless, principled, a visionary and dedicated leader whose only ‘‘crime’’ was to challenge and fight imperialists and their machinations. A true Pan Africanist, who loves Africa and Zimbabwe, is President Mugabe. A leader with a spine to stand up to Britain and her allies.

I could not agree with them more. Cde Mugabe has proved to be what the doctor has ordered for Africa in this phase of the struggle for independence and total emancipation of Africa.

A colleague from Liberia said its unfortunate that age is catching up with Cde Mugabe, Africa still wants the man to lead the fight against imperialism like what Kwame Nkrumah did as he led the fight against colonialism. He has proven to be the voice of many African leaders especially on international fora. How many African leaders can tell the West to go and hang? Many fear the sanctions and the withdrawal of aid. They dread losing their honorary degrees, but not Cde Mugabe, who does not suffer from a crisis of achievement, he has stood firm in the face of adversity all in the effort to totally liberate Zimbabwe.

I personally admire his love for the country, his patriotism and how he stands for his values, principles and beliefs. How many are changed by the love of donor funds?

As Zimbabwe is celebrating 30 years of independence and self-rule and commemorating Africa Day, I take this opportunity to remind my fellow Zimbabweans of a leader we have.

A leader in the model of the long gone fathers of Africa like Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba and others. As a people we need to appreciate what God has given to us.

A leader who put his reputation on the line for the masses. What more could we ask for — Cde Mugabe could have chosen the Mandela route, retiring quietly without stepping on the toes of uncle Sam, he would be still be pampered by the West, given awards, degrees and having statues erected in his honour in London square. But no he chose to fight for the people thereby making himself enemy number one of the West.

In the eyes of the West, Cde Mugabe was setting a wrong precedent for other Africans and he had to be taught a lesson, hence the sanctions.

The economic challenges we faced the past 10 or so years were meant to make the agrarian reform fail and thus discourage other Africans from following the route.

Thirty years on Cde Mugabe has not wavered, he has stood firm. In the colonial era, the colonialist knew that education leads to emancipation of a human mind. They had segregatory education policy; independence bought new educational policies and more schools for blacks were built. Many so called political analysts and politicians are beneficiaries of that policy.

I was once taught that a man, who rules, should control the means of production. There was never going to be total independence unless and until we controlled the means of production hence the need for land reform.

Some people shunned it thinking it was a Zanu-PF gimmick but how many of us are smiling all the way to the bank after selling tobacco today? Some of us might have missed the land but we will not allow the indigenisation to pass us as well.

We do not want a situation when our children and grandchildren ask, ‘‘where were you when others were empowered through the land reform?’’ In my case, it is the indigenisation and economic empowerment programme? To my fellow Zimbabweans I say this is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.

As a youth I say let us control our resources. As young people we are the future and what future is there if we do not control our mines, companies etc. There is no future to talk about for as long as our resources are used to develop other people. For how long should we standby and look as our resources are being looted? De Beers did it in Chiadzwa in the name of exploration.

What exploration when the diamonds were used for bird shooting by the villagers? Forget what Maridadi said, this is not Junior 3 Maridadi its a matter of destiny of life and death, we used to enjoy together during Junior 3 back then but this is not funny.

We the youth and I for one refuse to continue to see white youths of my age enjoying what should be mine! Eating the crumbs when I should be having the cake! Aluta continua comrades!

Its high time Zimbabweans woke up from their slumber and claim what is rightfully theirs. The times to continue to sing for our supper in NGOs and as TV analysts are over. It should be known that anyone against the indigenisation and economic empowerment drive is against the people.

It is time to consolidate the gains of our independence and not to reverse it. At 30 years of independence, we have come of age. Many people were glad to hear the President saying there is no going back.

Again those among us criticising are left behind. Its time we all accept that Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans and we need to empower the people now for future generations.

The minority whites we have today were not there when their ancestors colonised this country.

They are where they are today because of what their fathers did for them, the policies they implemented, and the legacy they inherited.

So likewise we owe it to our children and the generations to come. We have to leave an inheritance for our children’s children like what the Bible says. But how can we if we are just mere workers who do not control the means of production?

A salary can never leave a legacy!

President Mugabe and Minister Kasukuwere and other champions of indigenisation should be commended and supported in this drive.

It was refreshing to hear that hundreds of companies have submitted their indigenisation plans. So you it should be clear to Maridadi that the wheels are already turning and there is nothing that can stop us. The challenge was after being in the civil society for some time I realise that what we have been made to believe we are good for nothing only writing proposals and reports; begging for money. It pains my heart to see some of our best brains being wasted all in the name of getting donor funding and being used as pawns in the agenda of imperialist.

Rylander: Just Another Western Diplomat in Zimbabwe

Rylander: Just another Western diplomat

By Tichaona Zindoga
Zimbabwe Herald

On a fine day, he would be imbued in the ambience and aesthetics of Zimbabwean culture and speak glowingly about how "Zimbabwean works of art in their various forms dominate capitals throughout the world."

On another, typical of any European who by the Mighty Will of the Above happens to be in this part of the world — which Europeans christened the Dark Continent — he would be spreading a helping hand to people afflicted by hunger, disease and poverty.

Better still, on another, he would be preaching the sanctity of private property rights and other rights and freedoms accruing to the liberal individual, the typical obsession of that high sounding Eurocentric ideology.

But outgoing Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Sten Rylander, despite coming from a country that supported Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle and opposed apartheid in neighbouring South Africa could not help kow-tow to European Union gangersterism against Zimbabwe.

Rylander came to Zimbabwe with a long track record in the region and having lived 16 years in Southern Africa before coming to Zimbabwe.

He had been to Angola, Namibia, Botswana and Lesotho.

A lot of good will had been expected of him.

He had the extra stripe of having supported liberation movements in the region, characteristic of his country where the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency has been synonymous with progressive humanitarianism.

But having landed into a Zimbabwe that had in the six years to his date of appointment in 2006 been at the centre of a Western illegal regime change agenda spawned by Britain’s displeasure with land reform, Rylander was soon singing a different tune, or so it appeared.

At the occasion of his country’s National Day celebrations on June 6, he advocated "change" saying it was "a positive thing".

Coincidentally, "change" happened to be one of the watchwords of a Western-sponsored regime change outfit called the Movement for Democratic Change.

"Many people seem to be afraid of change for some reasons; or they try to resist change because the process is driven by change agents they cannot fully control," he said.

"But the message is almost always a positive thing. Remember Charles Darwin: ‘It is not the strongest species which survives, nor the most intelligent ones. Rather those who are most responsive to change’."

It did not take long for the ambassador to show which "change" he had in mind.

Apart from rebuffing reports linking him to a softening of the illegal EU stance against Zimbabwe (deriving from imposing sanctions against the Cotonou Agreement Article 96), he also moulded himself into a de facto opposition activist and spokesperson for Zimbabwe’s opposition outfits.

Rylander complained about the de-licensing of Western sponsored anti-Zanu-PF government papers, Daily News and Daily News on Sunday, which had wilfully defied the laws of the land to register.

In March 2007, he was one of the EU diplomats — along with American Christopher Dell — to throng the Harare Magistrates’ courts where MDC leaders were appearing for remand hearing for inciting violence in Highfield.

Part of a charade that could easily be mistaken for a diplomatic meeting of European ambassadors, he spent the greater part of the day at the court waiting to hear the fate of the opposition leaders.

Without any sense of irony, Rylander later wrote in a Western-sponsored weekly about his day at the court, elevating the Western-sponsored MDC’s struggle to unseat Zanu-PF to the South African anti-apartheid struggle.

The West generally supported apartheid in South Africa, with varying degrees of openness among countries.

Rylander was among Western ambassadors seen in the company of MDC activists on different dates, occasions and events undertaken by the so-called Broad Alliance involving the MDC, National Constitutional Assembly, Crisis Coalition, Women of Zimbabwe Arise, Zimbabwe National Students Union, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Christian Alliance.

During his tenure, Rylander was consistently identified with such groups, which dramatically mushroomed in an era of Zimbabwe-EU stand-off and whose sole aim has been to unseat President Mugabe.

In October that year, Rylander even sank so low as to make unsubstantiated claims about Government-sponsored violence against the opposition.

During the Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Fund review meeting in Nyanga, Rylander alleged that Government was sponsoring violence against the opposition but when he was challenged to make good of his claim, he only undertook to "bring concrete evidence", which he never did.

This prompted the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda to write to the United Nations Development Programme resident representative Dr Agostinho Zacarias registering Zimbabwe’s displeasure about Mr Rylander’s conduct.

"It was unfortunate that such an allegation was made at the ZUNDAF meeting which to me is a development forum not a political one," Dr Sibanda wrote.

"The ambassador could surely have addressed his concerns with the appropriate authorities, that is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For him to throw his salvo at the Government of Zimbabwe in a development forum is not only discourteous but also undiplomatic.

"These are serious allegations he is making against a sovereign state. He therefore needs to substantiate them," said Dr Sibanda, in the letter dated November 7, 2007.

It later turned out that the diplomat got his information from a Western sponsored organisation, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Lawyers’ Association, who went on to produce a report with similar claims two weeks after.

Rylander’s baseless claims appeared in sync with the EU’s move to bring Zimbabwe to the agenda of that year’s EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, for alleged human rights abuses.

Earlier, during his summer holiday in July, Mr Rylander had flown home and held a number of interviews with the Swedish radio and television, attacking Zimbabwe for alleged human rights violations, State-sponsored violence and suppression of democratic space.

So the Swedish ambassador, who on the eve of his posting to Zimbabwe had noted the unfairness and predatory instincts of big powers against smaller countries like Zimbabwe, became responsive to British capitalist-inspired change.

Whether by design or consequence, Rylander turned out to be a trifle more than his predecessor, Kristina Svensson who was condemned, even by her own countrymen, for her biased reporting on the situation in Zimbabwe.

However, where Svensson could say Sweden was "motivated to support the future leaders of this country" in reference to the MDC, Rylander could afford to be more circumspect.

He could talk of the so-called individual rights and freedoms with the same regime change notion in mind, witness his celebration of anti-Zanu-PF "independent" media, masking his intentions by reference to his country’s history in media freedom.

Yet it all boiled to the same regime change agenda, which the two fruitlessly tried to precipitate on behalf of Britain.

Three years ago, one analyst reminded Rylander that Zimbabwe did not free itself — even with some Swedish help — to be subjected to Swedish neo-liberal lordship and that Sweden should not fight Britain’s war against Zimbabwe.

"We hate white paternalism," the analyst wrote, "and we are not going to pay for Swedish goodwill by our sovereignty.

"If Rylander and his country do not understand the nature and cause of the present standoff between us and the British, maybe let Sweden never understand it at all. What difference would it make anyway?"

Rylander just never understood, nor cared.

June 1: International Day in Support and Solidarity With the People of Haiti

June 1, 2010: International Day in Support and Solidarity with the People of Haiti

- Yes to aid and international solidarity!
- Stop the military occupation of Haiti!
- No to the attacks on Haiti's sovereignty!

Together with our sisters and brothers we continue to demand:

- The total and unconditional cancellation of all of Haiti's debts,

- The return by France of the US$21 billion stolen from the Haitian Republic in the name of "reparations" following the establishment of the first Black Republic in the world in 1804,

- The immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all occupation troops from the Haiti (UN/MINUSTAH troops, U.S. troops and National Guard, and others),

- For aid and international workers' solidarity with the Haitian people -- and for the respect of Haiti's right to self-determination, for the rights of all peoples to live in peace in sovereign nations.

* * *
These are the main demands contained in the appeal to the international democratic and workers' movements launched by Colia Clark (USA) and Robert Fabert (Guadeloupe) on behalf of the International Commission of Inquiry on Haiti, in collaboration with Fignolé Saint-Cyr, Raphaël Dukens, and Guy Numa on behalf of the Haitian Continuations Committee of that International Commission.

In response to the call for International Solidarity with Haiti, press conferences, rallies, demonstrations, and delegations to government offices will be held on June 1 in many countries throughout the Americas and some European countries. Delegations will be going to the UN; to the office of Brazilian President Inacio "Lula" da Silva, whose army is responsible for the command of UN/MINUSTAH forces; and messages will be sent from around the world to President Barack Obama, whose administration has essentially transformed Haiti into a U.S. protectorate.

This June 1 delegation to the United Nations will also be accompanied by a rally from 10:30 a.m. till 12 noon at UN Plaza (46th Street @ 1st Avenue).

Other activities planned include the following:

- Caribbean Conference on May 28 in Guadeloupe with delegations from Haiti, Martinique, St. Lucia, and Guadeloupe in the framework of the activities of the LKP coalition;

- Rally on June 1 in San Francisco de Macorís (Dominican Republic);

- Mexico: Rally/conference in solidarity with Haiti on May 27 with workers and unions, and delegation to U.S. Embassy (with press conference) on June 1 to deliver demands and conclusions of International Commission of Inquiry. Also: Rally and protest on June 1 in Oaxaca to the U.S. Consulate, and rally at the border between Mexico and the United States in Mexicali;

- Ecuador: Day of Solidarity on 1 June, act in Quito;

- Brazil: Rallies, protests and delegations in Sao Paulo, Salvador, and Brasília;

- Venezuela: press conference and panel discussion organized by trade unions in Maracaibo.

- Demonstrations in Chile, Uruguay, and Peru;
- Delegation in Algeria to the UN offices and press conference;
- Delegation in France to the Foreign Ministry and rally;
- Delegation in the Spanish State to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;

- Haiti: Demonstration in Port-au-Prince.

(For the International Commission of Inquiry on Haiti)

Dear colleagues and friends:

On March 31 a special meeting took place at the UN headquarters in New York regarding donations and the "reconstruction of Haiti."

According to Reuters (March 31), the UN Secretary General announced that, "the newly formed Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti expects to inject US$3.9 billion into various projects over the next 18 months."

The UN General Secretary also "demanded that the UN be sent as soon as possible the US$1.4 billion in humanitarian aid pledged to Haiti, given that half the pledged sum had not yet arrived, as requested."

This type of announcement is not new; after grand proclamations about promised aid to Haiti made over the years, usually presented with great media fanfare, most of the promised aid never materializes. Hence the UN General Secretary's cautious statement about "expected" reconstruction assistance to Haiti.

What is new, however, is the role of the international financial institutions of global capitalism in the disbursement and direct administration of all reconstruction funding for Haiti. The overall and even day-to-day management of these funds has been entrusted to the World Bank, whose president "stressed the importance of coordination to prevent the emergence of islands of development in a sea of deprivation."

This whole operation only underscores the absence of the Haitian State in any reconstruction effort. All of them -- the UN, the imperialist governments, the international financial institutions, the nominal Haitian government -- seem satisfied with this situation. But what will be the fate of the workers, youth, and people of Haiti?

Will every Haitian child be able to go to school -- to a public school, offering free and quality education? Will Haiti have public utilities and services available to assist the people?

"Will an emergency reconstruction plan be put into place to develop domestic production and the Haitian economy -- or will the only "development" funding go to the pass-through, sweatshop industries under misnamed HOPE programs?

Will the Haitian unions be able exercise their full rights without hindrance of any kind, and, most important, without repression by the MINUSTAH (or other occupation) troops and the police?

Dear colleagues and friends:

For there to be any real reconstruction of Haiti -- for there to be a Haiti at the service of the Haitian people -- it is urgent that the Haitian nation be able to regain its sovereignty. And it is precisely to support this process of permitting Haiti to reclaim its sovereignty that the June 1 International Day of Solidarity with the Haitian People is taking place. We urge you to support the activities in each of the countries where actions are planned.

For the International Commission of Inquiry on Haiti,

Robert Fabert

* * * * *
In support of the Haitian people and their sovereignty, I agree with the need to:

- The need for the total and unconditional cancellation of all debts of Haiti.

- The need for all governments that are part of the UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to withdraw their occupation forces from Haiti.


Organization / Title (for id. only):

City & Country


(please fill out and return to . Your petition will be submitted to the UN and to the various governments with occupation troops in Haiti.)

Detroit-Dearborn Demonstrations Against the Israeli Massacre of Solidarity Activists on the Freedom Flotilla, June 1 & 2, 4:00pm

Two protests - attend both!

* 4 PM, Tuesday, Dearborn
* 4 PM, Wednesday, Detroit

Please post to your social networks, listservs, etc.


Protest & Rally against Israeli Murders of Peace Activists on Freedom Flotilla
4:00 PM, Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Dearborn City Hall
Michigan Ave & Schaefer, Dearborn

for more info: 313-945-9660

The Free Gaza Flotilla, comprised of 6 ships bringing emergency supplies to the Palestinians held under Israeli siege in Gaza , was attacked in international waters by 14 Israeli ships, helicopters and masked Israeli commandos.

Congress of Arab American Organizations and Palestine Cultural Office in cooperation with area peace groups urge you to participate in a emergency response. Please join the rally against the Israeli murderous assault on the Freedom Flotilla carrying 600 unarmed civilians from 40 nations, in the high seas and in international waters. Reports indicate at least 10 peace activists killed, 50 inured. All boats and peace activists have been attacked then kidnapped by Israeli Navy boats and led to the Israeli port of Esdoud on the Mediterranean. Among those attacked are US peace activists including former Ambassador Edward L. Peck and Irish Nobel Laureate Maireed McGuire.
On Wednesday, join the Congress of Arab American Organizations, the Palestine Cultural Office, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI), F.I.S.T.-Detroit, and other groups in a protest of the brutal Israeli attack on 600 unarmed Palestine Solidarity activists participating in the Free Gaza Flotilla.

Protest and Rally against Israeli Murders and Piracy
4 PM, Wednesday, June 2, 2010
McNamara Federal Building
477 Michigan Ave., Detroit

for info: 313-671-3715

Sara Flounders, Co-Director of International Action Center, said "This attack and the brutal starvation siege of Gaza would not have been possible without the billions of dollars in international aid that Washington gives to Israel every year for more than 60 years. This latest massacre is an act of international piracy. We must reinforce the efforts to Boycott, Divest and Sanction this racist regime and demand an end to all U.S. aid to Israel .

AlAwda NYC points out that live footage from one of the boats reveals the Israeli soldiers were heavily masked and carrying live ammunition which they used on the unarmed passengers. None of the passengers or activists were armed. Israel has continuously seized and refused to release emergency aid supplies to the besieged people of Gaza.

Long Live Palestine!

Israel Defending the Indefensible

Israel defending the indefensible

By Marwan Bishara in Imperium on May 31st, 2010

Israel's use of force against the Gaza aid flotilla will prove self-defeating, says Marwan Bishara

The Israeli military attack on the 'break the siege of Gaza' flotilla in international waters, 65km off the shores of Gaza, has broken the barrier of silence over the Gaza siege.

The Israeli military's justification that its soldiers were lynched and hence were defending themselves adds insult to death.

Israeli spokespeople and officials have used the same military strategy in the battle for public opinion: offence is the best defence. Israel had no other option, say the Israeli officials, but to attack!

However, regardless of exactly what happened on those solidarity ships, Israeli use of force will prove self-defeating. Attacking other nations' citizens in international waters because they resisted arrest is not only illegal, but serves to demean international legal norms.

The UN Goldstone Commission report considered the siege of Gaza to be a possible "war crime". Defending such an illegal and inhumane siege through an attack on a civilian international solidarity group, will make defending Israel's actions ever more challenging for its allies.

Meanwhile, Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, may cut his overseas trip short. And you can be sure that Barack Obama, the US president, would be relieved not to have to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Israeli premier at this time.

Europeans are no less embarrassed. Only a few days ago, they rooted for Israel's membership of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

But will that lead to the lifting of the siege of Gaza or will it be more of the same empty indignation and paralysed condemnations?

What 'international community'? Where are the Arabs?

'International community' is a loaded term. And when it comes to Israel and Palestine it means a lot of talk and little or no action - hence 43 years of occupation.

The so-called 'international community' acts when Israel's allies - the US and its Western allies - agree. So resolutions concerning Iraq or Iran, for example, are passed while those regarding Israel are blocked.

The emergence of a civic 'international community' committed to taking action to break the siege of Gaza comes as a result of the incapacity of the official 'international community' to do more than issue UN resolutions and condemnations.

Israel's worst nightmare is becoming a reality. The civic 'international community' is organising much as it did against Apartheid South Africa.

Israel has referred to the international solidarity movement as Hamas' "Jihadi friends". But the diversity and plurality of the movement and the identity of the passengers on the attacked flotilla render any such claim transparently ridiculous.

Meanwhile, the weakest link in the 'international community' seems to be the official members of the Arab League who have reduced their role to that of mere spectators.

Security or arrogance?

The Israeli attack on and takeover of the solidarity flotilla - when Israel had been informed that the Turkish authorities had checked the ships in their ports - appears to be based less on security concerns than on a calculated effort to deter others from attempting more of the same.

A cold cost and benefit analysis of the Israeli operation shows no particular benefit - security or otherwise - but potential major losses.

Among other possible diplomatic fallouts, Turkish-Israeli relations - which have been deteriorating over the past couple of years - have been severely damaged by this attack and it is unclear now how Israel will be able to regain its strategic relationship with Turkey after killing Turkish civilians.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, has already accused Israel of "knowing how to kill". Turkey will now also be aware that Israel is capable of taking matters into its own hands, regardless of what anybody says.

Unlike most of the Arab states, Turkey is not under one man rule. Rather, Erdogan answers to a party and to vibrant public opinion that seems ever more irritated by Turkish-Israeli relations.

Israel's motto has long been: 'Israel does whatever it must, and the world (Goyim) can say all they want.'

Israeli Commandos Attack Gaza Aid Convoy in International Waters; At Least 19 Reported Killed

Monday, May 31, 2010
15:00 Mecca time, 12:00 GMT

Israel attacks Gaza aid fleet

Al Jazeera's report on board the Mavi Marmara before communications were cut

Israeli forces have attacked a flotilla of aid-carrying ships aiming to break the country's siege on Gaza.

At least 19 people were killed and dozens injured when troops intercepted the convoy of ships dubbed the Freedom Flotilla early on Monday, Israeli radio reported.

The flotilla was attacked in international waters, 65km off the Gaza coast.

Avital Leibovich, an Israeli military spokeswoman, confirmed that the attack took place in international waters, saying: "This happened in waters outside of Israeli territory, but we have the right to defend ourselves."

Footage from the flotilla's lead vessel, the Mavi Marmara, showed armed Israeli soldiers boarding the ship and helicopters flying overhead.

Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal, on board the Mavi Marmara, said Israeli troops had used live ammunition during the operation.

The Israeli military said four soldiers had been wounded and claimed troops opened fire after "demonstrators onboard attacked the IDF Naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs".

Free Gaza Movement, the organisers of the flotilla, however, said the troops opened fire as soon as they stormed the convoy.

Our correspondent said that a white surrender flag was raised from the ship and there was no live fire coming from the passengers.

Before losing communication with our correspondent, a voice in Hebrew was clearly heard saying: "Everyone shut up".

Israeli intervention

Earlier, the Israeli navy had contacted the captain of the Mavi Marmara, asking him to identify himself and say where the ship was headed.

Shortly after, two Israeli naval vessels had flanked the flotilla on either side, but at a distance.

Organisers of the flotilla carrying 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid then diverted their ships and slowed down to avoid a confrontation during the night.

They also issued all passengers life jackets and asked them to remain below deck.

Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Jerusalem, said the Israeli action was surprising.

"All the images being shown from the activists on board those ships show clearly that they were civilians and peaceful in nature, with medical supplies on board. So it will surprise many in the international community to learn what could have possibly led to this type of confrontation," he said.

Meanwhile, Israeli police have been put on a heightened state of alert across the country to prevent any civil disturbances.

Sheikh Raed Salah,a leading member of the Islamic Movement who was on board the ship, was reported to have been seriously injured. He was being treated in Israel's Tal Hasharon hospital.

In Um Al Faham, the stronghold of the Islamic movement in Israel and the birth place of Salah, preparations for mass demonstrations were under way.


Condemnation has been quick to pour in after the Israeli action.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, officially declared a three-day state of mourning over Monday's deaths.

Turkey, Spain, Greece, Denmark and Sweden have all summoned the Israeli ambassador's in their respective countries to protest against the deadly assault.

Thousands of Turkish protesters tried to storm the Israeli consulate in Istanbul soon after the news of the operation broke. The protesters shouted "Damn Israel" as police blocked them.

"(The interception on the convoy) is unacceptable ... Israel will have to endure the consequences of this behaviour," the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

Ismail Haniya, the Hamas leader in Gaza, has also dubbed the Israeli action as "barbaric".

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists, including a Nobel laureate and several European legislators, were with the flotilla, aiming to reach Gaza in defiance of an Israeli embargo.

The convoy came from the UK, Ireland, Algeria, Kuwait, Greece and Turkey, and was comprised of about 700 people from 50 nationalities.

But Israel had said it would not allow the flotilla to reach the Gaza Strip and vowed to stop the six ships from reaching the coastal Palestinian territory.

The flotilla had set sail from a port in Cyprus on Sunday and aimed to reach Gaza by Monday morning.

Israel said the boats were embarking on "an act of provocation" against the Israeli military, rather than providing aid, and that it had issued warrants to prohibit their entrance to Gaza.

It asserted that the flotilla would be breaking international law by landing in Gaza, a claim the organisers rejected.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Israel boat raid sparks condemnations, protests

AP - Monday, May 31, 2010 4:12:13 AM

Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Israel and called for an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council as criticism and condemnations arose across Europe and the Arab world Monday over Israel's deadly commando raid on ships taking humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The raid, in which at least 10 pro-Palestinian activists were killed, was a new blow to Israel's international standing at a time when the West -- including the United States -- have grown frustrated with its stance in the peace process. The bloodshed particularly hurts its relations with Turkey, which was once a close regional ally of Israel but has become increasingly critical of it.

Around 10,000 Turks marched in protest from the Israeli consulate in Istanbul to a main square, chanting, "Murderous Israel you will drown in the blood you shed!" The protesters earlier tried to storm the Consulate building but were blocked by police. The flotilla of six ships, carrying some 700 activists, was sponsored in part by a Turkish organization.

Around 1,000 protested in Jordan's capital, Amman, calling for their government to cut diplomatic ties with Israel. Smaller protests erupted in capitals across the Middle East as well as in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, the Greek city of Thessaloniki and the Pakistani city of Karachi.

Palestinian youths protesting the raid scuffled with Israeli soldiers, throwing bottles and stones at them, at a checkpoint north of Jerusalem, as senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called the Israeli raid a "war crime."

Israel says the activists attacked its commandos as they boarded the six ships taking tons of supplies to Gaza, while the flotilla's organizers say the Israeli forces opened fire first.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the violence, saying, "I am shocked by reports of killing of people in boats carrying supply to Gaza. I heard the ships were in international water. That is very bad." He called for a "thorough investigation."

The White House issued a cautious reaction, saying "The United States deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained, and is currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy."

The European Union's foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, said the bloc was deeply concerned and she called on Israel to carry out an inquiry.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned "the disproportionate use of force" against the flotilla.

"All light must be shed on the circumstances of this tragedy, which underlines the urgency of resuming peace talks," he said in a statement.

Greece suspended a military exercise with Israel and postponed a visit by Israel's air force chief. Greece, Egypt, Sweden, Spain and Denmark summoned Israel's ambassadors demanding explanations for the violence.

But the strongest reaction came from Turkey. Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc called Israel's actions "piracy" and said Turkey is withdrawing its ambassador on Monday as well as canceling three joint military drills and calling on the U.N. Security Council to convene in an emergency session about Israel. Turkey is currently a member of the council.

"I strongly condemn the use of force by Israeli military forces on an aid convoy composed of 32 countries, including Turkey," Arinc said. "This attack must not remain unanswered." He also said a Turkish youth soccer team currently in Israel would be brought home.

The raid also brought heightened attention to Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, imposed after the Palestinian militant group Hamas seized control of the tiny Mediterranean territory in 2007. The blockade -- along with Israel's fierce offensive against Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009 to stop Hamas rocket fire -- has fueled anti-Israeli sentiment around the Arab world.

The president of Iran, a key supporter of Hamas, called the raid "an inhuman act."

"All in all, these (actions) only bring closer the end of the miserable and false regime" in Israel, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, according to state TV.

The Cairo-based Arab League called an emergency session for Tuesday to address the attack, as the two only Arab states with peace deals with Israel -- Jordan and Egypt -- sharply condemned the violence. Jordan's information minister, Nabil al-Sharif, called it a "heinous crime" and called for the lifting of the blockade on Gaza.

The incident also put Egypt in a tight position. The only Arab country bordering the Gaza Strip, it has helped enforce the blockade by cracking down on smuggling tunnels that are a key source of goods to Gaza's 1.5 million people and by rejecting pressure that it open its border crossing. The Egyptian government has said it cannot open the border since there is no agreement on restoring European monitors who left during the Hamas takeover.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry said the violence underlines how Gaza "remains under total Israeli occupation," and it called "for the immediate lifting of the Israeli siege on Gaza."

In Beirut, about 500 Palestinian and Lebanese activists protested in front of the U.N. headquarters, setting Israeli flags on fire. "The only solution with the usurping entity is resistance. This entity only understands the language of force," Hezbollah lawmaker Nawar al-Saheli told the crowd.

In neighboring Syria, more than 200 Syrian and Palestinian protesters staged a sit-in before the offices of the United Nations to denounce the Israeli raid.

Keath reported from Cairo. AP correspondents from around the Mideast and Europe contributed to this report.

Monday, May 31, 2010
14:44 Mecca time, 11:44 GMT

Outrage over Israeli attack

The flotilla comprised six ships carrying about 10,000 tonnes of aid for Gaza

Shock and outrage has swept the globe after Israeli soldiers stormed a flotilla of aid ships bound for Gaza. International powers are closing ranks in condemning the deadly raid.

Reaction from around the world to Israel's attack:

Statement from the Turkish foreign ministry

The interception on the convoy is unacceptable ... Israel will have to bear the consequences of its actions.

We strongly condemn it and await an immediate explanation.

By targeting innocent civilians, Israel has once again clearly displayed that does not value human lives and peaceful initiatives.

We forcefully condemn these inhumane activities by Israel.

The incident that occurred in open sea which is a gross breach of international law, could cause irrevocable consequences for our relations.

We wish to express our condolences to the bereaved families of the deceased, and swift recovery to the wounded.

Ismail Haniya, Hamas leader in Gaza

The government of Hamas call on Palestinians to carry out a total strike in Gaza and West Bank to show solidarity and protest the Israeli crimes.

We request emergency session for the UN Security Council, Arab League and Islamic Conference and we demand the Palestinian Authority to stop all forms of negotiations.

The government decided to grant those on board Freedom ships the medal of honour.

We appeal to the UN to withdraw from the Quartet.

The government has decided to name the May 31 "the freedom day". We demand the Arab League to carry out all decisions to stop the siege of Gaza.

We say to those heroes that the essence of your honourable blood has reached us before the aids you are carrying to us.

We salute everyone on board the Freedom ships.

Salam Fayad, Palestinian prime minister

Israel went beyond all that could be expected.

This [attack] is a transgression against all international covenants and norms and it must be confronted by all international forums.

Statement from the Palestinian presidency

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemns the crime perpetrated by the occupation authorities against international solidarity activists aboard the Freedom Flotilla.

The Palestinian leadership is closely following the developments and the President calls on the United Nations to confront Israel, which is disregarding all international laws and norms.

The attack on the Flotilla is an attack against humanity.

This incident will have grave consequences in the region and the world.

Statement from the Arab League

Secretary General Amr Moussa has called for an emergency meeting at the League's headquarters in Cairo on June 1.

The attack clearly shows Israel's aggressive nature and its disrespect to international and humanitarian rules and laws.

We call on the international community to take immediate steps against Israel, a rogue state that practices all forms of terrorism and piracy, and instigates tension and instability in the region and in the middle of the Mediterranean sea.

Saad Hariri, Lebanese prime minister

The Israeli attack on the aid convoy is a dangerous and crazy step that will exacerbate tensions in the region.

Lebanon firmly denounces this attack and calls on the international community, notably major powers ... to take action in order to end this continued violation of human rights and threat to international peace.

Spokesperson for EU's foreign policy chief

High Representative Catherine Ashton expresses her deep regret at the news of loss of life and violence and extends her sympathies to families of the dead and wounded.

On behalf of the European Union she demands a full enquiry about the circumstances in which this happened.

The continued policy of closure is unacceptable and politically counter-productive. She calls for an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of the crossing for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza.

Guido Westerwelle, German foreign minister

I am deeply concerned about the events last night in the waters off Gaza ... These are disconcerting initial reports.

The foreign ministry is now working to establish the full facts of what happened.

Diego Lopez Garrido, Spain's secretary of state for EU affairs

The Israeli storming of a flotilla of activist ships heading for Gaza is unacceptable and very serious event.

We have have summoned the Israeli ambassador [to Spain] to give us explanations and, of course, we will investigate and will start handling this matter immediately.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranian president

[The attack was an] inhuman Zionist regime action against Gazans.

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Emir of Qatar

The Israeli act of piracy against Arab and foreign activists who tried to break an non humanitarian unjust siege imposed on our fellow citizens in Gaza Strip, for no reason but they exercised their democratic right of choice.

The crimes purportrated this morning against the civilians supporting the Palestinians remind us of the unjust siege the open bleeding wound in the Strip; and all those who preach freedom, justice and democracy are required now to move and act to break this siege so the bloods of those free men do not go down the drains.

This is also message addressed to the Arab states who were brought to the moment of justice by those free men on board.

Micheal Martin, Irish foreign affairs minister

I am gravely concerned at the reports emerging of the storming of a Turkish ship this morning by Israeli commandos.

My department is seeking to establish the full facts of what has occurred and confirm the safety of the eight Irish nationals who sailed with theTurkish-led flotilla.

The reports of up to 15 people killed and 50 injured, if confirmed, would constitute a totally unacceptable response by the Israeli military to what was a humanitarian mission attempting to deliver much needed supplies to the people of Gaza.

Statement from Britain's Stop The War Coalition

The action should see Israel condemned under international law.

Israel has repeatedly flouted law and public opinion worldwide in its treatment of the Palestinians.

The decision by Israel to attack the flotilla with such loss of human life shows it is arrogant and deadly intent in opposing any aid to the Palestinians.

Navi Pillay, UN high commissioner for human rights

I am shocked by reports that humanitarian aid was met with violence early this morning reportedly causing death and injury as the boat convoy approached the Gaza coast.

The blockade keeps undermining human rights on a daily basis.

The current situation falls far short of what is necessary for the population to lead normal and dignified lives.

I condemn once again the indiscriminate firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel.

Franco Frattini, Italian foreign minister

Italy deplores the loss of civilian life in Israel's raid on a flotilla of aid ships bound for Gaza.

Statement from the UN Relief and Works Agency

We are shocked by reports of killings and injuries of people on board boats carrying supplies for Gaza, apparently in international waters.

Such tragedies are entirely avoidable if Israel heeds the repeated calls of the international community to end its counterproductive and unacceptable blockade of Gaza.

William Hague, British foreign secretary

I deplore the loss of life during the interception of the Gaza Flotilla. Our embassy is in urgent contact with the Israeli government. We are asking for more information and urgent access to any UK nationals involved.

We have consistently advised against attempting to access Gaza in this way, because of the risks involved. But at the same time, there is a clear need for Israel to act with restraint and in line with international obligations. It will be important to establish the facts about this incident, and especially whether enough was done to prevent deaths and injuries.

This news underlines the need to lift the restrictions on access to Gaza, in line with UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1860. The closure is unacceptable and counter-productive.

There can be no better response from the international community to this tragedy than to achieve urgently a durable resolution to the Gaza crisis.

I call on the government of Israel to open the crossings to allow unfettered access for aid to Gaza, and address the serious concerns about the deterioration in the humanitarian and economic situation and about the effect on a generation of young Palestinians.

We'll be live-blogging the aftermath of this incident throughout the day; keep checking back for international reaction.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

United States Imperialists Seek to Dictate Electoral Rules in Nigeria

US warns against delay in release of timetable, voter register

By Agency reporter
Monday, 31 May 2010

The United States on Sunday expressed concern over delay by the Independent National Electoral Commission in releasing the timetable and an updated voter register for the 2011 poll.

It said that this situation would pose a major challenge to the smooth conduct of the elections.

Answering questions at the News Agency of Nigeria Forum in Abuja on Sunday, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms. Robin Sanders, said, “The big challenge is that you do not know when the elections are going to be held yet, though the decision is in the hands of the National Assembly.”

INEC had on March 16, 2010 issued a two-option timetable for the elections. It said the final decision would be taken after the conclusion of the review of the 1999 constitution.

Sanders said Washington’s observation followed concerns expressed by Civil Society Organisations at the maiden meeting of the US—Nigeria Bi-National Commission, which ended on Thursday in Abuja.

She said, “Those are the things that we were briefed on your side and I hope resolutions will be made very quickly. Election date is one of the things to figure out first before everything else.

“I will tell you quite honestly that, the focus of the BNC’s first working group was on elections’ credibility. Transparent elections are kind of the order of the day now and the theme of the day.

“You certainly need an election date, a sooner rather than later kind of determination; you need a clear and transparent voter register.’’

Sanders added that for INEC to conduct a credible election, it must ensure a transparent voter registration.

The Ambassador said, “Certainly, internal political democracy is a big challenge and I think that really is not something that any outsider friend can do for Nigeria.

“That is going to come from political will; only Nigerian elements have the role there.”

On strategies to ensure the implementation of the outcomes of the BNC, Sanders said both sides had engaged senior officials to outline challenges and commitments.

“I think to have a senior member of the US government lead a delegation shows our seriousness and commitment, and I think Nigeria had an array of ministers during the BNC telling us some of the challenges, where the challenges are; telling us what their commitments are,” she said.

“I think that is one of the positive signals,‘‘ she added.

Sanders urged the Federal Government and Nigerians to challenge any act that would prevent the attainment of free and fair elections in 2011.

She said that Nigeria had “all it takes” to achieve free and fair elections.

According to her, there is the need for strong political will by the government, to ensure that the elections were conducted in the right way.

“The free, fair and transparent elections are going to be driven by political will and we need to make that happen at every level; whether it’s at your executive level, whether it’s at your political party level, whether it’s at your grass roots level,’’ Sanders said.

The envoy pledged that the US would offer Nigeria technical assistance so that it could have credible, transparent and fair elections.

She said, “We see election technical assistance as the support of what we hope the overall atmosphere of ensuring that there is a fair and transparent election.

“We alone can’t do that, but that has to be something that Nigerians want and we can’t want it more than Nigerians.

“No matter how much technical assistance is poured into it, if there is no political will in every stage of the election process chain, then you are going to have a challenge about the outcome.’’

She urged the electorate to partner the government to guarantee credible elections, noting that, “credible and transparent election is the order of the day now.’’

The ambassador said that Nigeria’s democracy was facing challenges, like any other growing democracy, adding that Nigerians had to work hard to overcome them.

The ambassador said she was happy that Nigeria had survived the “very fragile environment of insecurity,” which stretched from November 2009 until recently.

“It’s been a very fragile environment; there has been a lot of insecurity. I think since you found a way out of this tragic period, I think you can accommodate and talk about elections,” she said.

She noted that Nigeria had the resources, talent, creativity, innovativeness, intelligence, commitment and dedication to have free and fair elections.

The ambassador stressed that the US government was willing to work with Nigeria on the BNC’s strategic action deliverable.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Brain Gain: African Migrants Returning Home

Brain gain: African migrants returning home

Saturday, 29 May 2010 11:53 UK

Africa may still be suffering from a chronic brain drain but some of the continent's elite are turning their backs on the West and taking their talents back home according to film-maker Andy Jones.

Ghana's fashion industry has lured some African professionals home The story is as old as the hills. Man leaves village to seek riches in the big city.

In recent years, the village has been the continent of Africa, the city represented by the bright lights of Europe and America.

Any number of Africans seek to cross the ocean and make their fortunes, never to be seen again.

But when our team travelled around Africa recently to film a new TV documentary series, we found a different story. Many of the Africans I met had worked or been educated in the West and come back.

Across nine African countries and a journey of 7,000 miles from Mali to South Africa, from Ghana to Ethiopia, the story was often the same. Africans were returning from working or studying abroad either for patriotic reasons or because of the growing opportunities back home.

Fashion industry

These were educated Africans like Kofi Ansah, a Ghanaian fashion designer. Born into an artistic family, he studied fashion at Chelsea School of Art before graduating with first class honours in 1977. He spent 20 years living and working in Europe before returning to Ghana in 1992.

Mr Ansah still travels the world, and could live anywhere, but his business is growing, his family are settled and he feels like he's making a difference in Accra. "I came to help try to develop the clothing textile industry. And I thought, if we could do it right, it could help our employment situation."

At one of his fashion shows, we met make-up artist Nana Amu Fleisher-Djoleto who grew up in London. Her view is that not only are more people returning, but they are coming home sooner.

"I'm finding now that younger people want to go away maybe to university, but then come back after gaining some experience. They're not working for years and coming back when they're decrepit."

Global mobility

For decades, African leaders have complained of a brain drain, losing many of their brightest and best to Western countries keen to attract highly skilled migrants.

This brain drain cannot be stopped or reversed according to Jean Phillipe Chauzy at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). But he sees other factors at play in Africa's favour.

"The fundamental difference is new technology allowing African professionals in the West to transfer their skills and do some teaching," says Mr Chauzy.

It is a relatively new trend with digital technology allowing African academics and other professionals abroad to support African universities, schools or individuals back home to bridge the skills gap with the West.

He also sees "a pattern of mobility for people with skills" with greater global mobility allowing "countries which have the right conditions" to attract skilled professionals home either temporarily or permanently.

A recent IOM report on Ghana highlighted its "relative peace, security and political stability" and found "growing incidence of return or circular migration".

"Of the more than 1.1 million Ghanaians who left the country between 2000-2007, only 153,000 did not return either temporarily or permanently."

Commodity Exchange

For many returnees including former World Bank senior economist Eleni Gabre-Madhin, loyalty and the desire to give something back is an important motivation for returning.

Inside Ethiopia's commodities exchange

Her brainchild is the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange, which began trading in 2008 and which she hopes will make a difference to the lives of millions of farmers.

"I'd spent years doing analysis and writing, but then the food crisis hit in 2003, and it made me think, OK we're talking about things, but we're not doing anything."

The new exchange, owned by the Ethiopian government and supported by the World Bank, trades in six commodities including coffee, produced by around 12 million small-scale farmers in Ethiopia.

While deals are still sealed with a traditional slap of hands, cutting edge technology ensures that all transactions are logged on computers within four seconds, with prices transmitted across the country by radio and around the world via the internet.

The farmers benefit by being guaranteed a good international market price, preventing exploitation by middlemen and they get paid within 24 hours.

The first two years have seen over $400m (£274m) worth of produce traded and despite a number of teething problems, the exchange looks set to prosper, with nearby countries such as Tanzania and Uganda now considering similar schemes.

Ms Gabre-Madhin acknowledges there have been problems but she would like to see more people joining her in making solutions work, rather than sniping from overseas.

The African brain drain with emigration outstripping immigration may be destined to continue but for those countries which can offer the security and political stability, there is a growing dividend from those who feel they owe something to their former home.

An African Journey with Jonathan Dimbleby can be seen on BBC Two on Sundays at 2100 BST from 30 May and also via iPlayer (UK only).

Zimbabwe Vice-President Joice Mujuru Warns NGOs

VP Mujuru warns NGOs

Herald Reporter

VICE President Joice Mujuru has warned some non-governmental organisations diverting from their co-business of humanitarian assistance to meddle in Zimbabwean politics that they risk having their licences withdrawn.

Speaking during victory celebrations for Rushinga legislator and Politburo member Cde Lazarus Dokora, VP Mujuru said Government was aware that the NGOs were targeting under-developed areas for their underhand activities.

Cde Dokora was appointed Zanu-PF’s deputy secretary for education in the party’s supreme decision making body outside congress.

"As Government, we are aware there are some NGOs who are targeting such underdeveloped areas like Rushinga.

"They come to you on the pretext that they want to perform humanitarian duties yet they end up meddling in national politics.

"We do not like that. When they come to our MPs, our Chiefs, headmasters you should ask them what areas they need assistance and boundaries would be demarcated for you," she said.

She said as soon as the NGOs start meddling in politics, Government would immediately end its marriage with them.

"When you start engaging in political activities, I believe we should immediately stop our relationship with you because it is not your primary objective," she said.

VP Mujuru applauded people in Rushinga for remaining resolute in their support for Zanu-PF and said they should have their concerns addressed as pay back for their loyalty.

"You are the third best district nationally in terms of allegiance. Whenever there are elections Zanu-PF will not lead until we receive statistics from this district. You make us proud."

She said people in the constituency needed Government to look at issues like transport, electricity, roads and food shortages.

"I will take your concerns to President Mugabe. I will tell Cde Mugabe the people that make us proud need our assistance as a way of appreciating your support," she said.

VP Mujuru said Cde Dokora’s elevation to the Politburo and Central Committee was in appreciation of the support Zanu-PF received from the constituency.

She said Government would step up construction of the Semwa Dam, a national project, for the benefit and economic development of Rushinga.

"We expect construction of the dam would ensure Rushinga positively contributes towards the country’s economic development. We shall get water for all purposes. We shall generate power, start irrigation as soon as the dam is completed.

"That shows you are important people. You make Zimbabwe a real country because of the support you give us," she said.

She however, warned farmers against squandering proceeds from their agricultural activities, urging them to plan for their future.