Thursday, February 28, 2019

Buhari's Poll Rhetoric: 'Shoot to Kill,' Self Congrats, Elections Not War
Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban
Africa News

Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president-elect just won an election that was deemed too close to call. The February 16 poll was eventually postponed to February 24.

After weeks of campaigning, touring all 36 states of the federation, Buhari was banking on his first term for a second and final term in charge of Africa’s most populous nation.

The term four plus four became synonymous with the Buhari campaign even as his main contender Atiku Abubakar – a former vice-president said he was on a mission to “Get Nigeria Working Again.”

This article looks back at the 76-year-old’s rhetoric in the wake of the postponement through to self congratulations and rather conciliatory tone after he was declared winner on February 27.

February 18: Shoot to kill orders

These comments were made on the Monday after the elections were postponed after the elections body, INEC, cited logistical issues especially transporting voting materials across the country.

Buhari was speaking at a national caucus of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in the capital Abuja.

“I do not expect anybody to make any disturbance. I have briefed the law enforcement agencies and the military, they have identified hot spots, flash points, they should be prepared to move.

“I really gave the military and police order to be ruthless… Anybody who thinks he has enough influence in his locality to lead a body of thugs to snatch ballot boxes or disturbs the voting system, will do so at the expense of his own life.

“We are not going to be blamed that we want to rig elections. I want Nigerians to be respected, let them vote whoever they want across the parties.”

Buhari’s comments was met with a swift riposte from the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Whiles they accused Buhari of giving shoot to kill orders, pro-government activists insist that he was only speaking in the language that ballot snatchers understand.

February 23: I’ll congratulate myself

After casting his ballot on February 23 in his home town of Daura in Katsina State, the president said he was set to congratulate himself because he was going to win the polls.

In his words: “It is my constituency here, I’m pleased people are already lined up so at the same time the vote can continue, thank you very much.

(REPORTER ASKING: How do you feel yourself sir?”) Well so far, so good. Nigerians understand that they are believing themselves.

(REPORTER ASKING: “Are you hopeful?”) Very hopeful indeed. (REPORTER ASKING: “If you lose will you accept defeat and congratulate the winner?) I will congratulate myself, I’m going to be the winner. Thank you very much.”

February 27: Elections are not war

On the dawn of February 27, INEC declared Buhari winner of the polls and arranged for his certificate of return to be presented later in the day. Buhari’s remarks afterwards was conciliatory with a rallying call to unite and work to improve Nigeria.

“I would like to make a special appeal to my supporters not to gloat or humiliate the opposition. Victory is enough reward for your efforts.

“Election is not war, and should never be seen as a do-or-die affair. I pray that we all accept this democratic approach to elections, however contentious.

“All Nigerians going forward must stand in brotherhood for a bright and fulfilling future. I therefore want to assure that we will continue to engage all parties that have the best interest of Nigerians at heart.

“Our government will remain inclusive and our doors will remain open. That is the way to build the country of our dreams – safe, secure, prosperous and free of impunity and primitive accumulation by those entrusted with public offices.”
Comoros Opposition Demands Electoral Reforms
Eleven candidates in the Comoros have called for a review of the country’s electoral process ahead of the March 24 presidential elections. The collective of opposition parties on Wednesday demanded a credible and transparent vote.

Opposition spokesman, Moustoifa Said Cheikh told reporters that they believe guarantees for a free and fair elections have not been met by the current regime.

They are also demanding a manual counting of votes in all polling stations in the full glare of representatives of candidates on election day.

In early February, the Supreme Court cleared the way for thirteen candidates to run in the March 24 presidential elections.

The court rejected the candidacy of two main opponents, Mohamed Ali Soilihi, now leader of the opposition Union, which includes a dozen other parties, and Ibrahim Mohamed Soulé, of the Juwa party.

Huge Explosions Rock Somalia Capital Mogadishu, Deaths Reported
Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban
Africa News

Deadly bomb blasts in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on Thursday evening claimed the lives of over a dozen persons, according to local media reports.

The first attack was executed on the Maka l-Mukarama road, a busy area where locals and others meet to socialize daily. The blasts were also accompanied by gunfire.

There was an estimated duration of an hour between the first and second blasts. the second took place outside an area called Nasa Hablod 1 close to the famed K4 junction.

Harun Maruf, a journalist and author with the Voice of America, VOA, said the blast was one of the heaviest in recent times. A huge fire is seen in photos shared on social media.

“This kind of bombing in one of the most populated areas of Mogadishu, at a time when ordinary people sit outside hotels and restaurants just to socialise. Horrific scenes,” the journalist said in a tweet.

Several buildings including the Ga’al Pharmacy, Wardhere Hotel and two restaurants were damaged from the impact. With dark already falling, police and rescue agents had a hard time accessing the scene.

Maruf refers to the situation as a complex attack because of exchange of gunfire and grenade explosion inside the Maka Al-Mukarama hotel. residents say insurgent group Al-Shabaab have men in the hotel carrying out the operation.

The group had earlier said they were behind the attack. They have often deployed fighters to inflict deadly attacks on members of the security forces, the ordinary population and other peace keeping contingents across the country.
DRC President Visits Namibia's First President, Sam Nujoma
Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban
Africa News

Felix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, ended his official visit to Namibia on Wednesday after a series of activities with his host Hage Geingob.

Having arrived on Tuesday and holding a joint press conference with Geingob, Tshisekedi who was accompanied by his wife were hosted to an official dinner in his honour.

A highlight of his engagement on Wednesday was meeting with Sam Nujoma, Namibian revolutionary and its first president.

The DRC presidency said Tshisekedi had paid tribute to Nujoma who was described as one of the fathers of pan-Africanism. The two were pictured in a warm embrace with smiles.

Full name, Samuel Shafiishuna Daniel Nujoma, is revered as a revolutionary and anti-apartheid activist. He transited into politics and served three terms as the first President of Namibia, from 1990 to 2005.

The octogenarian was a founding member and the first president of the South West Africa People’s Organization, SWAPO, in 1960. The party is still the ruling party under the leadership of President Hage Geingob.

Tshisekedi also met with the Congolese diaspora in Windhoek at the Hilton Hotel giving assurances of his plans for the country that has been riled by violence and which continues to grapple with human rights concerns.

Namibia was the second country in the southern Africa region that he has visited. His first stop was in Angola. He has also visited Kenya, Congo Republic and Ethiopia, where he attended his first African Union summit.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

South Africa's Ruling ANC Expresses Solidarity with Venezuela
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks in parliament in Cape Town, South Africa. | Photo: Reuters

26 February 2019

The ANC said they would send a “Tripartite Alliance delegation led by the Secretary-General" to "Venezuela on a fact-finding mission.”

The National Working Committee (NWC) of the African National Congress (ANC) expressed their solidarity with the Venezuela people and discussed internal matters in a meeting Monday.

In a statement released Tuesday, the ANC and its Alliance partners “affirmed their solidarity with the people of Venezuela in finding a political solution to the benefit of all the people of Venezuela.”

The group said that the Secretary-General would soon lead a Tripartite Alliance delegation to Venezuela on a fact-finding mission.

In the meeting, the NWC also celebrated South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s election as the African Union Chairperson for 2020 and welcomed the Rapid Response Team’s interventions in the North-West region of South Africa.

However, the group noted serious rape allegations which leveled against members Cde Pule Mabe and Cde Zizi Kodwa, who have voluntarily elected to stand down as spokespersons until the allegations have been tested, but will remain members of the National Executive Committee (NEC). 

“Gender-based violence is an endemic problem in our society which should not be reduced to individual leaders,” the statement said. “The ANC is committed to fighting gender-based violence wherever it occurs and takes allegations against any person with the seriousness it deserves.”

The ANC Women's League (ANCWL) secretary general Meokgo Matuba said the ANC must work with South African Police Services to find out if there is any case reported against Kodwa and consider suspending him from all ANC duties with immediate effect pending the outcome of the case.

"Whilst we take into account the principles of innocent until proven guilty, the ANCWL is resolute in supporting the victims of sexual harassment and rape, and we wish to reiterate this position," Matuba said.

South Africa’s sixth general election since the end of apartheid in 1994 will take place May 8. The country will elect a new National Assembly and new provincial legislatures in each province as well as the next president.

“We are encouraged that South African remain confident that the ANC is the only party that has the capacity to grow South Africa and realize the vision of a better life for all,” the group said.
Lula: Brazil 'Cannot Submit to US Imperialism' in Venezuela
A picture of Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva outside the Federal Police headquarters in Curitiba where Lula is a political prisoner Feb. 7, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 26 February 2019

In a letter penned from prison, former president Lula Da Silva says that the U.S. and Brazil shouldn't intervene in Venezuela, and criticized the U.S. blockade as a 'dirty trick'.

Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva spoke out from prison against the U.S. using Brazil as a puppet to intervene in Venezuela, saying that Jair Bolsonaro is “submissive” to the U.S. by joining its attack on Venezuela.

In a letter to the editors of the “alternative” news outlet, Nocaute, Lula states, “We cannot allow Brazil to submit to the United States. We can not turn Brazil over to imperialism.”

Lula was imprisoned in April 2018 after being convicted in the region-wide Lava Jato corruption case but is internationally recognized as a political prisoner. Being in custody for nearly a year prevented the widely popular politician from carrying out a full campaign for last October’s presidential elections, paving the way for far-right Jair Bolsonaro to win at the polls.

The former head of state goes on to say in his handwritten letter: “We cannot turn Brazil over to imperialism. (Our) fight for sovereignty is a demonstration of patriotism and dignity.” The Workers’ Party (PT) leader says that “Venezuela’s issue is not for Americans.”

Lula called attention to the misinformation regarding Venezuela by the international mass media stating, “just to say that the people are starving, and not to mention the (U.S.) blockade, is a dirty trick.”

The U.S. administration under President Donald Trump has been escalating economic sanctions against the oil-rich country of Venezuela since at least August 2017. The measures have severely limited the country’s ability to do business with and receive imports from foreign nations and have cost Venezuela upwards of US$38 billion. The loss in national revenue pales in comparison to the US$20 million in U.S. “humanitarian aid” that failed to make it into Venezuela from Colombia over the weekend.

“The (economic) block is killing children, innocent men and women, and the Americans are experts at blocking, Cuba can attest to that,” says Lula to the Nocaute editor Fernando de Morais and journalist, Ana Roxo.

Bolsonaro's government allowed two trucks with the supposed aid to go to the border with Venezuela last Saturday in an attempt to forcibly enter this "aid" into Venezuela against the sovereignty of the Bolivarian nation.

“Love will always win. The truth will always win. We will win because we have the truth,” wrote Lula from his prison in Curitiba, Brazil. “Dear Fernando, I continue to affirm: I do not change my dignity for my freedom. I am sure, History will absolve me (Fidel),” ended the social movement and political party leader.

The political prisoner was recently sentenced to another 12 years on top of those he has already been serving since nearly a year ago.
CARICOM Reiterates Support for Peaceful Resolution in Venezuela
 The Caricom meeting began Tuesday morning on the dual-island nation of St. Kitts and Navis

26 February 2019

As political and economic events unfold in various countries in the region, including Haiti, Venezuela, and Guyana, the 15-member group aims to de-escalate tensions.

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders concluded a two-day summit Tuesday in Basseterre, on the dual-island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis, where the member countries once again reiterated their support for a peaceful resolution in regards to Venezuela while rejecting interference.

“Our community could be justifiably proud of our stance and efforts to help the people of Venezuela resolve their crisis. I have no doubt in my mind that the principled position taken by CARICOM working with like-minded countries has prevented so far a catastrophe on our borders. We will continue to urge that dialogue is the only way to achieve a lasting solution,” said CARICOM chairman, and host Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris

He commended Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and the Secretary-General of CARICOM for “promoting and supporting a peaceful resolution to the situation in Venezuela.”

In a statement published on CARICOM’s website after the summit, the organization said, “The Community maintains that the solution must come from among the Venezuelan people and abides by the internationally recognized and accepted principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of states, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for human rights and democracy.”

CARICOM has intended to play a leading role in trying to diffuse the situation in the South American country of Venezuela where Opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president, is leading an effort to remove President Nicolas Maduro from office.

Guaido has the backing of the United States and several other right-wing governments in the region, while many nations in the global south, continue to recognize President Maduro as the country's legitimate president despite pressure from western nations.

Over the last weekend, the military in Venezuela prevented the so-called aid from Washington from entering the country through Brazil and Colombia and United States Vice President Mike Pence met with Guaido in Bogota Monday amid reports of more sanctions being imposed on Caracas.

In later meetings, Harris, who led a CARICOM delegation to Uruguay, is expected to bring all the leaders up-to-date on the Montevideo Mechanism in response to the call by the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, to find a pathway to a peaceful resolution through dialogue and from a position of respect for International Law and Human Rights.

Earlier this month, Harris said the proposal presents “the only objective mechanism” to address the complex political situation in Venezuela and that it is the only initiative available for international actors “who want to see peace in Venezuela.

“We expect that the Montevideo Mechanism will become a landmark document in terms of moving forward. Not only will it survive in the context of what is happening in the Republic of Venezuela, but I believe it provides a platform, if you will, a framework for engagement in other disputes that would impact upon us,” Harris said.

As the Venezuela crisis continues, a political situation is unfolding in Guyana, where the coalition government of President David Granger has collapsed after the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) had been able to successfully move a motion of no confidence in the National Assembly Dec. 21, 2018, where the government had enjoyed a one-seat majority.

The Granger administration has since filed a motion in the Appeal Court seeking to overturn a High Court ruling in January that the motion was valid and which refused to provide a conservatory order, thereby halting the 90 day period required by the Guyana Constitution for new elections to be held -- once a motion has been successfully passed against the government.

Simultaneously in Haiti, the only French-speaking member within the CARICOM group, political protests over government corruption and high oil prices have also been ongoing.

President Jovenel Moise, who took up office in 2017 following protracted elections, is under pressure from opposition parties to step down over his handling of domestic affairs as well as the use of funds under the PetroCaribe an oil alliance of many Caribbean states with Venezuela.

Several people have died since the street demonstrations started. In an earlier statement,  CARICOM said the organization “is deeply concerned about the continuing violent protests in Haiti, which have resulted in the loss of life, property, destruction of infrastructure and caused grave distress.”

“The Community calls for calm and a cessation of the violence, appealing to all involved to engage in constructive dialogue and to respect the Constitution, the rule of law and democratic processes so that issues can be resolved in a peaceful atmosphere and allow for the return to a state of normalcy,” CARICOM said. President Moise has already indicated that he does not intend to step down, acknowledging that “the crisis we are going through is very serious”.

In all of this, the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat said that enhancing regional air and maritime transportation and further advancing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services, across the region, will be among the matters for deliberation.
UN Senior Official Seeks Dialogue in Venezuela Ahead of UNSC Meeting
U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, Feb. 26, 2019.

26 February 2019

The United Nations encourages political solutions, saying military interventions no longer have a chance in Latin America.

Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Amina Mohammed insisted Tuesday on the need for the Venezuelan government and the opposition to negotiate, avoid politicizing humanitarian aid and to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. The United States has also called for a special Security Council meeting.

"We encourage both parties to sit down at the negotiating table for the sake of Venezuelans and seek a peaceful resolution," Mohammed said as she was visiting Spain to promote the United Nations' Agenda for Sustainable Development.

For his part, the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Monday that military intervention no longer has a place in Latin America international politics.

"The time for military interventions in Latin America has passed," Guterres said, adding that the region has a long democratic history "which makes authoritarian regimes no longer have a chance."​​​​​​​

While the US humanitarian “aid” propaganda show ramps up on the Colombian border, I visited a market in El Valle, Caracas where food provided by the government was sold well below market value. This is all taking place amidst an escalating US economic war & threats of invasion.

Since the beginning of the U.S.-backed attempt to destabilize Venezuela, the U.N. has advocated political dialogue as the only possible option. In order to do so, Guterres has even offered his "good offices" to mediate between President Nicolas Maduro administration and the opposition, if they so request.

"It is not easy under the current circumstances. However, through the good offices of the UN Secretary General, we have hope that people speak," Mohammed said and recalled that "there have been attempts to politicize" the humanitarian assistance in Venezuela.

The U.N. diplomat also mentioned her regrets about the loss of life or injuries possible in the situation that took place over the last few days. ​​​​​​

On this issue, the Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez denounced the false "humanitarian aid" that the U.S.-backed opposition intended to forcibly enter Venezuelan territory.

"One more evidence that the false humanitarian aid has nothing of help or humanitarian! It is the century's scam!," she said and announced that "Venezuela will receive support through the UN international cooperation agencies."​​​​​​​

The U.N. Deputy Secretary-General also stressed that the agency is hopeful to see moves in the direction of negotiation.

"There is a need for humanitarian assistance in Venezuela, but it has to be done under the principle that everyone has to be included," she said and added that the U.N. "will continue to work with the Venezuela's government to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches those who need it. The important thing is that the parties sit down at the negotiating table and explore ways to get people the assistance they need."​​​​​​​

The U.N. Security Council has been called to a special session for Tuesday afternoon by the United States as it aims to continue its destabilziation and intervention campaign.
UN: Venezuela's Arreaza Calls US Aims the 'Politics of Death'
 Representatives from the United States, China, and Russia will participate in the international delegation.

26 February 2019

This is the second session of the Security Council held to discuss Venezuela and the United States's push for military intervention.

Following a request from the United States, the United Nations Security Council is holding a session to discuss the state of Venezuela and its internal political situation.

This is the second session of the Security Council held to discuss the political situation in Venezuela following a meeting on Jan. 26 in the U.S.

Representatives from the United States, France, United Kingdom, Russia, China, Poland, Peru, The Dominican Republic, Belgium, South Africa, Kuwait, Germany, Indonesia, and Venezuela spoke to the international delegation.

Despite the position held by some countries opposed to the Venezuelan Government, its representatives have reiterated the rejection of the use of force by U.S. authorities.

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza called the international aggression a threat to Venezuela’s sovereignty and the rights of a free people as well as a violation of the United Nations charter.

“Now is the time for us to return to sanity and respect international law and respect the Venezuelan constitution. We are waiting to see the members of the Venezuelan opposition. Mr. Guaido and whoever else- they will decide who will sit down with the constitutional government of Venezuela, then among Venezuelans, we can build our own solution. Without intervention, interference from anyone, much less the United States," Arreaza said.

The Bolivarian official thanked the members of the Montevideo Mechanism for its support for peaceful dialogue and allowing the country to solve its differences domestically.

“We are prepared to sit down and to come up with solutions with Mr. Guaido and whoever else wishes to sit down with us, but they don’t wish to sit down with us. They say there is no time for dialogue, Mr. Maduro has to go, the regime has to change, there has to be an invasion in Venezuela. But there’s no call in this security council to say, ‘You have to sit down,’” the minister said.

Arreaza asked UN security council members to consider the fact that the United States is threatening to shoot migrants along its southern border and what would happen if Venezuela, Nicaragua, or Cuba- all countries which have been burdened with U.S. intervention- were to intervene, citing a "humanitarian crisis."

"Venezuela is staying out of the internal affairs of the United States and the electoral campaign here... There’s a lot of hypocrisy and arrogance at play here. And this is what the UN security council should address.

“The security council is not here to make war, the Security Council is not here to establish conditions for others to make war, the council is not here to endorse violent breaches of the United Nations Charter, rather the security council is here to maintain international peace and security and to preserve future generations from the scourge of war… let’s save Venezuela and this generation because the threat of war is here today,” Arreaza said.

Arreaza's arguments were supported by a number of countries, among them the Russian representative, who stated that "Washington's sole aim was not resolving the problems of Venezuela, their aim is regime change via foreign intervention."

China also joined in the chorus against intervention by saying that "We oppose using so-called humanitarian aid for political purposes to destabilize Venezuela and the wider region"

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Health Care Crisis: Higher Numbers of Black Mothers Dying Giving Birth
by Angela Brown

African American mothers dying at higher rate during child birth. (WCIV)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — One local doctor is calling it a public health emergency.

Black mothers are dying at higher rates in child birth.

What is the health care crisis that is taking the lives of African American mothers?

The Center for Disease Control says African American women are three to four times more likely to die in child birth than white women.

Dr. Scott Sullivan from MUSC says there are many factors contributing to higher death rates for African American women during childbirth including that African American women are more likely to be in poverty or working poor without great access to nutrition and medical care.

But Dr. Sullivan says more research needs to be done because even African American mothers with higher incomes are also dying at higher rates.

Dr. Sullivan believes racism is a factor.

“Sometimes it’s overt and sometimes unconscious,” says Dr. Sullivan.

African American South Carolina mom Ki’Tara Locklear believes doctors need to listen more to their patients.

She is about to give birth to her second child.

Ki'Tara lost her first baby. She believes her doctor didn't follow through when she got sick during her first pregnancy.

"When you get to the point when you may become high-risk they act like they want to do everything in their power, but you should have listened to me in the beginning when I came to you the first time,” says Locklear.

Sullivan believes more training is needed.

“We have put more attention on our students and our residents to be better listeners to have more empathy and to be more aware of their bias," Sullivan said.

Doctors say other solutions involve getting more mothers insured long before pregnancy and increasing access to maternal care in rural communities.
Beyond Slavery and the Civil Rights Movement: Teachers Should be Integrating Black History into Their Lessons
Analysis: In a month rife with instances of racism, it's clear much of what students learn about black people’s distinct American story is hit-or-miss.

Feb. 26, 2019, 1:38 PM EST
By Melinda D. Anderson
NBC News

This Black History Month has been packed with controversy, with scandals and headlines revolving around blackface dominating the national conversation. But some say the singular focus on blackface distracts from the larger issues — namely, how little is known about the nation’s deeply racist history, and what is — and isn’t — taught about the black American experience in the nation’s public schools.

This month, two of Virginia’s top-elected officials admitted to wearing blackface during their college years. Luxury retailer Gucci pulled a black turtleneck with oversized red lips from its shelves for resembling blackface. And high school students — from Wisconsin to Alabama — came under fire for blackface incidents. The debate brought into focus blackface minstrelsy, the practice of white performers darkening their skin to caricature black people that dates back to the 19th century.

According to experts, teaching an accurate and thorough version of history is essential to breaking down stereotypes and misconceptions. Yet much of what students learn about black people’s distinct American story is hit-or-miss.

“We're teaching Dr. King's 'I Have a Dream' speech from kindergarten. But kids have no idea of the kind of risks he took,” Marika Iyer, an eighth-grade history and humanities teacher, said. “They’re not reading his speeches on Vietnam or learning about the organizing he did in Chicago … the moments when he's not popular.”

Some blame the whitewashing of U.S. history, with Eurocentric viewpoints and biases dominating textbooks, classroom materials and lesson plans.

“The American narrative is structured around a very consistent set of erasures and forgetting,” said Greg E. Carr, chairman of the department of Afro-American studies at Howard University. “You can’t disturb that paradigm without disturbing the fundamental mythmaking of American history.”

Carr cited the link between the history curriculum and society’s values and priorities, with the staunch belief in America's “exceptionalism” drowning out exceptionally difficult historical truths. Another point of contention is how black people as historical actors are commonly presented: as a sidebar to American history, relegated to February, and limited to iconic figures and events — Harriet Tubman, slavery, Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.

What’s more, the racial makeup of the teaching force — about 80 percent of public school teachers are white — is an obstacle, with many educators lacking the knowledge and willingness to teach black history content. Tommy Ender, a postdoctoral fellow in social studies education at Loyola University Maryland, supervises college students preparing to become teachers. Among the difficulties he named are courses in history methods that fail to address black history in teacher preparation, and racial biases and assumptions that prevent some teachers from seeing black history as relevant to their white students’ lives.

Ender said that to overcome these barriers, schools of education and teacher educators must shift the culture of teaching to one that views studying black history as indispensable to all students. Because the status quo is unacceptable, some teachers and scholars say.

Yet, signs of progress are emerging, as a growing number of educators are confronting America’s racial past — combating myths and misrepresentations in the classroom. In East Oakland, California, Iyer helps youngsters at Greenleaf Elementary School make connections between the past and the present by teaching lessons steeped in black history and culture. That includes a recent role-play activity exploring Reconstruction — an oft-overlooked and pivotal chapter in American history following the Civil War when the newly-freed black population gained economic, political and social power.

Additionally, students studied the terms and conditions of sharecropping contracts, the evolution of Black Codes, and primary documents by and about the Ku Klux Klan. One of the cooler aspects, she said, was looking at the propaganda and the political cartoons from the Reconstruction period that actively divided poor white people and free black people.

“The kids made tons of comparisons to the 2016 election, and the rhetoric fermenting divisions between people who are migrants, or who look like immigrants, and working-class white folks,” Iyer, whose class is almost exclusively black and Latino children, said.

Whether she’s teaching the post-Civil War or the post-civil rights era — the Black Panther Party, FBI counterintelligence program COINTELPRO and the killing of activist Fred Hampton — Iyer said closely examining black history puts contemporary injustices in context.

“Looking for the complexities and contradictions expands their lens,” she said, “and offers so many links to their own daily realities.”

Illinois high school history teacher Corey Winchester agrees. He focuses on teaching black history and black experiences not only to challenge dominant narratives, but also as “a vehicle to help white people understand their role in our nation’s collective trauma.”

At Evanston Township High School, Winchester’s honors and AP history classes emphasize unlearning and relearning historical facts. Recently, his students spent two days analyzing the text of the Emancipation Proclamation, correcting the popular misconception that the document freed enslaved black people.

As a black male teacher, he sees his work as disruptive in nature — exposing the history around black identity that often goes untold. “When I first started, it was hard for me to teach about black history, especially in classes with predominantly white students,” he said, referring to pushback he received about centering race. Now in his ninth year, he’s concluded, “You can't talk about U.S. history without talking about race.”

Hilary Green, associate professor of history and co-director of the African-American studies program at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, expressed similar sentiments about the costs of ignoring black history in K-12 classrooms. She is an adviser to the Zinn Education Project “Teach Reconstruction Campaign,” which helps teachers and schools uncover the complex history of the African-American experience.

In her college classes, Green finds misinformation is common among students about black people’s historical battles and successes. Which is why she’s connected her work as a historian to the work of middle- and high-school teachers.

Sharing this often unspoken history is about equipping the next generation of American citizens to apply the lessons of the past to create a better future, she explained.

“African-Americans’ desire to become an educated people laid the foundation for southern state constitutions ensuring public schools as a right of citizenship regardless of race, class or gender,” she said. “Ida B. Wells and other African-American women pushed for anti-lynching legislation and women’s suffrage.”

“The reduction of black history overlooks the actions of ordinary people who struggled, experienced setbacks, and yet achieved extraordinary changes.”
Documentary Showcases Millionaire Woman Who Pioneered African-American Beauty Industry
WBAL Updated: 5:53 PM EST Feb 26, 2019
Barry Simms 

Magazines from the 1930s with pictures of black women and children are among items discovered in a box in a basement that provided Pikesville native and Park School graduate Royston Scott a wealth of family history.

"I found a treasure trove of black-and-white photos and pamphlets," Scott said.

The New York filmmaker had only heard stories about his great aunt Sara Spencer Washington and the company she founded, Apex News and Hair. Now, he had proof and decided to tell her story in a documentary, which he has named "The Sara Spencer Washington Story."

"There were pomades, hair straighteners, hair tonics, perfumes and what not," Scott said.

Washington became a millionaire selling her line of black hair care and beauty products. Her magazine had articles on hair, running a proper beauty salon and tips on grooming and cooking. She also ran beauty colleges in cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, Richmond, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.

"From what I hear, some of the trainees were better than others, but that was part of the learning curve," Scott said.

Washington began her business in 1919 in Atlantic City. Retired New Jersey Judge Nelson Johnson said she was extraordinary and very persuasive.

In Scott's documentary, "The Sara Spencer Washington Story," Johnson said, "A lot of people don't have an appreciation for just how difficult it is to try to sell product door-to-door, because the first thing you have to do is sell is yourself, and then you sell your product."

The business expanded. Washington had hundreds of employees and a warehouse. Her beauty supply and drug stores offered jobs. While the Great Depression wiped out other companies, Apex survived and flourished.

In Scott's documentary, "The Sara Spencer Washington Story," former employee Etta Nelson Francisco said, "One thing she always used to say, 'Be a lady, be a lady.' And I've always tried to be a lady. And I worked in the drug store."

Thousands of people graduated from her schools every year. She helped many of them start their own salons by giving them interest-free loans and discounts on products.

"She was all about empowering the black community, especially women. Education was her main goal," Scott said.

Washington became one of the first African-American female millionaires. She died in 1953 at the age of 64. The company she built declined by the 1960s.

Scott believes Apex was a victim of its own success. He said major, white-owned companies took notice of the lucrative black hair care and cosmetics market and began mass marketing their own products.

"It was the black power movement and hairstyles changed, everyone was going natural, so people weren't into relaxing their hair, straightening their hair, curling their hair," Scott said.

Scott said the items he found in that box led him on a wonderful journey into his family's legacy, and are important in African-American and U.S. history.

Scott shares his documentary March 7 at the Pikesville Library.
Tennessee Republican Says He Wants to 'Honor the African-American Slave Experience'
Joel Ebert, Nashville
4:26 p.m. CT Feb. 26, 2019

A freshman Republican state lawmaker said Tuesday he is seeking to "honor the African-American slave experience" with a resolution he introduced related to the 14th Amendment.

During an informal gathering of the House Public Service and Employees Subcommittee, Rep. Bruce Griffey, R-Paris, explained that his resolution was aimed at having the country address birthright citizenship.

Birthright citizenship is the aspect of federal law under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that grants citizenship to anybody born on U.S. soil. Last year, President Donald Trump said he wanted to end birthright citizenship through an executive order.

Griffey's resolution seeks to commend the president for his "leadership and foresight" regarding the 14th Amendment.

"I want to honor the African-American slave experience," he said. "I don't want to take away from it."

Griffey's comments came after Rep. Harold Love, D-Nashville, explained the need for the 14th Amendment, which ensured equality for all people born or naturalized in the United States.

Prior to the amendment's adoption, Love said African-Americans were not deemed "full people."

"All because one part of the country didn't want another part of the country to have more votes in Congress," he said. "If you declare persons who were kidnapped from one continent and brought up here as full people, then the Southern states may have more votes in Congress in the House chamber."

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Love said he couldn't support Griffey's resolution because of the history behind getting the 14th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution.

He also pointed to landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions as evidence of the efforts for equal rights and push back made after slavery ended.

The nation adopted the 14th Amendment in 1868 in the aftermath of the Civil War. The amendment states: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

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After listening to Love's remarks, Griffey said, "To me, the resolution in fact, in my opinion, honors more of the African American slave condition and the injustice that they were — had to suffer through before they got citizenship."

None of the lawmakers or staff members present for the informal meeting directly responded to Griffey's remarks.

After the meeting ended, in an interview with the USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee, Griffey denied making his comments about the "slave experience."

"I don't think that's what I said. I wasn't trying — my comment was, I don't want to take away from that. We certainly want to honor the African-American experience," he said.

Griffey, who earlier this year introduced a bill to help fund Trump's proposed wall along the Southern border, said his ultimate goal is to force a discussion in America about who should be a citizen.

Inside the informal committee meeting — also known as a pre-meeting or bill review — two Republicans and a Democrat expressed their concern about the resolution.

Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Bolivar, said he could not support Griffey's resolution while Rep. Kelly Keisling, R-Byrdstown, said he was on the fence and didn't want his colleague to take it personally.

Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, pointed to the final paragraph of the resolution as "very expansive."

The resolution "honors, commends and solutes the initiative of the President of the United States, the Honorable Donald J. Trump, to protect the citizens of the United States, to protect the borders of our great nation, and to end the illegitimate, unauthorized, and illegal practice of bestowing citizenship to those born within the boundaries of our great country whose presence constitutes a violation of United States law and breach of the sovereignty of this Nation."

Pre-meetings are a weekly occurrence for several House committees and are held prior to legislative meetings in effort to hear from lawmakers, staff members and other interested parties about bills.

Unlike committee meetings, pre-meetings are not recorded or livestreamed for the public, which can only find out about their location and time by accessing a page on the legislature's website.

Want to read more stories like this? A subscription to one of our Tennessee publications gets you unlimited access to all the latest politics news, podcasts like Grand Divisions, plus newsletters, a personalized mobile experience and the ability to tap into stories, photos and videos from throughout the USA TODAY Network's 109 local sites.

Reach Joel Ebert at or 615-772-1681 and on Twitter @joelebert29.
Thousands of Allegations of Sexual Misconduct Toward Migrant Children Reported
The documents show more than 4,550 allegations were reported to the Office of Refugee Resettlement between fiscal years 2015 and 2018.

Feb. 26, 2019, 3:37 PM EST
By Daniella Silva
NBC News

Thousands of allegations that migrant children in U.S. custody were subjected to sexual abuse, harassment or inappropriate sexual conduct were reported over a four-year span to the government agency tasked with overseeing their care, according to documents released Tuesday by a Democratic lawmaker.

The documents, provided by the office of Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida, show more than 4,550 allegations were reported to the Office of Refugee Resettlement between fiscal years 2015 and 2018. That agency, which prepared the documents, oversees the care of unaccompanied and separated migrant children and is a part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

During the same period, about 1,300 sexual abuse allegations were reported to the Department of Justice, according to the documents. Nearly 180 involved allegations of staff committing sexual abuse against migrant children at government-run shelters. The documents were first reported by Axios.

Deutch said Tuesday during a House hearing on migrant family separations that he was “deeply concerned” about the “high number” of allegations of sexual assaults on migrant children in government custody.

“These documents detail an environment of systemic sexual assaults by staff on unaccompanied children,” he said.

He added the records show there have been 154 allegations of sexual assault by staff on unaccompanied migrant children in facilities under U.S. custody in the past three years, appearing to refer to the numbers from fiscal years 2016 to 2018.

Deutch said that amounted to an average of “one sexual assault by HHS staff on an unaccompanied minor per week.” He then asked if concerns about migrant children being potentially exposed to sexual abuse factored into discussions about migrant family separations.

The comment drew an intense response from Cmdr. Jonathan White, a career staffer with Health and Human Services who led the department’s efforts to reunite migrant children with their families after the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.

“Let me first correct an error, those are not HHS staff in any of those allegations. That statement is false,” White said.

The government contracts nonprofit and private companies to operate shelters where migrant children are held before they are released to a sponsor, usually a parent or close relative already in the country.

Caitlin B. Oakley, an HHS spokeswoman, said in a statement to NBC News that the safety of children in its care “is our top concern.”

“Each of our grantees running standard shelters is licensed by the respective state for child care services,” she said, adding that in addition to “rigorous standards” put in place by the government, “background checks of all facility employees are mandatory.”

“These are vulnerable children in difficult circumstances, and ORR fully understands its responsibility to ensure that each child is treated with the utmost care,” she added, referring to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. “When any allegations of abuse, sexual abuse or neglect are made, they are taken seriously and ORR acts swiftly to investigate and respond."

During a contentious back and forth, Deutch tried to interrupt White, who added, “You are speaking of allegations of sexual abuse against members of my team.”

“I saw thousands of cases of sexual abuse if not by HHS staff then by the people that HHS staff oversees, I will make that clarification. It doesn’t make what happened any less horrific,” Deutch responded.

White said the 154 cases Deutch was referring to were allegations and not confirmed reports of sexual assaults, adding, “This is a longer conversation.”

“In every conversation that we had about separation, we opposed separation,” White added.

White previously told a House subcommittee that the agency tasked with caring for unaccompanied migrant children would never "have supported" family separations at the border.

Daniella Silva is a reporter for NBC News, specializing in immigration and inclusion issues.
House Votes to Block Trump’s National Emergency Declaration About the Border
Before a vote on a resolution to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency, Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked House Republicans if they took their oath from Mr. Trump or “the Constitution of the United States?” The measure passed and goes to the Senate.CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

By Emily Cochrane
New York Times
Feb. 26, 2019

WASHINGTON — The House voted on Tuesday to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the Mexican border, with just 13 Republicans joining Democrats to try to block his effort to divert funding to a border wall without congressional approval.

House Republican leaders kept defections low after feverishly working to assuage concerns among rank-and-file members about protecting congressional powers and about the precedent that Mr. Trump could be setting for Democratic presidents to use for their own purposes.

“Is your oath of office to Donald Trump or is it to the Constitution of the United States?” Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked her Republican colleagues in a speech on the floor ahead of the vote. “You cannot let him undermine your pledge to the Constitution.”

The resolution of disapproval, which passed 245 to 182, must now be taken up by the Senate, where three Republicans have already declared their support, only one short of the number needed for Congress to ratify a stinging rebuke of Mr. Trump’s efforts.

It remains highly unlikely that opponents will muster the votes to overturn a promised veto of the resolution. But final passage of a measure to assert Congress’s constitutional authority over spending is sure to bolster numerous lawsuits that maintain that Mr. Trump’s declaration is an unconstitutional end run around Congress’s lawful power of the purse.

Many of the 13 Republicans who defected in the House were adamant in their arguments. Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a veteran lawmaker who once helped manage Republican efforts to remove Bill Clinton from the White House, made it clear he supported the border wall.

But, he said, “insufficient action — however frustrating it may be — is still the prerogative of the legislative branch. It is imperative that no administration, Republican or Democratic, circumvent the will of Congress.”

In the Senate, where lawmakers are required to vote on the resolution in the coming weeks, those concerns persisted. Even Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader and an open supporter of the declaration, declined to offer his opinion on the legal merits.

“We’re in the process of weighing that,” Mr. McConnell said when asked at a news conference on Tuesday. “I haven’t reached a total conclusion.”

More than a dozen Republicans voted with Democrats to block President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the United States border with Mexico.

Three Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have said that they will support the resolution, and several others have expressed extreme unease. Vice President Mike Pence and a Justice Department lawyer joined Republican senators on Tuesday for a lunch on Capitol Hill to outline what they maintained was the president’s statutory authority for the declaration and need for additional money.

Mr. Pence faced some frustration from senators about Mr. Trump’s decision to make the declaration and the legal grounds for doing so, particularly from Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, according to three people familiar with the exchange who asked for anonymity to describe a private meeting.

When Mr. Paul argued that Mr. Pence, a former representative, would have opposed Mr. Trump’s use of an emergency declaration and compared it to President Barack Obama’s use of an executive order to establish protections for young undocumented immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Mr. Pence objected, according to one person. He argued that there was a difference between the two uses of executive power, according to two people.

A spokesman for Mr. Paul said that the senator had raised concerns, along with other senators, about the declaration in an exchange, but did not raise the comparison to DACA.

Mr. McConnell acknowledged that there had been “a fulsome discussion” during the meeting, and Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a close ally of the president, said he hoped that as a result of the discussion, “we will prevail.”

But some senators emerged from the lunch still reluctant to say how they would vote.

“Any action by the administration must comply with federal law, so I am reviewing and assessing the specific legal authorities and justifications put forth by the administration,” said Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas. “I am very worried about the slippery slope that could occur.”

Some Republican lawmakers and aides said they were unconcerned because they were confident that they could prevent the two-thirds majority needed in both chambers to override a presidential veto, possibly the first delivered by Mr. Trump.

“There will be nowhere near the votes to override a veto,” Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the Republican whip, said Tuesday morning at a news conference. “Ultimately, we’re going to stand with the president in making sure we can secure this border.”

The resolution of disapproval, under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, serves as the easiest mechanism for Congress to end Mr. Trump’s declaration. House Democrats are still weighing the possibility of joining one of the lawsuits that have been filed to challenge the merits of the declaration.

Democrats, who overwhelmingly endorsed the resolution of disapproval, framed the vote as an ultimatum on whether lawmakers would buck party loyalty in order to protect Congress’s constitutionally granted powers. Ms. Pelosi, in a floor speech on Tuesday, listed a number of instances in which House Republicans had objected to Mr. Obama’s use of executive power, vowing that “we are not going to give any president, Democratic or Republican, a blank check to shred the Constitution of the United States.”

Representative Joaquin Castro called the vote on the one-page resolution “the most important vote, probably in a generation, on the separation of powers.”

Mr. Castro, Democrat of Texas and the author of the resolution, warned Republicans that if the president’s declaration went unchallenged, the issue would resurface.

“If Congress lets this stand, if the courts let it stand, how am I to tell a future president that gun deaths that number in the tens of thousands every year in this country, or opioid deaths that number in the thousands in this country, are not an emergency?” Mr. Castro said in a brief interview. “Or climate change is not a national emergency?”

“If this becomes a short circuit to get other things done,” he added, “then how is a president not expected to use that tool in the future?”

The debate over the merits of Mr. Trump’s national emergency declaration has led some lawmakers to suggest that Congress should re-evaluate how much power it has shifted to the executive branch and the scope of the National Emergencies Act.

“The larger issue is Congress has delegated its authority to the White House in hundreds of instances,” said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas. “I think we need to have a bigger conversation about the separation of powers and whether we want to continue to delegate all this authority to the next president.”

Overruling concerns from other Republicans, Mr. Trump this month outlined his intent to use $3.6 billion from military construction projects to build his promised wall along the southwestern border. In the lunch with Mr. Pence and the Justice Department lawyer, Republican senators secured a promise that they would be notified about details of which military construction projects would be affected before they voted on the resolution, according to two people familiar with the discussion.

Mr. Pence also assured senators that any money diverted from projects would most likely be replaced in the next year’s funding allocation, according to one person familiar with the discussion. While Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, later told reporters that he was confident that effort would be successful, Democratic appropriators would most likely object.

House Democrats also pressed the Defense Department on Tuesday to release those details to Congress.

“We fear that reprogramming funding intended for military construction projects and counterdrug activities will come at the expense of troop readiness and departmentwide efforts to address the military’s aging infrastructure,” wrote Representatives John Garamendi, Democrat of California, and Doug Lamborn, Republican of Colorado, both members of the House Armed Services Committee.

Members of the House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday to examine the effect of the declaration on military construction and readiness, and members of the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday in part to examine Mr. Trump’s use of powers under the National Emergencies Act.

“The Congress of the United States needs to have a spine, and not lay at the feet of the president,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader. “That’s not what the people elected us to do.”

Catie Edmondson and Annie Karni contributed reporting.
Hanoi ‘Willing to Share’ Experience with DPRK
By Xie Wenting and Bai Yunyi
Global Times
2019/2/25 21:08:39

Vietnam path can be learned by Pyongyang: former official

A woman checks out a T-shirts with images of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump at a store in Hanoi, Vietnam on Monday. Photo: VCG

North Korea has the capability to follow the "Vietnam development path," and the country even has a better base and conditions in some respects than Vietnam when it launched "Doi Moi" economic reform, Nguyen Vinh Quang, a former official responsible for China and Northeast Asia affairs at the international department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam, told the Global Times.

As Hanoi is preparing for the second summit between US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Wednesday and Thursday, many people are gauging on the possibility that whether Pyongyang will emulate Vietnam's model of development as the two countries share many similarities.

Quang told the Global Times in an exclusive interview that Vietnam is willing to provide its own innovation experiences in economic reform, inner-party democratic construction as well as improvement of foreign relations with North Korea.

He noted that today's North Korea shares lots of similarities with Vietnam of the past. Both countries have experienced separation between the north and the south, such as development plight caused by outdated economic model and pressure from international society.

Once the nuclear issue gets resolved and international sanctions are relieved and the future of the regime of North Korea is guaranteed, the Vietnam path can be learned by North Korea in the long run, Quang said.

In terms of the Vietnam-US relations that have changed from "foes to friends," the former official noted that it can serve as an "example" from which North Korea can learn. "Based on the current information, I think North Korea-US relations are nearing this path," he said.

While North Korea once had doubts about Vietnam's "Doi Moi" reform, this view is gradually changing and their attitudes toward Vietnam's economic reform is becoming more positive. "When I communicated with North Koreans, I found that they were paying close attention to the governance and development experiences of Vietnam and China," Quang said.

Relations between North Korea and Vietnam have experienced ups and downs over the past half century. Bilateral relations didn't warm until the beginning of this century. Despite the changes in international society, Quang said that bilateral relations between the two countries have maintained favorable development.

Compared with China-Vietnam relations that inevitably face twists due to complicated historical reasons, the problems between Vietnam and North Korea aren't very serious and are comparatively easy to resolve, he added.

But problems still remain. As North Korea still faces UN sanctions, Vietnam needs to carry out the UN resolutions, thus leading to difficulties in accomplishing practical cooperation, he pointed out.

Quang looks forward to the settlement of the nuclear crisis in the Korean Peninsula and the national development policy that North Korea will launch. "At that time, Vietnam-North Korea relations as well as China-North Korea relations can realize better development. I'm optimistic of it," he said. 
Emerging Markets Reject US Global Crackdown on Huawei
By Chen Qingqing
Global Times
2019/2/26 11:38:39

Although the US global offensive against Huawei will not affect the choice of developing countries in Africa, the campaign to block participation by the Chinese company in 5G development will hurt the interests of emerging markets, industry representatives told the Global Times on Monday.

On the first day of the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the annual telecoms industry gathering in Barcelona, Spain, Huawei's main exhibition hall was full of attendees from not only European countries but also developing nations such as Malawi, Zambia and Angola.

Danny Luswili, board chairperson of Zamtel, also known as Zambia Telecommunications Co, spent his time learning more about the newest 5G customer premises equipment (CPE) unveiled by Huawei at the event. "We see they're already advanced in the ICT industry … and they're bringing a lot of things to Zambia," he said, noting that the Chinese company has been playing a significant role in building 4G networks in the local market and providing cloud services to the government.

Telecoms carriers are not willing to invest heavily in remote areas, as costs of building networks are usually high with low investment returns. But this is not the case for Huawei, which has been exploring developing markets for years by offering low-cost solutions.

For instance, in a rural area in Kenya, Huawei launched a solution in 2017 that combines innovations in both technology and tower design, and helped 500 people get connected for the first time. Total operation costs of the project are also more than 50 percent lower compared to traditional sites.

Zamtel has been working with Huawei for about four years. Luswill told the Global Times that "there's no doubt" the Chinese firm will lead in 5G.

While the US government has been lobbying against Huawei by citing security concerns, African representatives believe it is not an issue for them.

"We don't have any concerns about their products that they offer to us," the Zambian businessman said.

Still, emerging markets are paying attention to the US-led crackdown on Huawei.

When Malawi authorities hear a superpower like the US is worried about Huawei, they wonder what "the Americans are seeing that we can't see," Henry Mussa, Minister of Information and Communications Technology of Malawi, told the Global Times.

"We'd like to believe that there's nothing to worry about," he said.

Locking out Huawei, the largest telecoms equipment provider worldwide, from 5G deployments will also deprive emerging markets from developing the next generation of wireless technologies, as fewer players in the market will drive up the costs, which will become unaffordable for those markets, industry representatives said. 
Tariff May be Temporary But Dispute is Not
Global Times
2019/2/25 18:43:39

After several rounds of talks, the US and China seem to be heading toward a deal over the thorny issue of tariffs. US President Donald Trump said Monday that he will hold a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping to conclude an agreement to end the year-long standoff. What does it mean? How will bilateral relations develop in the future? Three experts shared their views with the Global Times.

Liu Weidong, research fellow at the Institute of American Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

I think this is only an extension of the trade truce without any specific conclusion. It is not time yet to be overly optimistic.

China-US ties have not yet ridden out the storm. The tension between them has even not reached the climax. Bilateral relations will only head toward a more difficult path. Because in addition to trade relations, there are many issues plaguing China-US ties.

Anti-China sentiment has risen in the US, making Washington challenge Beijing from time to time in various areas. After the US midterm elections in November last year, Democrats have won control of the House of Representatives. That means future US China policy will highly likely become tougher.

Relations between Beijing and Washington are currently in a churn. The turn they will take is uncertain. The main reason is that the US, seeking a change in its China policy, wants to be tougher on China. There is a consensus in the US about raising the heat on Beijing. But in what way? Americans are still discussing it. We will likely see a more specific summing-up in the coming years.

It does not mean that China has no chance of contributing to the development of ties with US. It depends on how the Chinese government treats the conflict with Washington. If we regard the trade war only as a way of US to contain China, we will feel dispirited. But if we could realize the need for China to become more resilient, it will not only give itself a brighter future, but also help China confront the US more confidently. That would be one positive consequence of the trade dispute.

Wang Peng, associate research fellow at Chongyang Financial Institute, Renmin University of China

The negotiations have resulted in a win-win outcome for China and the US. The delay in imposing tariffs shows that the two sides are managing policy disputes and diplomatic crisis to prevent them from getting out of control.

In a sluggish global economy, uncertainties have been brought about by a number of international issues, such as Brexit, the failure of APEC forum to issue a joint statement and unrest in Latin America.

The favorable outcome of the trade talks indicates that the two countries, as responsible major powers, are acting as role models to enhance bilateral ties and boost confidence in the global economy.

But it is worth noting that this is only a temporary achievement. Tariffs have only been delayed, not canceled.

However, it implies that China and the US will face tougher competition in the near future.

Li Haidong, professor at the Institute of International Relations, China Foreign Affairs University

This is a positive result, which shows negotiations between China and the US have worked. But it is only a temporary relief.

In the years to come, trade friction between China and US will be regular. Both sides need to find an effective, reasonable, and acceptable high-level mechanism with clear agenda to manage major issues in bilateral ties.

Once the mechanism is in place, the two countries will find it easier to bridge differences. The process could be full of twists and turns, but joint efforts by Beijing and Washington should not cease.

China and the US will go through a period of difficult engagement. Their forthcoming clashes will be more severe and involve deep-seated problems. But after the storm has blown over, multi-faceted cooperation between the two will follow.
Ridiculous for Foreign Media to Compare China, Venezuela
By Li Qingqing
Global Times
2019/2/25 19:43:39

The New York Times released an article headlined "China's entrepreneurs are wary of its future" on Saturday. The opinionated article used the story of Chen Tianyong, a Chinese real estate developer who chose to leave China, to declare that China's economic environment is "tightly controlled." According to the Times reporter, some businesspeople are comparing China's future to that of Venezuela "where the government seized control of the economy and didn't ease up."

It is ridiculous to compare China with Venezuela. Venezuela is too dependent on oil, and is now in economic crisis and political turmoil. Can't the Western media recognize the difference between the two countries?

The Western media do not understand China. They have no idea how China accomplished today's achievement after 40 years of reform and opening-up. How can Western media always make such irresponsible remarks on China's economy and system? In the 21st century, it is a shame that Western people still view China in such an obsolete way. Instead of trying to observe China more objectively, they narrow-mindedly stick to their own ideology. Many Chinese people are confused: Why are some Western countries so stubborn in distorting facts and blackening China?

Because some Western media's always tend to smear or even subvert China's political system. Take Chen Tianyong's story. With ulterior motives, the New York Times tells stories of certain Chinese individuals and then exaggerates the fact, thus declaring that there are serious problems in China's economy and political system. This is their consistent practice and some foreign people who do not understand China will fall into the Western media's trap. Chinese people always need to be on the alert for such ill-intentioned articles.

The article has attracted much attention. Many Western scholars agreed with it on Twitter. But there are also many articles that tell people how China successfully resolved its economic problems. Some Western media are selectively deaf, intentionally choosing to misread China. This has led to many wrong judgments and predictions about China.

But one thing is true: Some Chinese entrepreneurs do have concerns about China's future economy. They are worried about China's GDP in 2018 - the lowest annual growth rate since 1990 - and they are afraid of China's downward economic pressure.

However, all these concerns are because China is now undergoing a great economic transition. There are indeed some problems with China's current economy. But if the Western media put these problems all together and exaggerate them, the problems will make the reader feel like China's economy is breaking down. To objectively analyze the whole picture, people shouldn't ignore China's economic transition. These problems will be gradually resolved as the Chinese economy develops steadily. Don't all countries need to go through economic downturns and upturns? People cannot correctly understand China's situation if they see only a part of the problems.

The most important thing is that Chinese entrepreneurs need to seize the opportunity. Compared with other countries, China provides more opportunities for private enterprises. China will open its door wider and optimize its business environment and this explains the continued influx of foreign investment into China.
86% Votes For New Constitution in Cuba
Cuba's President Miguel Diaz-Canel casts his vote during the referendum to approve the constitutional reform in Havana, Cuba, Feb. 24, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

25 February 2019

86.86 percent of voters ratified the new Cuban constitution while only 7.6 percent voted no during the referendum.

Cuba's referendum on the New Constitution was announced Monday through a press conference. According to preliminary results, 85.86 percent voted yes for the new constitution.

The vote took place Sunday in the country where around  84.1 percent of the electorate exercised their right to vote.

According to the result, 7,522,569 people voted Sunday i.e, 73.31 percent of the total electorate and 84.41 percent of the accepted votes. Out of this. 198,674 votes i.e., 2.53 percent were blank votes, and 127,100 votes i.e., 1.62 percent votes were canceled.

The result showed that 6,816,169 voters voted in favor of the Constitution which represents 73.31 percent of the total voter pool but 86.85 percent of the updated list after counting out blank votes and canceled votes.

"The new Constitution of the #Cuba Republic has been ratified with 86.85% of the voters who went to the polls."

706,400 voted no which represents only 7.6 percent of the total number of voters and nine percent in relation to the updated list.

Cuban embassies around the world opened their votes on Feb. 15 to decide on the island's new constitution. Voting stations were open in Cuban consular offices in 130 countries until Feb. 17 in a process that was declared to be successful by the Special Electoral Commission of the Foreign Ministry.

During the vote, unlike in other countries, no police or military had been deployed and all the responsibilities were given to students.

The Republic's new constitution would modernize the current one, which was approved in 1976. Almost 9 million people built the new text through a participatory process in which some 780,000 suggestions and 9,600 proposals were analyzed through 133,000 citizen meetings held between Aug. 13 and Nov. 15, 2018.

The final draft of this new Constitution, which includes 229 articles, was approved by the Cuban National Assembly on Dec. 22, 2018, after three months of public forums where all citizens were invited to contribute to the final document.
Former Ecuadorean Leader Rips Current Administration As 'Toxic'
Former Ecuadorean President comments on the current political situation in Ecuador on his Enlace Digital online show.

25 February 2019

Ecuador is making right-ward movements, looking for IMF loans, that could mean impending hardship for the Ecuadorean people.

Former Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa denounces the current administration of Lenin Moreno as “toxic” and warns that he’ll return to Ecuador if required to run as member of the National Assembly or as a vice-presidential candidate.

The former head of state currently lives in Belgium and hosts his own online program called Enlace Digital in which he makes commententary on world issues and Ecuadorean politics. His 9th show was dedicated to what he calls the “betrayal” of the Moreno government and its failure in avoiding “elite control of the country for the next 30 years” as Ecuador moves further toward embracing the neoliberal policies that culminated in its economic collapse of 1998-1999.

He appealed to the "people to take out the government which has only betrayed them" calling on the current president to issues a "muerte cruzada," a term referring to the power of the executive to dissolve the government and call for new elections.

On Feb. 20, Ecuador’s General Secretary of Communications issued a statement, signed by President Lenin Moreno, confirming the signing of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for USD$4.2 billion.

Social groups fear this means the beginning of the Moreno government’s move towards damaging neoliberal reforms. The agreement signed by the IMF was a “Staff Level Agreement,” which means that the USD$4.2 billion loan will only be granted to cash-strapped Ecuador if it complies with certain conditions first.

These conditions are likely to mean austerity for the Ecuadorean people, however no announcements have been made thus far on what these measures will look like. The relative experience of other Latin American countries, like Argentina, provides a hint at what may occur.

Argentine social movements have called attention to the fact that the recent IMF bailout agreed to in their country has, in fact, worsened the economic situation. Several demonstrations have already happened in Argentina to protest the IMF-backed austerity economic measures implemented by the government of President Mauricio Macri.

The inflation rate for Argentina from January 2019 vs January 2018 was at 49% making life extremely difficult for poor and middle class Argentines.

Despite these warnings, Ecuador is moving forward with these agreements.

Correa was president of Ecuador from 2007 to 2017 and was responsible for the country’s “pink tide” movement to left-wing policies which saw poverty decrease by 14% and an annual GDP growth of 1.5%
Chile’s Communist Party Rejects Intervention in Venezuela
 The Communist Party of Chile reiterated their support for Venezuela against Western interventions.

25 February 2019

The Communist Party of Chile reiterated its support for peaceful dialogue regarding Venezuela and rejected interventionist agendas by the West.

The Communist Party of Chile (PC) Monday reiterated its opposition to interference in the internal affairs of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela by interventionists countries like the United States. It also spoke for a solution based on political dialogue.

Guillermo Teillier, the President of the Chilean Communist Party said that the organization’s position on Venezuela is "unalterable" and it will continue to favor a solution based on dialogue and will reject all confrontation.

His comments came after Saturday’s violence at the Venezuela-Columbia bridge border.

According to witnesses, violent right-wing opposition members torched the  "humanitarian aid" trucks with Molotov cocktails and then tried to incriminate the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) and the Bolivarian National Police (PNB). teleSUR's Madelein Garcia reported that the trucks were supposedly trying to enter Venezuela, but were then burned on the part of the bridge that belongs to Colombia.

Teillier condemned the self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaido’s constant seeking of foreign intervention in Venezuela. He also criticized the Chilean government’s support of the confrontations and the presence of Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera at the Colombia-Venezuela border.

To create an environment of dialogue, the United States’ sanction and the threats of armed intervention in a sovereign country must be stopped immediately according to the President of PC.

Teillier stressed that both the United Nations and the International Red Cross refused to be part of the delivery of so-called “humanitarian aid” and pointed out that if anyone really wants to help the Venezuelan people should do so through the internationally recognized bodies. 

Teillier warned that issues related to Venezuela have helped to cover the problems that the Chilean government is presented with internally. 

The president criticized what happened Saturday in front of the Venezuelan embassy in Santiago when groups expressing their solidarity with the government of Nicolas Maduro were rebuked by presumed Venezuelan immigrants who made fun of the thousands of Chileans killed and disappeared by the Pinochet dictatorship. 

He denounced that among the participants in this kind of counter-demonstration, there were some who were identified and recognized as members of the Independent Democratic Union (UDI), a far-right Chilean party.