Saturday, June 30, 2018

Immigration Protest Signs Reveal a Kaleidoscope of Outrage
Thousands protest zero tolerance policy

2:14 PM, June 30, 2018

(CNN) - The hand-scrawled signs in all colors and sizes reflect the thousands of Americans participating in rallies Saturday against the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy toward undocumented immigrants.

From New York to Atlanta, signs carried by marchers painted a kaleidoscope of outrage over the more than 2,500 undocumented children who were separated from their parents in the weeks since the controversial policy took effect.

In New York, a little girl with dark hair held a bright yellow sign that read, "Mr. President Why do you like Mexican food but not the Mexican people? Families belong together."

The caption on an Instagram photo of the girl reads: "The radicalization of Willa Gray."

Another girl named Andromeda, who will turn 2 in August, marched with her father in New York with a sign that demanded, "Release my friends."

Also in New York, Alex Ogel and Megan Harrison protested the actions of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"I prefer crushed ICE," one of the signs read.

In Washington, Margaret Stokes, a teacher from Leesburg, Virginia, marched with a sign that read, "Where are the children?"

Another one had a sketch of a baby onesie with the words, "Where is my mother?" and the question: "Do you care?"

"CLOSE the DETENTION CENTERS," read a black, red and white sign carried by Sara Tharakan and cousin Sarah Mathews, both 27, in Washington.

MacKenzie Banks, 19, of Lubbock, Texas, marched in Washington with a question for the Trump administration: "If these children lived in my uterus, would y'all start caring."

Another sign in Washington said simply: "I know why the caged kid screams."

Marching in McAllen, Texas, Dianne Norris tweeted a photo of herself holding a sign that read, "Now you've pissed off grandma."

Outside the US Justice Department Saturday in Washington, a lone sign was left near a guarded entrance.

"Shame on you! Deplorable," it said.

The main march was in Lafayette Square in the nation's capital, but hundreds of rallies took place across the country.
Metro Detroiters Protest Migrant Separations, Travel Ban
Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
3:38 p.m. ET June 30, 2018

Detroit — Cindy Garcia, whose husband Jorge was deported on Jan. 15, said instead of crying in her bed she wanted to share her pain with hundreds protesting the separation of families in Metro Detroit.

Jorge Garcia, 49, was deported to Mexico because he entered the country illegally when he was 10 years old, his wife said. Cindy Garcia, of Lincoln Park, said the separation has been traumatizing on her two children.

"I've been directly affected by this administration. I had to let my husband go and have to take my two children (ages 13 and 15) to see a psychiatrist," said Garcia, 46, told a crowd of protesters on Saturday. "I can't even imagine if they were locked up in cages, away from me thinking I abandoned them."

Garcia was among the protesters who hit the streets in Metro Detroit and Michigan and across the U.S. for the #FamiliesBelongTogetherMarch Saturday to press President Donald Trump's administration to reunite families quickly.

More than 700 planned marches drew hundreds of thousands of people across the country, from immigrant-friendly cities like New York and Los Angeles to conservative Appalachia and Indiana to the front lawn of a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, near a detention center where migrant children were being held in cages.

In Detroit, crowds gathered in sweltering 95-degree heat on Saturday at the Spirit of Detroit and Clark Park before marching.

Detroit police estimated more than 250 people gathered at the Spirit of Detroit and marched through downtown before returning to rally in Hart Plaza. Police said ambulances are on standby for those overcome by the heat at Clark Park, where more than 1,000 are expected.

U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, Fayrouz Saad, a Democrat candidate hoping to  represent Michigan's 11th District; and former state Rep. Ellen Lipton of Huntington Woods who is running for the 9th District  congressional seat  were among the speakers at the Spirit of Detroit rally.

"It's (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and their practices that are a danger to American society," Levin said. "The key message... we need to send a clear message to this administration to stop sending kids away from their parents, they've done nothing wrong. They came here undocumented, but they work and the families work, contribute and do nothing wrong."

Trump took to Twitter on Saturday morning to show his support for Immigration and Customs Enforcement amid calls from some Democrats for major changes to immigration enforcement.

Tweeting from New Jersey, Trump said that Democrats “are making a strong push to abolish ICE, one of the smartest, toughest and most spirited law enforcement groups of men and women that I have ever seen.” He urged ICE agents to “not worry or lose your spirit.”

Detroit and 22 other Michigan cities — Adrian, Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Big Rapids, Flint, Fort Gratiot, Grand Rapids, Hart, Holland, Houghton, Iron Mountain, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Ludington, Manistee, Marquette, Midland, Mt Pleasant, Muskegon, Petoskey, Pontiac, Saint Helen, Saint Joseph, Sault Ste Marie, Traverse City and Troy — were the site of rallies.

The rallies not only focused on the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border, but protested against the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling uphoiding Trump's travel ban from mostly Muslim countries.

"I'm the daughter of immigrants and my parents came 40 years ago for the American dream, the one that Trump is destroying," said Saad, who called for impeachment of Trump. "This Supreme Court ruling is outrageous and we know now the courts are not going to save us any more. It's who we vote in that will make the difference."

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, started at an Ann Arbor rally before heading to Clark Park to fight for the "fundamental pillars and the heart and soul of America," she said.

Many yelled to Dingell asking if she would stand by their mission to shutdown ICE. She replied, "We got to be careful, ICE isn't keeping us safe because people see ICE and run the other way, but we can not let Donald Trump define our message."

Imam Mika'il Stewart Saadiq lead chants with the crowd at Clark Park saying "Fight people fight, faith is on our side" and "Just because it's legal doesn't mean it's right."

"All of our children will be the next legislators, educators and it's very important that we are here and our children will remember that we we are a part of a righteous legacy fighting for equality for all," said Saadiq. "You come for one of us and you come for all of us. U.S. immigration policy has become ethnic cleansing from detention centers to terrorizing those who seek asylum, to the travel ban... we won't have it."

Associated Press contributed to this report.
Twitter: @SarahRahal_
‘Families Belong Together’ Rallies Protest Trump Immigration Policies Nationwide
By Sara Boboltz

Demonstrators gather outside the White House in Washington, D.C., during a protest against the Trump administration's policy (BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES)

Families Belong Together rallies drew crowds dressed in white to cities big and small across the United States on Saturday to protest the Trump administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy.

The policy has led to thousands of children being separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border and inspired bipartisan criticism. President Donald Trump partially addressed the issue of family separation in an executive order signed June 20, but the problem is far from solved.

Dozens of activist organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, MoveOn and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, came together to organize the protests, which included more than 600 events on what was a sweltering hot Saturday in much of the country.

At the main event in Washington, D.C., organizers said around 30,000 showed up to hear celebrity and activist speakers including Lin-Manuel Miranda before marching to the White House. (The president was away at his golf resort in New Jersey.)

In Boston, thousands of demonstrators heard from Massachusetts Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D) and Ed Markey (D), while, on the opposite coast, Chrissy Teigen introduced husband John Legend while holding her infant son before a crowd in downtown Los Angeles.

Protesters showed up in places ranging from Farmington, Maine, to Lansing, Michigan, to Eugene, Oregon, where they chanted things like, “No hate! No fear! Immigrants are welcome here!”

They brought signs aplenty, too.
Thousands Stage Immigration Protests, Marches Across South Florida
Sun Sentinel

Several hundred people marched outside the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Saturday , waving signs and shouting slogans protesting the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

It was just one of several protests across South Florida and part of some 700 nationwide demonstrations by groups including the Move On and Families Belong Together organizations to bring about change in immigration policy.

“Our country was founded out of a concern for decency,” said Laura Samuels, who drove from Delray Beach to attend the protest in Hollywood. “There is no basic, fundamental decency to separating families of immigrants.”

Hollywood Police had to hold back the growing crowd that spilled off the sidewalk onto South Ocean Drive across from the Diplomat. Sporadic rain did not dampen the demonstrators’ resolve.

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Protestors held signs that read, “Abolish ICE, Deport Racists,” and “I Care,” as passing motorists honked their horns in support.

Plantation resident Debbie Greenspan said this was the first demonstration she ever attended because she was passionate about the issue.

“I just can’t bear babies being taken from their parents or even putting the whole family in jail,” she said. “I mean, what is wrong with these people? It’s beyond comprehension.”

Some who showed up to the rally were seasoned anti-Trump demonstrators, others -- like Greenspan -- were new to immigration activism. Some parents said they feel compelled to show up after gut-wrenching accounts of children forcibly taken from their families as they crossed the border illegally.

Rucsandra Vitere, 23, is an Orlando area school teacher who joined the Hollywood demonstrators in support of some of her students who came from trouble-spots in Venezuela, Guatemala, and especially Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, she said.

“I came out here because I teach a lot of immigrant children,” she said. “I’m the daughter of a refugee, my mom, who came here in the early 90s seeking asylum from Romania.”

Noemi Gonzalez was born in Argentina, became an American while living in Texas, and has three American-born children with her in Pembroke Pines.

“I am here because I know the pain you have when you have kids and you don’t know if you can stay here,” she said. “With a president like this, I don’t even know if he can touch my kids.”

Twylia Fannin is a self-described feminist, activist and mother from Miami who is a regular participant for causes like keeping families together.

“It’s not just Trump, it’s the Republican leadership,” she said. “[They] could do something about this… but they just keep their mouths closed while we lose our democracy.”

The demonstration in Hollywood began at 10 a.m. and lasted past noon until the protesters were satisfied their message was heard.
Protesters Hit Streets in Cities Across U.S. Over Trump Immigration Policy
Jun 30, 2018 1:28 PM EDT
CBS News

Thousands of protesters gathered across America to demand President Donald Trump's
administration reunite the divided families. Protestors moved by accounts of children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, marched Saturday in major cities and tiny towns across the U.S. to demand President Donald Trump's administration reunite the divided families.

More than 700 planned marches are expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people across the country, from immigrant-friendly cities like Los Angeles and New York to conservative Appalachia and Wyoming under the banner Families Belong Together. Thousands dressed in white and gathered early Saturday morning in sweltering 90-degree heat in Lafayette Park across from the White House in what was expected to be the largest of the day's protests.

"What's next? Concentration Camps?" one marcher's sign read. "I care, do you?" read another, referencing a jacket the first lady wore when visiting child migrants amid the global furor over the administration's zero-tolerance policy that forced the separation of more than 2,000 children from their parents. Her jacket had "I really don't care. Do you?" scrawled across the back, and that message has become a rallying cry for Saturday's protesters.

"We care!" marchers shouted outside city hall in Dallas. Organizer Michelle Wentz says opposition to the administration's "barbaric and inhumane" policy has seemed to cross political party lines. Marchers carried signs that read "Compassion not cruelty" and "November is coming."

In New York City, thousands began chanting "shame!" and singing "shut detention down!" before their planned march across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Smaller groups came together in city parks and downtown squares in every state, a total of 703 places across the country, and photos quickly started ricocheting around social media.

Some carried tiny white onesies. "What if it was your child?" was written on one. "No family jails," said another.

Children joined in. A little girl in Washington, D.C., carried a handwritten sign: "Honestly, I am blown away. I have literally never seen Americans show up for immigrants like this," said Jess Morales Rocketto, political director at the National Domestic Workers Alliance, which represents nannies, housekeepers and caregivers, many of whom are immigrants. "We just kept hearing over and over again, if it was my child, I would want someone to do something." 

Saturday's rallies are getting funding and support from the American Civil Liberties Union,, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and The Leadership Conference. But local organizers are shouldering on-the-ground planning, many of them women relying on informal networks established during worldwide women's marches on Trump's inauguration and its anniversary.

Tyler Houlton, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, welcomed interest in the immigration system and said only Congress has the power to change the law.

"We appreciate that these individuals have expressed an interest in and concern with the critical issue of securing our nation's borders and enforcing our immigration laws," Houlton said. "As we have indicated before, the department is disappointed and frustrated by our nation's disastrous immigration laws and supports action."

Trump took to Twitter on Saturday morning to show his support for Immigration and Customs Enforcement amid calls from some Democrats for major changes to immigration enforcement. Tweeting from New Jersey, Mr. Trump said that Democrats "are making a strong push to abolish ICE, one of the smartest, toughest and most spirited law enforcement groups of men and women that I have ever seen." He urged ICE agents to "not worry or lose your spirit."

In Portland, Sharaf and other mothers who organized the rally hope to attract 5,000 people.

Right-wing activists with the group Patriot Prayer also have a permit to march later in the day Saturday and the Portland Police Bureau said Friday they planned to have a heavy police presence.

Sharaf and co-organizer Erin Conroy have coordinated with immigrant advocacy groups.

"This is not my wheelhouse," Conroy said. "As far as I'm concerned, this is a national emergency that we all need to be focused on right now."

Immigration attorney Linda Rivas said groups have met with U.S. authorities, congressional representatives and other leaders to discuss an escalating immigration crackdown that they say began decades ago. But the family separation policy has been a watershed for attracting a broader spectrum of demonstrators, she said.

"To finally have people on board wanting to take action, marching, taking to the streets," Rivas said. "It's been motivating for us as advocates because we have to keep going."

On Thursday, more than a thousand people and organizations including the ACLU, the ACLU of Texas and United We Dream gathered in Texas to demand that separated families be immediately reunited, the ACLU said in a news release. They gathered in Brownsville, which according to the ACLU is one of the "hardest hit" areas under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy.

"The administration doesn't have a plan to reunite families. But we have a plan," said Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas. "We are going to keep fighting. Refugees are welcome here, immigrants are welcome here. We won't stop until every single child is reunited."

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Africa's Disastrous Performance at the World Cup in Russia
Daniel Mumbere with REUTERS

As dreaded, Senegal failed to hold off Colombia in their last group game on Thursday and were consequently knocked out of the World Cup in Russia, confirming the elimination of all five African representatives.

This turn of events ranks as the worst performance for the continent since the 1982 finals in Spain.

Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia were already eliminated, and Senegal joined them after it became the first team in football history to eliminated by fair play points. Senegal which was tied with Japan on four points, had the same goal difference and were edged out by the Asians because they had two more yellow cards.

In every tournament since the 1986 finals in Mexico, at least one African country has made it through to the knockout stages, even when there were only three African teams in the field.

Africa’s allocation was increased to five places when the World Cup was expanded to 32 teams in France in 1998, and when South Africa hosted the 2010 finals there were six African sides.

Ghana, riding a wave of popular support, got within a whisker of a semi-final place at that tournament, but the others all bombed out early.

The quarter finals which is the furthest an African side has reached, was also achived by Senegal in 2002 and Cameroon in 1990.

Despite the fact that Africa has produced some of the best talent to play in European leagues, and a standing prediction by Brazil football legend Pele that an African team would win the World Cup by 2000, the wait is still on.

Algeria and Nigeria advanced in Brazil four years ago, but the latest batch of African sides have produced a poorer return.

Africa’s results in Russia

Egypt lost all their three games in Russia, affected by the partial absence of their talisman, Liverpool star Mohamed Salah. The Pharaohs succumbed to Uruguay 0-1 in the opening game, before losing to hosts Russia 1-3 in the second game that effectively eliminated them from the tournament. In the final game, Asian side Saudi Arabia beat them 2-1.

Morocco drew some positive reviews but picked up only one point, holding the 2010 world champions Spain to a 2-2 draw in their final group game. Before that, the North African side had been undone by two heartbreaking 0-1 losses against Iran and Egypt.

Nigeria were eliminated after losing out late in a drama-filled match against Argentina on Tuesday (1-2). The Super Eagles had lost their opening game 0-2 to Croatia before reviving their fortunes with a 2-0 win against Iceland.

Tunisia were eliminated after losing their first two games, 1-2 against England and 2-5 against Belgium. The North African side bowed out with a 2-1 win over World Cup debutants Panama, finishing with three points behind England and Belgium.

Senegal, obtained four points from their first two games, beating Poland 2-0, and drawing 2-2 against Japan before their eventual elimination.

Numbers game

With 54 member countries, Africa has only one less nation than UEFA, European football’s governing body, but Europe has the lion’s share of teams at the World Cup, 14 including host Russia.

The expanded 48-team World Cup set to be held in north America in eight years’ time will see Africa getting nine places, still far fewer than Europe’s 16 slots.

African countries used to point to the imbalance as unfair.

But this argument has been quietly abandoned as results have failed to back calls for increased representation. The continent’s performance in Russia so far looks unlikely to change that situation.
Black Saturday’s Unsung Hero
 29 JUN, 2018 - 00:06 
Philemon Mutedzi
Special  Correspondent
Zimbabwe Herald

Saturday, June 23 2018, was a Black Saturday for Zimbabwe. It was the day that an attempt was made on President Mnangagwa’s life. A bomb was thrown at the President’s entourage as he left the VIP podium after a well-attended campaign rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo.

The atmosphere was electric, while the hit song by Jah Prayzah, “Kutonga Kwaro”, was being belted out. The bomb turned that ecstatic moment into a frightening sombre spectacle. Cde Nelson Dube, who was providing VVIP protection for the President, was among those injured in the bomb attack.

He was taken to Mpilo Hospital, where he later succumbed to injuries sustained during the bomb attack on June 25 2018. Due to the nature of his job as an intelligence officer charged with protecting the President, he was an unsung hero. Many a people from all walks of life have been mourning this unknown hero, but keen to know who Cde Nelson Dube, nom de guerre, Cde Shingirai Tichazvipedza, was.

Cde Dube was a veteran of the liberation struggle, a distinguished patriot, a family man and a farmer. He was born on January 1 1961 in Mwenezi District, Masvingo Province. He attended Zvirikure Primary School from 1968 to 1972 (Grade 1 to 5) and Rata Primary School in 1973 (Grade 6). He dropped out of school in 1974 due to illness before going back to school to complete his Grade 7 in 1975. He enrolled at Lundi Secondary School in Masvingo in 1976.

Moved by colonial repression, Cde Dube dropped out of school to join the liberation struggle under the Zimbabwe National Liberation Army (ZANLA) in 1976. He was 15-years-old. He left for Mozambique on foot and briefly stayed at Mapai Base in that country. In early 1977, he was transferred to Xaixai Base under Commander Ndoda. After receiving ideological orientation at Xaixai, he later received initial military training at Chimoio in 1978.

Fortunately for him, unlike the Black Saturday bombing, Cde Dube was one of the survivors of the Chimoio attack by Rhodesian Forces in 1978. He was transferred to Doroi Camp following the attack before returning to Chimoio Base 2. In 1979, he went for further military training in Libya, and was subsequently deployed to Samakweza Camp in January 1980. During demobilisation, he was sent to Tongogara Assembly Point in Mutoko. As a result of his sterling liberation war record, Cde Dube was conferred with a bronze medal in post-independence Zimbabwe.

In April 1981, Cde Dube joined the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) as a corporal, a rank he held until his resignation in May 1983. As a young man who dropped out of school to join the liberation struggle, Cde Dube resumed his education in June 1983 before completing his Zimbabwe Junior Certificate (ZJC) in 1984, and later completing his O-Levels through correspondence.

As a cadre and patriot who found joy and pride in serving his country, Cde Dube joined the President’s Department on September 9 1985 as a Security Aide II under the auspices of the Security Branch. Following his attestation and initial training, he was assigned to perform general protection duties. As a result of his diligence, dedication to duty and hard work, Cde Dube was promoted to the rank of Security Aide I on  July 1 1990. He was further promoted to the rank of Senior Security Aide on  July 1 1995.

As a result of his zeal and commitment to duty, Cde Dube was seconded to the VVIP Protection Unit, where he joined the Main Section which is charged with protecting the Head of State. As a trained liberation cadre, Cde Dube excelled in his duties and was promoted to the rank of Principal Chief Security Aide on September 1                                                                                       2002.

In 2007, Cde Dube was deployed as part of a special operation to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In 2008, upon his return from the DRC, he was reassigned to the Main Section. Given that his conduct was beyond reproach, he was promoted to the rank of Chief Security Aide and appointed deputy shift leader responsible for advance survey duties.

Recognising Cde Dube’s craft competence, the organisation promoted him to the rank of Senior Chief Security Aide on January 1 2014 and appointed him Shift Leader responsible for coordinating daily protection duties for the Head of State.

Although Cde Dube dropped out of school to join the liberation struggle, and subsequently completed his ZJC and O-Levels, he did not stop there. He later attained a Certificate in Accounting and Certificate in Business Law in preparation for his retire-                                                          ment.

Recognising that the protracted liberation war was fought and won to reclaim the land that had been expropriated by the white minority regime, Cde Dube applied and was allocated land to farm at Mbizi Farm, Sub-Division A, Featherstone in Chivhu. He was an accomplished farmer, who fully utilised the land he was allocated

Cde Dube was a family man. He is survived by a wife, Emilia Dube, three children – two boys, Simbarashe (28) and Tatenda (25) – and the last born, Tinaye (19) – a girl.

Cde Dube was buried at his farm in Featherstone yesterday.

Cde Dube lived his life to the fullest, from the liberation war to post-independent Zimbabwe. Like his non de guerre Shingirirai, he persevered.

His war surname, Tichazvipedza, predicted that Zimbabwe would end white oppression, and true to his name, Cde Dube finished the job, together with many liberation war heroes and heroines.

He went a step further, and served his country with commendable distinction. It remains a story to be told what would have happened had brave officers such as Cde Dube were not present on Black Saturday.

What we know is that Cde Dube died protecting President Mnangagwa and serving his country.

Go well son of the soil. Go well Qhawe lamaQhawe, Gamba remaGamba.
Let’s Remain Vigilant: Chiwenga
29 JUN, 2018 - 01:06
Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
Zimbabwe Herald

ACTING President Dr Constantino Chiwenga yesterday urged Zimbabweans to remain vigilant in the face of the terror attack at White City Stadium in Bulawayo on Saturday, and reiterated that the country was not going back on the July 30 harmonised elections.

A total of 49 people were injured when an explosive that was targeted at President Mnangagwa went off at the stadium.

Two of the injured, who are security officers, later died in hospital after sustaining serious injuries.

Addressing hundreds of people gathered at Chireya High School under Chief Chireya in Gokwe North for a Zanu-PF campaign rally, Acting President Chiwenga said progressive Zimbabweans should be alert so that such terrorist attacks don’t happen again.

A minute of silence was observed at the rally in honour of the officers killed in the attack.

“The enemies of the country wanted to do the unthinkable and end the leadership of the party, the leadership of the Government with a bomb that was thrown as President Mnangagwa was leaving the stage at White City Stadium in Bulawayo,” said Acting President Chiwenga.

“Forty-nine people were injured and two security officers lost their lives. The officers who lost their lives are (Nelson) Dube and (Stanley) Mugunzva. This terrorism won’t stop elections. Elections will go ahead as planned. Even if some people don’t want elections they must not resort to terrorist acts.”

Acting President Chiwenga said such attacks were not characteristic of Zimbabweans, adding that the law enforcement agents were working on the matter.

He assured the nation that perpetrators of the banditry act would be brought to book.

“Such acts are unZimbabwean, they are unAfrican and the police and other security agents are working on the matter and perpetrators will be caught,” said Acting President Chiwenga. “The law will take its course.

“It is painful, but as Zimbabweans we must now be vigilant so that such acts won’t happen again.”

Acting President Chiwenga said apart from the unfortunate White City Stadium banditry act, campaigns were generally being conducted in a peaceful manner.

“We want to hold peaceful and transparent elections and now we have violence-free campaigns which is commendable,” he said. “We don’t want violence. Anyone should be free to (vote for) a candidate of his or her choice.

“We want free, fair and credible elections. We have invited the EU, AU, SADC and other individual countries are here to observe the elections which we want to be held in a peaceful and transparent manner.”

Acting President Chiwenga said President Mnangagwa was the right candidate for the ruling party to take Zimbabwe to prosperity.

He said the ruling party’s aspiring MPs and councillors were tried and tested and should be able to bring forth development in their respective areas and country at large.

“Last year we celebrated a new dispensation under President Mnangagwa,” said Acting President Chiwenga. “That political development saw us standing on one leg with the other hanging in the air. Now, July 30 elections should see us standing on both legs and we should go in numbers and vote for President Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF.”

Acting President Chiwenga said President Mnangagwa had so far brought investment worth over $16 billion, adding that more socio-economic development opportunities were in the pipeline.

He said the ground breaking ceremony on Wednesday of the $1,5 billion Hwange Thermal Power Station expansion project for Unit 7 and 8 signalled a brighter future for the country, as power will be available for the mining and manufacturing industries.

“However, we must end corruption which is an evil that is derailing progress,” said Acting President Chiwenga. “The one who gives or receives a kickback for whatever favour is guilty of corruption and must be brought to book.

“For you cotton farmers, we want to bring cotton auction floors to your provinces so that you get higher rewards from your efforts. At the same time, Command Cotton will see us supporting you with inputs and chemicals.

“We are investing in a new cotton seed that will give you high returns even if you plant it on a smaller piece of land.”

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Zimbabwe Blast Victim Laid to Rest
 29 JUN, 2018 - 00:06

Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs Minister David Musabayana (right) hands over the national flag to Mrs Emilia Dube, widow to liberation war hero Cde Nelson Dube , who was laid to rest at his farm in Featherstone yesterday. - (Picture by Shelton Muchena)

Leroy Dzenga
Herald Reporter

Vice President Kembo Mohadi’s aide Cde Nelson Dube, who succumbed to injuries sustained during last week’s White City Stadium blast and was declared a liberation war hero, was buried yesterday.

Cde Dube, who died on Monday at Mpilo Central Hospital, was buried at his farm in Featherstone, about 100 kilometres south of Harare.

Director-General of the Central Intelligence Organisation Ambassador Elphas Moyo said Cde Dube’s death was a loss to the nation.

“Nelson showed his dedication to his work throughout his service,” he said. “The numbers that are here are a testament of the man he was. We are proud of the work he did.

“We thank President Mnangagwa and zanu-pf for conferring our late officer with a liberation war hero status. We will continue to support Nelson’s family, the relationship we had with his family will continue even after his unfortunate death.”

Mashonaland East Provincial Minister David Musabayana condemned the circumstances which led to Cde Dube’s death.

“Cde Dube`s death was caused by an act of evil,” he said. “President Mnangagwa is preaching unity and peace, but there were some who found it fit to perpetrate the act of terror. It is painful.

“The President is saying there should be unity before development. Let us heed his calls.”

Mashonaland East traditional leader Chief Musarurwa also consoled the Dube family.

“We are deeply hurt with Dube’s death,” he said. “He was a dedicated farmer whose productivity at the farm was exemplary. Blood was spilt for us to get this land, we do not expect more blood to be spilt in independent Zimbabwe.”

Cde Dube’s eldest son, Simbarashe, said his father always encouraged them to work for the country.

“He was a teacher to us who always emphasised on the need to uphold patriotic values,” he said. “His farm was his priority. He spent most of his time from work here at the farm. We are obviously hurt by the loss, but we have to remain brave and make him proud.”

Cde Dube fought in the liberation struggle, where he survived the Chimoio bombing in 1978 which killed thousands of freedom fighters.

After independence, he joined the Zimbabwean National Army for four years before resigning in 1983.

He spent two years completing his high school which had been disrupted by the war.

In 1985, he joined the Central Intelligence Organisation which he served for 33 years, rising to the rank of Chief Security Aide.

Cde Dube was 57 at the time of his untimely death and is survived by his wife Emilia and three children.
Zimbabwe Vice President Kembo Mohadi and Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri Airlifted to South Africa 
President Mnangagwa flanked by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa visit injured Zanu-PF chairperson Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri in a Bulawayo hospital after the bomb blast, which killed two people and injured more than 40 others.

Darlington Musarurwa in DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania
Zimbabwe Herald

President Mnangagwa yesterday said Vice President Kembo Mohadi and Zanu-PF national chairwoman Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri had been airlifted to South Africa where they were responding well to treatment following a bombing incident at the President’s campaign rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo last Saturday.

This was the first time the Head of State and Government has opened up on the condition of his lieutenants following the incident.

Vice President Mohadi, President Mnangagwa said, was seriously injured, but is now recovering.

Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri, who is also Environment, Water and Climate Minister, was operated on as shrapnel reportedly pierced through her chest. She is understood to be recovering as well.

Speaking at a Press conference at State House in Tanzania after holding talks with host President Dr John Magufuli, President Mnangagwa — who is here on a two-day State visit at the invitation of the East African country’s leader — said: “You might be aware about the events that took place Saturday when a hand grenade was thrown at me. But since you see me here, it means I am now fine.

“That was a minor incident, we are going to proceed with elections. We have opened up democratic space and we now have 133 political parties, but (for) President, we are better (than) Tanzania, we are 23 (candidates); here (in Tanzania), you had 42 candidates.”

According to President Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania will have an opportunity to deepen their relations after next month’s elections.

“After the elections — which of course I am going to win — in August, we will resuscitate the Permanent Joint Commission to deal with all areas, particularly the area of cooperation,” he said.

Zimbabwe and Tanzania, he added, are inextricably linked as the East African country used to provide moral, technical and material support to Zimbabwe’s liberation movements — then Zanu and Zapu— during the struggle for independence.

The role that Tanzania played as a “midwife” to the country’s independence, including to those of other African countries, added President Mnangagwa, should be both remembered and cherished.

“Tanzania is the midwife of our freedom,” he said. “It is our duty, we of the older generation, to teach that legacy. Tanzania must be understood and cherished by the younger generation.”

Tanzania, through then President Julius Nyerere, also played a key role in uniting the two revolutionary parties in Zimbabwe.

President Mnangagwa gave assurances that his administration will always highly regard former President Robert Mugabe’s legacy as an icon, founding father of the republic and Pan-Africanist.

He indicated that his political administration will only borrow the good lessons from the past in order to forge a sustainable platform for the country’s future growth.

“Our former President is the founding father; he is an icon and Pan-Africanist and that cannot be forgotten,” he said.

“We will engage with countries that had not engaged with us before, and we will re-engage with countries that had disengaged during the period of sanctions. We are saying let us re-engage. But this relates to countries or nations that are outside, but with countries such as Tanzania, that is not engagement – we are friends and brothers.

“The past is gone. The past has good lessons; the past has bad lessons; we should not forget the bad lessons, but we mustn’t carry them into the future.”

The new political administration was now seized with transforming the economy to provide decent jobs, eradicate poverty and create a society free from corruption, said President Mnangagwa.

Accordingly, Government is now making deliberate efforts to improve productivity on farms.

“Now the land reform is behind us, but now the task we have is to increase production; we have to modernise our agriculture; we have to mechanise our agriculture,” said President Mnangagwa. “Tanzania is ahead of us (in agriculture).”

Speaking at the same occasion, President Magufuli said it was time to use the strong political relations that exist between Zimbabwe and Tanzania as a plinth to deepen economic ties.

“We have agreed to use our membership of SADC to broaden our trade relations,” he said. “We have agreed with my colleague that the Joint Permanent Commission must meet immediately to deal with impediments to trade.”

There was scope, he said, for Zimbabwe to invest in agriculture and the agro-processing industry.

Instead of the two countries competing for space in the tourism industry, they could easily package their various tourism products such as the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro and beaches in Zanzibar (in Tanzania) as a single product, said President Magufuli.

He also believes the air service agreement between the two countries will help the country’s flag carrier ply the Tanzania and Zimbabwe route.

It is envisaged that trade relations will also cover health, ICT, arts, sports and defence and security.

President Magufuli particularly noted that local film production Neria had captured the imagination of some Tanzanians.

“Zimbabwe and Tanzania ties must be further enhanced as was in the past,” he said.

Despite the strong political relations between the two countries, trade volumes have remained worryingly low, rising from $8,5 million in 2016 to $9,5 million in 2017.

President Mnangagwa touched down at Julius Nyerere International Airport yesterday and was met by President Magufuli, charge de affairs of the Zimbabwean Embassy Mr Martin Tavenyika, and senior officials from the Tanzanian government.

Soon after his arrival, he received a 21-gun salute and inspected a guard of honour before he was treated to traditional music among a mosaic of pageantry that was rolled out by the host Government.

He later in the day met Zimbabweans living and working in Tanzania.

President Magufuli also held a State banquet for his guest.
Asia Reaffirms Its Friendship With Cuba
Friends of Cuba across Asia and Oceania support Cuba’s social project with their solidarity

Nuria Barbosa León |
June 28, 2018 16:06:31

Leima Martínez Freire, ICAP director for Asia and Oceania, emphasizes the friendship and support Cuba has in the region. Photo: Arielis González
Friends of Cuba in Asia and Oceania support Cuba’s social project with their solidarity, despite the geographic distance and cultural differences, according to Leima Martínez Freire, director for Asia at the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP).

Across the region, more than 108 groups in 20 countries are active.

Admiration of the island country exists even among those living in areas far removed from urban centers, because they have received support from Cuban educational and medical brigades.

Given the occurrence of earthquakes and other natural disasters, as well as cooperation programs in this part of the world, brigades from the Henry Reeve Contingent specialized in disasters and serious epidemics have offered medical attention to the population in several Asian countries, while youth from the region have graduated from Cuban universities, most commonly as medical doctors.

Martínez, who studied English language pedagogy, reported that every year solidarity organizations coordinate national and regional events to denounce the economic, commercial, and financial blockade of Cuba by the United States, and the return of territory illegally occupied by the U.S. Naval base in Guantánamo.

“This year, 2018, a national conference of friendship associations in Australia will be held in the city of Adelaide. Recently, friends from Vietnam, Japan, and South Korea participated in the May Day brigade, and in September we will celebrate the 45th anniversary of South Vietnam’s liberation and the visit by our Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro to liberated areas in South Vietnam,” the ICAP leader reported.

Activities have recalled the legacy of the leader of the Cuban Revolution and commemorated the 90th anniversary of the birth of Ernesto Che Guevara, who made several trips to the Asian continent as a Cuban leader in the 1960s, and participated in meetings of the Non-Aligned Movement.

“We are preparing a regional solidarity conference with friends from India, Nepal, and Pakistan, to be held in Nepal, even though there is no Cuban diplomatic mission there,” Martínez explained.

She emphasized that support exists for Cuba’s socialist project in Nepal and that friends there have done a great deal of work to refute media campaigns to discredit the Revolution.

Asian students at Cuban universities organize different activities with their respective diplomatic missions in Havana, to commemorate their countries’ historic and special dates, Martínez said, noting, “An organization entitled Asian Women functions here, and in the month of April will present an Asian Bazaar, to build connections and maintain the longstanding ties of sisterhood shared by our peoples.”

She also indicated that young Asian graduates from Cuba’s institutions of higher learning join efforts in their home countries, and have strengthened the activities of solidarity groups with their enthusiasm and energy.

“These young people lived with us more than six years, and become disseminators of Cuba’s reality. They have a deep understanding of the significance of the Revolution. They have been involved in the social project we are constructing and defend it on all stages,” Martínez said, citing the example of the more than 800 medical school graduates from Timor Leste who express great affection for Cuba.

Although the Polynesian island nations of Kiribati and Tuvalu do not have Cuban embassies, friends there are always sending messages of encouragement and support, the ICAP leader reported.

“On the 17th of every month, supporters in Australia hold demonstrations in front of the U.S. embassy to demand an end to its interventionist policies toward Cuba. Activists in other Asian countries have gotten their parliaments to approve resolutions demanding an end to the blockade,” Martínez said.

Many governments and legislatures have expressed their opposition to the blockade as an attempt to economically strangle the Cuban people, and because it harms other countries as well, Martínez added, saying, “They have suffered the consequences of the extraterritorial nature of this cruel policy.”

She also mentioned the work of the Southern Cross brigade, including participants from Australia and New Zealand, who travel to Cuba every New Year, to celebrate the triumph of the Revolution, and learn about the reality here interacting with the population.

They denounce the illegal occupation of Cuban territory in Guantánamo by the United States, which has a large number of military bases across Asia and Oceania as well, added motivation for their participation in the event held every two years, in Guantánamo, to abolish all foreign military bases, sponsored by the Cuban Peace Movement (Movpaz) and other organizations here.

These groups advocate the decolonization of occupied territory in the Middle East and support anti-capitalist and progressive movements in Latin America, especially Venezuela, Martínez said, noting, “We know how important it is to preserve Latin America as a Zone of Peace, as declared in Havana during the 2nd Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).”

The Friendship Institute’s director for Asia and Oceania says there is hard work to be done to increase the number of organizations and better channel the interest in Cuba, and unite these groups in an articulated force to oppose injustice around the world, adding, “Nevertheless, the road has been traveled. Now we just have to resist and confront the system of bourgeois oppression,” she concluded.
NATO: Deceptive and Broken Promises
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is taking new steps to move its military forces closer and closer to Russian territory

Elson Concepción Pérez |
June 27, 2018 18:06:50
Photo: Global research

NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is set on taking new steps in its aim to bring its military forces closer and closer to Russian territory.

The latest move is to sign up Georgia, a former Soviet republic, and preparations are also being made for the possible entry of Ukraine.

“Georgia has expressed its willingness to take the next steps. We will continue consultations with our partners and we will continue to implement reforms, which will ultimately help us enter NATO,” stated Georgian Foreign Minister Mikhail Janelidze.

NATO “has crossed the red line” and is using Cold War tactics to increase its military presence near Russian borders, authorities of the country noted.

The latest moves by the warmongering organization have led me to recall the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the United States, among other promises, assured then President Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand eastward.

It was the beginning of the 1990s, a true amalgam in which those who repented having experienced or tried to build a European socialist society intersected with those who sold their souls to the devil, and those who still trusted in the “benefits” of the change of system.

The years passed by, with window displays full of Western trash, along with the neoliberal policies of local governments that, in many cases, forgot the social benefits of the socialist years. And it must be said that there were great social achievements, and human solidarity was a banner of that socialism, although it had problems, mainly economic, that encouraged discontent.

It was a socialism without much waffle and few neon lights, but that guaranteed basic benefits to its citizens. It was, in addition, socialism in countries with average economic development.

It is worth remembering that, with the collapse and disintegration of the Soviet Union, associations such as the Warsaw Pact and COMECON, which underpinned the military balance so necessary in times of imperialist expansion, and economic collaboration among the socialist countries, also fell.

In both cases, but particularly that of the Warsaw Pact, the naive – and if only they were just that – believed the Western promises – of the United States – that NATO would never threaten or move its troops and military equipment closer to the eastern region that for so many decades was part of so-called European socialism.

I remember words like perestroika, glasnost, bridge building, and others that later began to be set aside with the same speed we saw citizens selling personal belongings as souvenirs of the socialist era on Charles Bridge, in Prague.

Almost three decades have passed and, far from improving security in Europe, abolishing militarism, devoting less money to defense budgets and more to social programs, the opposite has happened. The Warsaw Pact no longer exists, but NATO is strengthened every day with the monetary and manpower contributions from each of the countries it includes.

Today, the so-called North Atlantic Alliance can be found operating in Afghanistan, or Libya, Yugoslavia or Syria, and even intends to extend its tentacles to Colombia, Latin America.

And – what a coincidence! Poland, one of the former socialist countries that borders Russia, which joined NATO in 1999 together with Hungary and the Czech Republic, has increased its military personnel and now has the eighth largest army of the Alliance.

Another coincidence – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, three former Soviet republics, have also increased their military personnel numbers.

I don’t know whether politicians from the former European socialist camp, who once believed in the supposed promises of the U.S. that this military organization would never encroach on Russia, continue to maintain that “naïve” view, when everything indicates that NATO’s main target is Russia, which is why it is aiming to surround it and put it within reach of its weapons.

As an example, let us recall that in 2016, NATO approved an unprecedented increase of its military presence in Eastern Europe. This included the deployment of four multinational battalions in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.

At the same time, the warmongering Alliance has continued to expand its missile defense system, a U.S initiative that has taken hold in those places closest to Russian territory.

Although Western media coverage floods the planet in its attempt to create a global anti-Russian platform, the truth is very different and the current dangers are increasing.

NATO has crossed the red line and Russia has no choice but to prepare to respond to any Western aggression.


- NATO has around 3,174,000 military personnel. This figure is much higher if we consider it also has civilian staff and reserve forces.

- Its means of combat – almost all U.S made – are among the most sophisticated on the planet.

- NATO defense budget is over one billion dollars per year, or 57% of the world total.

- United States troops represent 41.2% of NATO’s military personnel.

- Of the 29 member countries of the Organization, seven have increased their military personnel numbers in the last three years.

- An increased presence of NATO troops has been seen in Eastern European countries, the closer to Russia the better.

- Poland, with the eighth biggest army of NATO, has increased its military personnel by 11,000, representing 11%.

- Other countries that have increased their number of troops are Estonia, from 5,400 to 5,700, representing a 5.5% increase; Latvia, from 4,800 to 5,700, or 18.75%; Lithuania, from 7,900 to 14,000, or 77.2%; Norway, from 19,000 to 20,000, or 5.26%; Romania, from 67,000 to 70,000, or 4.47%; and Canada, from 61,000 to 73,000, or 19.67%.
General Strike Against Failed Policy Paralyzes Argentina
The general strike against the Macri government’s deal with the International Monetary Fund, structural adjustment, austerity, redundancies, growing poverty and inflation, attempted labor reform, and to demand the reopening of salary negotiations paralyzed Argentina this Monday

International news staff |
June 27, 2018 11:06:42

The general strike against the Macri government’s deal with the International Monetary Fund, structural adjustment, austerity, redundancies, growing poverty and inflation, attempted labor reform, and to demand the reopening of salary negotiations, called by the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), with the support of all trade unions, paralyzed Argentina this Monday, June 25.

In the capital of Buenos Aires, strikers blocked access to the city with a huge march to the central Obelisk monument, surrounded by a mega-mobilization of security forces.

Workers and managers of small and medium companies, who have suffered with the closure of shops, small-scale producers and other sectors that had never participated in such a strike action also mobilized, in what was considered to be the largest general strike in recent years, reported La Jornada.

Train, bus, metro and even air transport came to a stop, while many businesses were closed.

A general strike means the failure of social dialogue and also failed policies, stated Juan Carlos Schmid, CGT leader. He added that unions had reached this point after having exhausted all other alternatives, and stressed that workers are striking in order to be able to continue working.

President Mauricio Macri and other governmental officials criticized the strike. Labor Minister Jorge Triaca said that the move did not help at all. However, he admitted that “The government has to correct its economic program.”

Héctor Daer, of the country’s health union, stressed that health sector workers are paying a disproportionate income tax rate, further impacting their salaries. He also noted that the governmental had not responded to their proposals to protect jobs, the purchasing power of wages and workers’ health.

It was also learned that the workers’ assembly of the Télam state-run national news agency confirmed they had voted on Monday to continue an indefinite strike following the dismissal of two colleagues over the content of a news wire. The Press Union of Buenos Aires (SiPreBa) described the measure adopted by the agency Board as “mistaken” and demanded that the decision be reversed.

“This government has taken money from workers and retirees… in a very clear economic program,” stated Deputy and former Economic minister Axel Kicillof, who added: “Every time something similar has been applied in the country, it has been disastrous, with increasingly destroyed and excluded sectors. It’s a government that opens up imports, lowers wages and reins in public spending, does not finance health or education, so only the big speculators do well.”
New Madagascar Prime Minister Vows ‘Free’ Elections
28 June 2018|1:43 pm

Madagascar’s newly appointed Prime Minister Christian Ntsay speaks to the media during his handover ceremony in Antananarivo, Madagascar June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Clarel Faniry Rasoanaivo

Madagascar’s new Prime Minister Christian Ntsay vowed Thursday that elections would be “transparent” and “free” after the Constitutional Court had ordered the formation of a “consensus” government to stage the polls by year’s end.

The Indian Ocean island nation had been in the grip of a growing crisis over proposed electoral reforms that triggered mass protests and led the court to order a care-taker government to organise a fresh ballot.

“A transparent and free election is our main priority,” said Ntsay in parliament which has just resumed normal business after several months of instability.

He added that the government would not stop “anyone from (contesting) the election” and would soon publish the law formally mandating the polls.

The original draft of the electoral laws prompted widespread protests with opposition supporters accusing President Heri Rajaonarimampianina of seeking to favour his party. Those demonstrations evolved into calls for the president to resign.

To avert the breakdown of Madagascar’s political system, the Constitutional Court last month ordered the appointment of a government representative of all parties and capable of organising polls by the end of the year.

The court also ruled that the polls should be held during the island’s dry season which is between now and October — but no specific date was given.

President Rajaonarimampianina has yet to say whether he will seek re-election in the polls which will be contested by two of his predecessors and arch-rivals Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina.
Rice Production Threatened as Farmers Remain in IDP Camps
By Hope Abah, Makurdi
Nigeria Daily Trust
Jun 28 2018 3:50AM

There are fears of impending rice insufficiency by the end of this year’s cropping season as over 12,000 rice farmers, still in various Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDPs) camps across Benue State, are unable to return to their farms to engage in their age-long occupation.

Benue is one of the states noted for massive rice production in the country.

The concern is coming even as the Federal Government begins clampdown on smugglers of foreign rice into the country and the closure of the nation’s land border to stem the import.

Reports also indicate that farming activities are under similar threat in Kaduna, Zamfara, parts of Niger State and many areas in the North-east.

Our correspondent in Benue reports that all of the about 180,000 rural population taking shelter at eight IDPs camps are mostly farmers displaced from rice producing communities of Guma, Logo and Gwer local government areas of the state.

Terhile Phillips, 42, is a rice farmer who had been displaced from his rural abode since February, this year after an attack launched in his community in Guma LGA by suspected militia.

Phillips and his family of five, ever since the incident, live at the Abagana IDPs camp at the outskirts of Makurdi. He wants to go back to his home and to his farm for the wet season rice production it, however, has not been possible to do so as his community is still allegedly under siege by the militia.

“We are many at the camp, who have been affected by this cruel fate. The worst of it is that the areas affected are the highest rice producing communities of the state which makes me fear that hunger looms this year as rice production is affected in general,” Phillips said.

 Similarly, Tarnongo Vitalis, a large-scale rice farmer, who though lives in Makurdi, is worried that not only would his fortune dwindle this season but the state and country at large may suffer rice insufficiency because of the crisis which has prevented farmers from farming.

 Vitalis, who cultivates over 350 hectares of rice yearly in both Guma and Logo communities affected by the crisis, said he could no longer go to his farm, talk less of clearing or planting for the wet season.

 He said, “I don’t have a rice farm again because the killer gangs in Benue have taken over the communities where my farms are situated. I own 350 hectares of rice farmland where I do both dry and wet season cultivation but as we speak, I have no hope of returning there.

 “By this time last year, the land was already cleared and prepared for the two seasons of rice production but now there is no way in sight. Even the paddy harvested last year was burnt by the invaders. It is unfortunate that this crisis has taken over rice producing areas such as Guma, Naka, Gwer West and Logo among others.”

 According to the state chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Comrade Aondona Kuhe, at least 12,000 rice farmers inhabit the various camps after their displacement from their homes since the beginning of their year.

 Kuhe said most rice producing communities were affected by the crisis and as such the farmers are yet to fully return to their farming activities despite the government’s effort which was beginning to facilitate movement.

 “Government is facilitating movement bit by bit but the effort doesn’t seem to be yielding result as expected because those who went back home were attacked. As of now, few farmers would go to their farms in the day but can’t return to their homes because they could be killed.

 “This development can affect not only rice production in the state but food sufficiency in the country. We are in talks with government to help train the farms while they are in camp so that as the tension is gradually reducing, there could be a way out for them to return to their occupation,” the AFAN chairman posited.

 Some farmers, such as Wende Nancy who spoke to our correspondent, said the situation posed serious threat to rice production in the state as some farmers were recently killed at Ikpayongo, near Makurdi.

The Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, James Anbua, lamented the unpleasant situation and appealed to the relevant authorities to end the killings in the state to enable farmers go back to their homes and farms.

 Anbua, however, noted that farmers are currently engaged in rice cultivation in safe areas of the state, adding that government was not relenting in ensuring that farmers took advantage of the upland areas to engage in serious rice production.
Scores Dead, 57 Vehicles Burnt as Tanker Explodes on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway
By Eugene Agha, Lagos
Nigeria Daily Trust
Jun 28 2018 7:47PM

About 54 vehicles have been reported burnt while scores of people killed in an explosion involving a petrol tanker that occurred at the Otedola bridge end of the Lagos -Ibadan expressway on Thursday.

The explosion created heavy pandemonium on both sides of the ever-busy expressway as scores of people struggled to escape from the area.

It was gathered that the fire created by the explosion engulfed virtually all the cars around the area.

Ten dead bodies have so far being brought out of some vehicles that were trapped when the fire started.

Although official figure as to the number of casualties was yet to be ascertained, it was gathered that over 40 cars have been razed alongside its occupants.

It was gathered that the casualty figure might be on the high side because of the huge vehicular traffic on the bridge before the explosion went off.

Already, emergency agencies like the Rapid Response Squad (RRS), the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and other secondary responders have been deployed to the scene.

Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Chike Oti said: "57 vehicles were burnt while ten bodies that were burnt beyond recognition were recovered.

He said the fire is now under control as rescuers from various government agencies are battling the situation.

However, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal, has advised motorists to avoid the Lagos- Ibadan expressway as a result of the petrol tanker explosion which occurred on the Otedola bridge.
Will the Supreme Court’s Janus Decision Sink California Unions?
UC Irvine Medical Center admissions worker Stephanie Le, leads a chant with union workers outside the hospital in Orange in May 2018. In the wake  of a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Janus vs. ASCME, in June 2018, public employee unions are protesting the outlawing of fair-share fees for collective bargaining. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Orange County Register
June 28, 2018 at 1:33 pm

Soft spoken and bespectacled, Diana Corral, a 36-year old Orange County social worker, hardly fits the stereotype of union boss.

“I love my job because I love helping people,” she said of her work as an eligibility specialist who guides the poor, the disabled and the homeless in applying for food stamps, Medi-Cal heath insurance and cash assistance.

But as president of Local 2076 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, with 1,450 members, Corral is one of hundreds of public-sector union leaders on the warpath across California to counter the effect of Wednesday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision, Janus v. AFSCME.

The decision, overturning four decades of legal precedent, outlawed so-called “fair-share” or “agency” fees levied by government unions. The fees, paid by workers who decline to join a union, have offset the costs of collective bargaining. As unions are forced to represent so-called free riders, analysts predict widespread defections of dues-paying members, crippling the labor movement and its allies in the Democratic Party.

But in California, with 1.5 million union-covered public employees and a labor-friendly legislature, that assumption might be wrong.

The Janus case “riled people up,” Corral said. “It sparked something in us. We see the inequity; the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. More of our members want to organize to fight for the working class; to protect what little we still have.”

At her Anaheim local, that has meant new “member action teams” fanning across 14 work sites, asking colleagues to sign “commitment cards.” The cards, which she said have been signed by more than 90 percent of her members, legally re-enroll them for a year or until their bargaining contract expires.

Over two years, 150 of the local’s 200 non-union fair-share payers — those who paid $12.42 in biweekly fees, rather than full dues of $19.34 — signed up to become full-paying members.

Supreme Court cases

The cards are part of a statewide, below-the-radar organizing push launched after a 2014 Supreme Court case, Harris v. Quinn, that allowed homecare workers to drop fair-share fees. Conservative groups and business interests then backed a broader suit filed by Orange County teacher Rebecca Friedrichs to abolish the fees at all public sector unions.

When the court deadlocked over the Friedrichs case in 2016, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the arguments were revived by Mark Janus, an Illinois state worker who opposed his union’s political stances, contending the fees violated his free-speech rights.

“These court cases were a wakeup call across the entire labor movement that internal organizing had to be an absolute priority,” said Steve Smith, a spokesman for the California Labor Federation, an umbrella group for 1,200 local unions.

The result?  “A silver lining,” Smith said. “You hate to have a gun pointed at your head. But unions stepped up in a big way across the state to make sure we not only survive, but we build strength.”

Nationally, just 6.5 percent of the private sector workforce is unionized, but unions represent 34.4 percent of public-sector employees. In California, 55 percent of all union members are civil servants — police officers, sheriff’s deputies, teachers, firefighters, garbage collectors, nurses, bus drivers, water quality specialists, road repair laborers, prison guards and workers in scores of other occupations.

Federal law requires unions to negotiate wages and benefits on behalf of all employees in their workplaces, regardless of whether they join the union. Fair-share fees meant non-members chipped in for the cost of representation, but not for political activities.

Without the fees, Catherine Fisk, a UC Berkeley labor law professor, predicts that “unions will suffer a substantial loss in funds…Economists know it’s economically rational for people to free ride on payments made by others.”

In May, a study by the University of Illinois and the Illinois Economic Policy Institute estimated that outlawing public sector fair-share fees could eventually result in the loss of 189,000 union members in California, more than in any other state.

Dream or nightmare?

But out of the public eye, labor groups have been mounting intensive night and weekend trainings with role-playing on how to approach fellow members. Officials tout membership benefits such as free online college classes offered by AFSCME. They cite a UC Berkeley study showing workers covered by a union contract earn on average 13 percent more than non-union peers.

Another talking point: labor’s clout in pushing California minimum wage, sick pay, parental leave and health insurance laws that benefit non-union workers too, along with its political organizing around public school and affordable housing bond measures.

And they describe Janus in terms of its “billionaire corporate funders,” such as the  Koch brothers of the Kansas oil conglomerate and the Walmart heirs’ Walton Family Foundation.

“Big employers and right-wing activists have plotted for decades,” said Rusty Hicks, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, whose 300 affiliates represent 800,000 workers. “Their dream is the demise of the labor movement.

“But Janus could end up being a nightmare for them,” Hicks added.

“We see a groundswell of energy and support for a collective voice on the job… Polls show 60 percent of Americans favor unions, and among 18 to 35 year olds, its 70 percent. This decision isn’t an apocalyptic moment for the labor movement.”

New California laws facilitate labor organizing. Corral, at the Anaheim local, cited a measure requiring agencies to notify unions of new hires. “Before, it was word of mouth,” she said. “Folks would have to say, ‘hey, there are some new people in the building.’”

Another law ensures union access to orientation sessions for new employees. A third measure restricts the disclosure of workers’ personal email addresses—information that union opponents have sought.

Freedom Foundation

“California’s union-dominated legislature is resisting changes at the federal level,” wrote Steven Greenhut, Western region director for the R Street Institute, a libertarian think tank, in a recent article. Janus, he predicted, “will help level the battlefield, but conservatives still have a long fight ahead.”

Advocates of so-called “right-to-work” laws that restrict mandatory union fees say labor’s new vigor is already hampering their efforts.

“The commitment cards make it much more difficult to opt out of unions,” said Samuel Han, California director for the Freedom Foundation, a Washington state group which expanded to the Golden State last year. “People are signing a death warrant on their First Amendment rights.”

Unions allow a narrow annual window—often just 15 days—during which members can resign, he notes. “If they force you to stay a year, then maybe they can convince you to stay longer. They can send people to harass you.”

The foundation emailed 76,000 teachers in Los Angeles and San Diego last month, urging them to withdraw from their unions. Only 160 filled out forms on the foundation’s website, Han acknowledged, attributing the low number to spam-blocking and summer vacations.

The foundation plans to ratchet up its teacher blitz with door-to-door canvassers, social media, radio and television spots, and more emails. “We have a team of attorneys to send threatening letters” to unions on behalf of those who want to opt-out, Han added.

The teacher campaign builds on the foundation’s two-year Orange County-based effort to persuade California homecare providers to drop union membership. Minimum wage In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) workers, numbering nearly 500,000, are paid through Medi-Cal to care for low-income disabled and elderly patients at their home—a cheaper alternative to nursing facilities.

The foundation’s public records request to obtain caregivers’ addresses and telephone numbers was turned down in Orange County last year. But in January, Han, a former Republican legislative aide, persuaded the all-GOP Board of Supervisors to adopt a script at IHSS orientations telling new providers they can avoid paying union dues and skip the union’s presentation.

A union surge

Doug Moore, executive director of the United Domestic Workers, which represents more than a third of California’s homecare workers, including in Orange and Riverside, said his union lost 30,000 fair-share payers statewide after the 2014 Harris v. Quinn decision.

But the United Domestic Workers union turbo-charged recruitment and services with focus groups, text messaging and door-to-door canvassers armed with ipads. The union also instituted “tele-town hall meetings” that members can follow on their smart phones and created an app to help caregivers calculate their hours and pay.

The union reminded workers it had successfully fought in court and in the legislature against proposals by Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown to cut the home care program and limit their wages and hours.

The UDW effort paid off. Over three years, Moore said, the number of full dues-paying members rose to74,000 from about 37,000.

“The other side is organized, sophisticated, and ready to pounce with more lawsuits and millions of dollars from the Koch brothers and ALEC,” he added, referring to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a 50-state corporate-funded group that promotes conservative initiatives.

“But we built trust with our members,” Moore said. “They know we’re fighting for them.”

At Local 721 of the Service Employees International Union, about ten percent of 95,000 covered workers across Southern California were fair-share payers, according to President Bob Schoonover.

The local administers 140 contracts for workers in hospitals, foster care, mental health, courts, law enforcement, libraries, street services, beach maintenance, sanitation, water treatment, parks services and watershed management.

“We’ve had four years to prepare for Janus,” Schoonover said, adding that some 500 activists have taken the union’s eight-session “Rise and Resist” training courses. So far, 60,000 members have signed commitment cards.

“We talked a lot about labor history over the last 30 years,” he added. “Attacks on labor have driven down good paying jobs. Moms used to have a choice as to whether to go to work or not. Now a lot of people have to work two jobs to make ends meet.”

More lawsuits?

California’s public universities have also seen an organizing surge. Dues-paying members in Teamsters Local 2010, which represents clerical employees and skilled-trades workers at 27 University of California and  Cal State campuses, grew to 83 percent from 29 percent in four years, according to spokesman Christian Castro.

Fair-share payers dropped to 17 percent, he added, and so far 9,000 of 14,000 members have signed the union’s “Member Power Form,” as it calls its commitment cards.

Even in Republican-leaning Orange County, Jennifer Beuthin, general manager of the 18,000-member Orange County Employees Association, said intense pre-Janus organizing means “we are not going to miss a beat.” Her union expanded its shop steward force to 320 from 200.

“Orange County has been a testing ground for anti-worker ideas,” Beuthin added. “Cities have tried to outsource public works so corporations can grab public money. Our members want to protect their pay, their healthcare, their retirement security.”

If unions have amped up, however, they are under no illusion that Janus will be the last battle in the collective bargaining war. This week, Akash Chougule, policy director for the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, a 34-state political powerhouse, called Janus “the beginning, rather than the end, of legal and legislative questions about worker-union relations.”

New lawsuits are on the way, he suggested, challenging unions’ right to represent all employees at a work site, attacking limited opt-out windows and forcing unions to regularly hold re-certification votes.

Last week, at the cramped Anaheim office of Local 2076, Corral, the social worker and union president, read out names and employee numbers from a stack of blue and green 5 x 7 cards as a co-worker cross-checked the information in a database on her laptop.

It was tedious work. “We’ve been at this for three years,” Corral said. “Volunteering can be hard on your personal life. You have to have the passion for it.”

For her, it is about “the unfairness that’s out there,” she said. “Life is a lot harder for us than for our parents. They could afford a house in Orange County, but many of our members can’t. And they have student loans.”

Corral, who has a bachelor’s degree in social work from Mount Saint Mary’s University, earns $56,000 a year, below the California average of $58,000.

“Folks have a misperception that public employees are ‘living large’ and getting bloated pensions,” she added.

“That’s totally wrong. We are just ordinary people getting modest wages and benefits that lift us into the middle class. We are the real face of every-day public service.”

Margot Roosevelt covers economic news. She has been a staff reporter at The Orange County Register since 2012. Before that, she was on staff at the Los Angeles Times, covering environmental news. Earlier jobs: Congressional reporter for the Washington Post; foreign and national correspondent for Time Magazine.
Local Union Leaders, Lawmakers Rally to Denounce Supreme Court Ruling on Public-sector Unions
05:53PM, JUNE 27, 2018
Q13 Fox News

SEATTLE – Wednesday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision deals with employees working within the public sector, but the decision has also galvanized union employees in the private sector.

Dozens of people gathered at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center to rally against the ruling, saying now is the time to fight back.

They gathered with signs and shouted slogans, all to show a united front.

“That’s irrational, that’s craziness and we’ve got to get out there and organize,” said King County Councilmember Larry Gossett.

“We do ourselves no service by sugar-coating it,” said Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, “This is a major defeat for our embattled labor movement.”

City and county leaders fired up the crowd of both public- and private-sector union members – reminding everyone of the progress already made in Seattle.

“Unions are the backbone of the campaign that won $15 an hour, that won sick and safe leave, that won equal pay for equal work,” said Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda.

The Supreme Court reversed a 1977 decision that determined laws requiring public employees to pay dues and fees to unions, even if all workers did not to join, was a violation of their right to free speech.

The plaintiff in the case is an Illinois state employee, but there is some Washington involvement in the landmark decision.

“The better off working people are, the better off the country is,” said Local 17 union member Denise Krownbell.

Krownbell is shop steward at Seattle City Light and a proud member of her union. She worries the decision could have a ripple-effect on the entire workers  movement.

“Our working conditions impact how we perform and if we’re not getting paid well, if we’re being discriminated against, health care issues, that all reflects the service of work we give to you,” she said.

Private-sector union workers vowed to stand firm with their public worker counterparts while local lawmakers pledged to continue fighting for better pay and working conditions.

“The Supreme Court has made some terrible decisions in the past,” said Mosqueda. “This, too, is a terrible decision and we can’t wait 50 years for this to be overturned.”

“I am angry, we are angry,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “In November (general election), we are going to get even.”