International News

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Israel to Deport African Migrants but Won’t Say to Where

Israel to Deport African Migrants  but Won’t Say to WhereBy Israeli Jail

Special to the NNPA from

The New York Amsterdam News

Eritrean or Sudanese people, who have sought asylum in Israel.

Israel is reportedly in talks with two other countries to secure a similar agreement.

Few other details of the transfer were available. Israeli Army Radio reported that the unnamed country was in east Africa and did not suffer from any unrest that would harm the migrants.

The Haaretz newspaper said that Israel had agreed to provide agricultural expertise as part of the deal.

The Supreme Court has ordered the government to provide details of the arrangement, including the name of the African country, within seven days.

Or Kashti, an analyst writing for Haaretz, condemned the deal. “As if it were an export company, the State of Israel is trying to ship tens of thousands of people from Eritrea and Sudan to other countries, out of sight and out of mind.

“The main thing is that they will fly away from here. Price isn’t particularly important, nor is their fate in their new countries. Israeli imperviousness, the turning away from the distress of others, marks a new stage that is far from surprising.

“This is a natural progression from the systematic disregard for claims of asylum that were filed to the embarrassing legal amendment that enabled the detainment in prison facilities and incitement bordering on dehumanization. What is being discussed aren’t humans, but objects.”

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Palestinian Culture Identity

By Leila Diab

Palestine has been in existence from time immemorial. The Palestinian people have endured under foreign occupation for centuries and presently, for 65 years, have undergone many blatant and illegal violations of their basic human rights:

Among them are the holistic confiscation of their homeland and walled in from their towns and villages for endless miles and miles under an Israeli military occupation.

History, the true authentic history of Palestine and its freedom fighters are the centuries old roots of the olive trees of life that will never be cut down.

May 15 was Palestine Day and was a day to celebrate the Palestinians’  authentic  will of existence, resistance and their zestful and steadfast revolution for life.

Looking back in time, the Palestinian people's perseverance of countless foreign invasions have included:

The Persian invasion in 538 B.C;

The Greek invasion by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C.;

The Roman invasion in 64 B.C.;

The war of the Crusades in 1099 A.D and 1187 A.D.;

The Ottomans’ 400 years of rule;

The British Mandate from 1920-1948 and thus began one of the most demonic, immoral and barbarous epic of 65 years of escalation in the  Zionist imperial aggression in human tragedy of mistrust, the myths of truth, foreign territorial claims and the betrayal of Palestinians in their homeland.

On Palestine day, as well as everyday of the year, Palestinians from every corner of the world and in every refugee camp filled with hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in occupied Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria continue to carry with them the deeds and keys to their homes for generation after generation in occupied Palestine hoping for the right to return to their homeland in Palestine.

Yet, Palestinians remain an invincible people with the courage and steadfast will to obtain freedom in their dire quest for a peaceful, non violent resolution to this moral media and world blackout or blackmail of their human existence and the continued siege of their territorial homeland.

And isn't it ironic that Palestinians accepted European Jews as their neighbor to Palestine under the edict of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine which was granted to the United Kingdom in 1922, albeit with the incorporation of the Balfour Declaration of 1917?

Parenthetically, in the decade after the establishment of the British Mandate over Palestine, Jewish immigration to Palestine began to increase from less than 10 percent to over 17 percent of the Palestinian population.

The Jewish people then became their neighbors in the promised land of the Palestinian homeland. And thus the spiraling images of past Jewish victims of inhumanity to man are now the victimizers of Palestinians in today's saga of injustices in Palestine.

On Palestine Day, freedom fighters like Abu Jihad, Yasser Arafat, Dalal Magrabi, the women, men and children of Palestine and many, many others who are known and unknown will be remembered for their honorable sacrifices and struggles, in life and in death, for the right to return to their homeland, a passport and a Palestinian National flag to raise over Jerusalem, the city of peace.

Does it matter if Palestinians have postage stamps and coins dating back from 1865-1981? Does it matter if this important facet of the most popular traditional Palestinian art-form is embroidery and that every region or village in Palestine has a distinctive Palestinian embroidered motif – whether it be a tablecloth or a dress?

Does it matter that Islam and Christianity spread their cultures and traditions, whether it be in churches, mosques, schools or women centers?

Does it matter that Palestinians are living under the longest occupation in history?  Does it matter when Palestinians from the past, present and future relate their own stories and their own history?

Does it matter when people from all professionals of life are ostracized from their work for not keeping silent and advocating the truth of the Palestinian dilemma?

And does it matter to whom Palestine belongs?

In the course of Palestine's long history then and now, yes it matters, that everything is a valid obsession of the reality of truth, one's authentic cultural existence and identity, and not in the distortions of myths.

More importantly, what matters the most for Palestinians is to be acknowledged throughout the world as people with a country called Palestine, who value their cultural existence and identity.

Being a Palestinian is not a catastrophe. However, in the last 65 years of an Israeli military government occupation of Palestine, that is the inexcusable and immoral human catastrophe.

“How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty?”

(Bertrand Russell). And this is the question that needs to be answered by all of us on Palestine Day.

“Every Palestinian generation that is scattered through out the world or displaced should possess a Palestinian passport for life this Palestine Day,” decried an anonymous Palestinian activist.  That is Palestine Day sealed with documentation of existence for a lifetime.

And just like the olive trees that are thousands of years old, our entrenched Palestinian roots, are still alive.

This Palestine Day, I paid special tribute to all Palestinians who courageously struggled for freedom and their universal right to return to their homeland, Palestine.

 

 

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Jesse James Zuma

By George E. Curry

NNPA Editor-in-Chief

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (NNPA) – When international icon and former political prisoner Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa in 1994, it marked a watershed moment for the former minority-ruled country.

Mandela, the standard bearer for the African National Congress, won with 62.6 percent of the vote. The ANC captured 252 of the 500 seats in parliament and at the regional level, the ANC took control of seven of the nine provincial governments.

“I was 20 when apartheid ended,” said Nelson Nkrsi, who owns a transportation firm here that caters to tourists.

“There was so much excitement. We all sat down and thought, ‘Wow! Apartheid has ended, Nelson Mandela is free. We’re all going to be living in the suburbs. We’re all going to be driving really nice cars.’ It was a dream we all had.”

It was a dream deferred, if not erased. Today, 19 years later, the ANC – the major anti-apartheid group representing the 80 percent Black majority – is still winning elections, but by increasingly smaller margins.

Moreover, even some staunch ANC backers are openly questioning whether the group that brought about the fall of apartheid is up to the task of governing successfully.

In an interview earlier this month with the Mail & Guardian, retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: “I’m not a card-carrying member of any political party. I have over the years voted for the ANC, but I would very sadly not be able to vote for them after the way things have gone.”

Tutu explained, “We really need a change. The ANC was very good at leading us in the struggle to be free from oppression. They were a good freedom-fighting unit. But it doesn’t seem to me now that a freedom-fighting unit can easily make the transition to becoming a political party.”

South Africa, nearly twice the size of Texas, has a population of 48.6 million. Blacks or Africans make up 79 percent of the population followed by Whites (9.6 percent), Colored ( 8.9 percent), and Indian/Asian (2.5 percent).

But the euphoria of the Mandela years in the public has faded.

Kenneth Walker, a former White House correspondent for ABC News who now lives in Johannesburg, said much of the disappointment with President Jacob Zuma can be traced to the negotiations that led to a peaceful transition from White minority-rule to a democracy.

During the transition, Whites – representing only 16 percent of the population – had disproportionate representation in government and were not forced to make the kind of land concessions White farmers experienced in Zimbabwe.

“The ANC cut a bad deal,” Walker said. “When the farm seizures started in Zimbabwe, I asked President Mugabe why was it that in the African countries that used to be colonies, Africans controlled the governments, but the economies were still largely controlled by Whites.

“He said, ‘We thought once we got the government, everything else would follow. We were wrong.’ By the time the ANC cut its deal, this model was well known and thoroughly discredited; yet the ANC settled for it anyway.

“Basically, they accepted the government and pretty much agreed that apartheid would continue to rein everywhere else – the economy, access to health care, education and decent housing.”

A report last October by Statistics South Africa painted a mixed picture of South Africa. Over the past decade, annual earnings of Black households increased by 169 percent to 60,613 rand (approximately U.S. $6,644).

White household earnings over that same period rose by 88 percent to 365,134 rand (about U.S. $40,927).

“These figures tell us that at the bottom of the rung is the black majority, who continue to be confronted by deep poverty, unemployment and inequality. Great strides have been made,” President Zuma said.

“However, much remains to be done to further improve the livelihoods of our people especially in terms of significant disparities that still exist between the rich and poor.”

Those economic disparities were highlighted last year in a report by the World Bank titled, “South Africa Economic Update: Focus on inequality of opportunity.”

According to the report, the top 10 percent of the population receive 58 percent of the country’s income. The bottom 10 percent accounted for only .5 percent of South Africa’s income.

Overall, the bottom 50 percent of South Africans receive only 8 percent of the country’s income.

Earlier this month, The Economist noted, “… the gap between rich and poor is now wider than under apartheid.”

South Africa has an official unemployment rate of 25.2 percent – 33 percent if discouraged workers are counted – according to the World Bank.

“… Africa’s population, unlike Asia’s, is growing fast. From 1 billion now it is set to double in little more than a generation,” said The Economist.

“A youthful population is a blessing in many ways. But if the extra people cannot find jobs, they may cause unrest and instability. South Africa knows this too well. Joblessness is one reason for high crime rates that make it necessary for rich South Africans to sleep behind heavy barred doors and windows.”

A U.S. State Department report on South Africa observed that although most U.S. tourists travel safely in South Africa, crime is a major concern.

“Criminal activity, such as assault, armed robbery, and theft, is particularly high in areas surrounding certain hotels and public transportation centers, especially in major cities,” the report stated.

“Theft of passports and other valuables is most likely to occur at airports, bus terminals, and train stations. A number of U.S. citizens have been mugged or violently attacked on commuter and metro trains, especially between Johannesburg and Pretoria.”

The report said, “South Africa also has the highest reported occurrence of rape in the world.” A country profile by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) said South Africa ranks No.1 in the world with the 5.6 million people living with HIV/AIDS. The number of deaths from AIDS – 310,000 in 2009 – also places South Africa ahead of all other nations.

Jesse Jackson said that anti-apartheid activists in South Africa were so focused on ending rigid segregation in the early 1990s that they didn’t have the luxury of focusing on broader, economic matters.

“What we’re seeing increasingly is Africans are free, but not equal,” he said, ticking off a list of areas that ranged from healthcare to banking.

Still, Jackson said, the “born frees” – those born after apartheid ended in 1994 – will be responsible for addressing remaining issues, such as economic inequality.

Ranjeni Munusamy, one of the top political writers in South Africa, is hopeful about the country’s future – but not under Zuma, who has a year left on his term.

“When Zuma began his presidency, there were high hopes and goodwill for him to succeed in the targets he set,” Munusamy said. “It was neither in the national nor international interests to wish him to fail.

“When a president fails, the country fails. In the past four years, South Africa has looked on in astonishment as his administration lurched from one crisis to another.

“Even by his own standards, and in his own mind, Zuma cannot believe that his presidency has been a success.”

 

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Palestinian Culture Identity

By Leila Diab

Palestine has been in existence from time immemorial. The Palestinian people have endured under foreign occupation for centuries and presently, for 65 years, have undergone many blatant and illegal violations of their basic human rights:

Among them are the holistic confiscation of their homeland and walled in from their towns and villages for endless miles and miles under an Israeli military occupation.

History, the true authentic history of Palestine and its freedom fighters are the centuries old roots of the olive trees of life that will never be cut down.

May 15 was Palestine Day and was a day to celebrate the Palestinians’  authentic  will of existence, resistance and their zestful and steadfast revolution for life.

Looking back in time, the Palestinian people's perseverance of countless foreign invasions have included:

The Persian invasion in 538 B.C;

The Greek invasion by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C.;

The Roman invasion in 64 B.C.;

The war of the Crusades in 1099 A.D and 1187 A.D.;

The Ottomans’ 400 years of rule;

The British Mandate from 1920-1948 and thus began one of the most demonic, immoral and barbarous epic of 65 years of escalation in the  Zionist imperial aggression in human tragedy of mistrust, the myths of truth, foreign territorial claims and the betrayal of Palestinians in their homeland.

On Palestine day, as well as everyday of the year, Palestinians from every corner of the world and in every refugee camp filled with hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in occupied Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria continue to carry with them the deeds and keys to their homes for generation after generation in occupied Palestine hoping for the right to return to their homeland in Palestine.

Yet, Palestinians remain an invincible people with the courage and steadfast will to obtain freedom in their dire quest for a peaceful, non violent resolution to this moral media and world blackout or blackmail of their human existence and the continued siege of their territorial homeland.

And isn't it ironic that Palestinians accepted European Jews as their neighbor to Palestine under the edict of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine which was granted to the United Kingdom in 1922, albeit with the incorporation of the Balfour Declaration of 1917?

Parenthetically, in the decade after the establishment of the British Mandate over Palestine, Jewish immigration to Palestine began to increase from less than 10 percent to over 17 percent of the Palestinian population.

The Jewish people then became their neighbors in the promised land of the Palestinian homeland. And thus the spiraling images of past Jewish victims of inhumanity to man are now the victimizers of Palestinians in today's saga of injustices in Palestine.

On Palestine Day, freedom fighters like Abu Jihad, Yasser Arafat, Dalal Magrabi, the women, men and children of Palestine and many, many others who are known and unknown will be remembered for their honorable sacrifices and struggles, in life and in death, for the right to return to their homeland, a passport and a Palestinian National flag to raise over Jerusalem, the city of peace.

Does it matter if Palestinians have postage stamps and coins dating back from 1865-1981? Does it matter if this important facet of the most popular traditional Palestinian art-form is embroidery and that every region or village in Palestine has a distinctive Palestinian embroidered motif – whether it be a tablecloth or a dress?

Does it matter that Islam and Christianity spread their cultures and traditions, whether it be in churches, mosques, schools or women centers?

Does it matter that Palestinians are living under the longest occupation in history?  Does it matter when Palestinians from the past, present and future relate their own stories and their own history?

Does it matter when people from all professionals of life are ostracized from their work for not keeping silent and advocating the truth of the Palestinian dilemma?

And does it matter to whom Palestine belongs?

In the course of Palestine's long history then and now, yes it matters, that everything is a valid obsession of the reality of truth, one's authentic cultural existence and identity, and not in the distortions of myths.

More importantly, what matters the most for Palestinians is to be acknowledged throughout the world as people with a country called Palestine, who value their cultural existence and identity.

Being a Palestinian is not a catastrophe. However, in the last 65 years of an Israeli military government occupation of Palestine, that is the inexcusable and immoral human catastrophe.

“How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty?”

(Bertrand Russell). And this is the question that needs to be answered by all of us on Palestine Day.

“Every Palestinian generation that is scattered through out the world or displaced should possess a Palestinian passport for life this Palestine Day,” decried an anonymous Palestinian activist.  That is Palestine Day sealed with documentation of existence for a lifetime.

And just like the olive trees that are thousands of years old, our entrenched Palestinian roots, are still alive.

This Palestine Day, I paid special tribute to all Palestinians who courageously struggled for freedom and their universal right to return to their homeland, Palestine.

 

 

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President Barack Obama
Photo by Shevry Lassiter

By Barrington M. Salmon,

Special to the NNPA from

The Washington Informer

It is customary for the evening news and other media outlets to characterize Africa in the most negative and derisive manner.

Droughts, coups, famine, civil unrest and poverty often take center stage, while any number of success stories and the many positive developments occurring among the continent’s 54 nations are often ignored.

So on a recent Friday panel discussion with three presidents and a prime minister at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) was a breath of fresh air. Here an audience of several hundred heard the leaders talk about their efforts to institute and strengthen good governance, the rule of law, and transparency.

The leaders took part in a wide-ranging discussion, titled “Consolidating Democratic Gains, Promoting African Prosperity,” at USIP in Northwest, at a function that was televised live and on Twitter.

“The Africa of today is far from the cliches of war, famines and coups,” said Senegalese President Macky Sall. “We’re moving toward democracy and growth. We’re the cradle of mankind, a magical continent with diversity and resources. Africa today is a continent on the march.”

Sall was joined by Presidents Ernest Bai Koroma and Joyce Banda and Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves.

Each detailed their governments’ roles in fostering the social and economic upswings of their respective countries, the seemingly intractable challenges and their vision of an independent, self-sufficient and transformed Africa during what moderator Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnny Carson called “a very stimulating and delightful” conversation.

“They’re here because of the contributions they’ve made to strengthen democratic institutions in their countries,” said Carson, who retired from the State Department on Friday, March 29.

“They have developed independent judiciaries, free press and vibrant economies to protect their democracies. Sierra Leone held free, fair and credible elections where 90 percent of the citizens participated peacefully.”

“This was the second term for President Koroma to continue his agenda for prosperity. The economy is expanding rapidly.”

The quartet was invited to the White House by President Barack Obama on Thurs., March 28, because of what Obama said was recognition of the fact that each leader had “undertaken significant efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, protect and expand human rights and civil liberties, and increase economic opportunities for their people.”

Carson spoke of Sall’s election a year ago, and the instability and economic contraction surrounding his predecessor’s attempts to secure a controversial third term.

Since then, Sall has instituted economic reforms, worked to reduce conflict, unrest and tension in the southern Casamance region. In fact, Carson said, Senegal’s economy is expected to grow by five percent this year.

Sall prompted laughter when he said he was putting one of the two presidential jets up for sale but with no takers, may have to offer it to a museum. Both he and Banda said they have scaled back on ministerial perks and she has gotten rid of fleets of vehicles as well.

Banda was the vice president in President Binguwa Mutharika’s government until he died suddenly in April 2012. Mutharika dismissed Banda and attempted to appoint his brother leader of his political party and Malawi’s next president.

When he died, some in the cabinet, his wife and others questioned Banda’s legitimacy to succeed Mutharika even though the constitution was clear on succession. Banda is said to have called Malawi’s army commander who agreed to support her and stationed troops around her home. She also acknowledged America’s role behind the scenes in ensuring her ascension to the presidency.

Toward the end of his presidency, Mutharika managed to alienate the U.S., Britain, the European Union, the World Bank and other lending institutions and all, including some other European countries suspended financial assistance. His critics expressed concern about his erratic policies and actions that threatened Malawi’s democratic institutions.

“One year ago, she implemented tough political and economic reforms, including a currency devaluation, and removed price controls for fuel,” Carson explained. “In the first 100 days, she turned the country around. The economy has expanded and continues to grow.”

Banda, who has been involved in women’s issues for 30 years, said a number of austerity measures and policy proposals that she’s enacted have been deeply disliked but vowed to continue even if it costs her personally.

“We’re on track, strengthening government institutions and increasing the level of comfort for donors to return,” she said. “The 100 days was used to also improve relations with our neighbors.

I reversed all the laws that were not good and in July 2012, we started a national dialogue on the economy. Using mining, energy, tourism, infrastructure and agriculture, we will be able to create wealth for Malawians.

“For 14 months, we have implemented a very, very unpopular reform program. I should have backtracked because elections are next year but it’s OK ….”

Koroma is guiding a country that still bears the scars of a brutal civil war that ended in 2002. He spoke of developing institutions to foster democratic change, such as the Independent Media Commission and the National Commission on Democracy, the work undertaken to bolster the economy and critical sectors such as mining and agriculture and restructuring police and security forces so they adhere to human rights standards.

Despite the challenges, he said he’s pleased with the progress. “What we take pride in is that we’re committed to moving forward,” he said. “We have peace and a rapidly developing country … we’ve built on the peace and positioned ourselves for growth. This is why we believe that Sierra Leone is no longer a country of blood diamonds … I believe that Sierra Leone is on the move.”

Neves presides over a string of islands – Cape Verde – off the coast of West Africa that have been lauded by Obama and other administration officials for fostering a favorable environment for investment, for its high and steady economic growth and for having one of the highest literacy rates in the world.

“I think that in order to ensure continuity, we must respect scrupulously the rules of the game,” said Neves, in answer to a question about keeping democracy on-track.

“We must build consensus on the issues and we must strengthen the social dialogue with unions, businesses and management. By carrying out a government of rules, governments become more legitimate every day. They must provide answers to social needs, develop new channels of access and ensure that civil society has room to develop and grow.”

Neves said it is critical to cater to the needs of young people and women, adding that every African country’s success is tied to including them in all aspects of the country’s growth and development in ways that go well beyond lip service.

“We must invest in education, university training and professional and technical training to create conditions so that they can be employed,” he said primarily of young people.

“Women represent the future of humanity, period. I have budgets that include gender questions and issues. We must reduce the inequality of the distribution of power and wealth.”

“We must now say, ‘beside every great man is a great woman …”‘

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Sierra Leone Rock Breakers

Special to the NNPA from

the Greene County Democrat

 

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone – Thousands of children in Sierra Leone are paying for their own education or helping their families make ends meet by working as rock-breakers for the country’s construction industry.

Child labor is nothing new in Sierra Leone, but the brutal job of breaking stones with a hammer for hours on end in the baking heat has raised particular concern.

Even for adults, the work is extremely tough, and injuries are common.

The rock-breakers are paid for finished gravel, or aggregate – sold at 5,000 leones (about US$1) per large plastic tub – but sales are sporadic and unpredictable.

Education and child labor are often closely entwined in Sierra Leone, where schooling can impose a severe financial strain. Although primary education is nominally free, parents must pay for uniforms, books, pens, transport and in some cases contributions to teachers’ salaries.

To send their children to school, therefore, many parents must also send them to work. In 2007, Foday Mansaray, a former mobile-phone salesman, set up a completely free school in the village of Adonkia, a few kilometres outside the capital Freetown, in a bid to get children out of the quarries.

The severely under-funded Borbor Pain Charity School of Hope currently has 380 students, all of whom have worked as stone-breakers. But Mansaray estimates there are up to 3,000 more children engaged in the practice throughout the country.

However, such is the level of poverty among many local families that despite paying nothing for their education most of the school’s children still have to work, and will often have to continue to do so once they move on to more senior schools.

Sierra Leone’s economy grew by over 20 percent last year, fuelled by the resumption of iron-ore mining. But the mineral boom has yet to be felt by most Sierra Leoneans.

 

0 48
Mali Map

 Special to the NNPA from

the Global Information Network

(GIN) – Mali’s 40 newspapers were off the stands in March this year and 16 private FM radio stations were silent or only playing music in response to a government crackdown on media reporting about growing discontent among troops fighting Islamist militants in the North.

A soldier’s letter, published by the Le Republicain newspaper, said the armed forces lacked equipment and rations while military top brass were living in comfort in the capital, Bamako.

Le Republicain editor’s Boukary Daou was arrested. Communications Minister Manga Dembele said Daou acted irresponsibly and unpatriotically by publishing the soldiers’ open letter to the president, but there has been no official word from the authorities about the case.

Also silenced was Radio Guintan, a station for women, which had all its transmitter towers destroyed.

“There are people in authority who believe that if we’re stopped from denouncing what they’re up to, then they’ll get away with it,” Radio Guintan’s Ramata Dia told the BBC.

Global media watchdog the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Daou’s arrest was “another example of Malian security agents acting outside the law in trying to harass journalists.”

Meanwhile, the UN’s human rights body said that preliminary investigations show Malian soldiers have been carrying out retaliatory attacks on ethnic groups perceived to have supported rebel groups.

“Thousands have reportedly fled out of fear of reprisal by the Malian army,” the deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang, was quoted to say.

0 54
Muslim Journal International News Category

By Bert Wilkinson?Special

to the NNPA from the

New York Amsterdam News

The lights in the Caribbean trade bloc’s richest country and the region’s largest economy went out after midnight on Good Friday, March 29, while 1.3 million residents of Trinidad and Tobago slept.

The outage triggered countrywide panic and fears of looting. Above all, it reminded those in authority how vulnerable and helpless the country could be in a crisis.

Some, including thousands of tourists, slept through the collapse of the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission’s (T&TEC) generating systems. But others who were frightened out of a restful night’s sleep protested vehemently about the failure of the government to fix a system that has failed one too many times in recent years.

Officials in the administration of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar blamed a problem linked to gas supply from the state’s oil and gas company for the shutdown of the system. It darkened the entire island of Trinidad as well as the tourist paradise of Tobago.

At the start of the outage, the national security ministry heightened the security alert, mindful of the looting and chaos that had taken place in the past during periods of brief crises.

Some, both in and out of government, initially speculated that saboteurs might have been behind the power outage and eyed a resurgent opposition. But this suspicion was quickly dispelled by official explanations that the national outage was linked to a technical breakdown.

The one good thing that will apparently emerge from the Good Friday debacle is that attention is now being turned to reduced dependence on fossil fuels for power generation.

Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine now says that officials will ramp up long-held plans to turn to renewable energy sources to power some sectors of the economy, both to minimize fossil fuel dependency and help bolster the level of power generation overall.

He also said that cabinet as a matter of urgency will discuss the latest crisis in general and the need to push ahead with the low carbon, non-fossil fuels program that officials had been sitting on for years.

“The blackout showed us the importance of diversifying away from fossil fuels. We are seeing that in the not too distant future, in five to six years, T&T will require another new power plant,” said Ramnarine.

“We are doing everything within our power to provide a regular and reliable supply of electricity. Certain things may be beyond your control, but we are certainly looking at every aspect of it,” he said.

Engineers were able to repower some areas within hours of the worse shutdown in years, but residents in others had to wait longer. But no one has said much about the link between the water supply and power supply. The water flow in many areas simply went down as well, adding to the misery of islanders on the long holiday weekend.

0 63

By Bill Fletcher Jr.

NNPA Columnist

In January 2004, as the president of TransAfrica Forum, I had the honor of leading the first African American delegation to meet with the leaders of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution.

It was important for us to conduct this visit in order to better understand what was transpiring but also to get a better sense of race, the Afro-descendant movement, and the revolutionary process in Venezuela.

Our delegation had the opportunity to meet with President Hugo Chavez on more than one occasion but the first real dialogue was more than memorable.  Chavez gave us an overview of Venezuela’s history and what led to his winning power.

I thanked him for the meeting and proceeded to describe my feelings at the time of the 2002 coup. I mentioned to him and his colleagues that I was very sad upon hearing of the coup, and, of course, delighted when he was restored to power.

What really struck me at the time of the coup, however, was looking at the faces of the crowds on television.  I looked at the crowds that supported Chavez and those who opposed him and at that moment so much of what was unfolding in Venezuela clicked for me.

For it was clear that Chavez had phenomenal support among the poorer and the darker parts of the Venezuelan population, while the opposition looked like it could have walked in from Madrid.

One of the most important contributions of President Chavez and the Bolivarian process has been to help to put race on the table for discussions and action.  Under President Chavez, renewed attention has gone to the indigenous and the Afro-descendant populations.

This attention, we should note, was not the result of Chavez alone, but a combination of factors with the most important being the actual social movements of the indigenous and Afro-descendant populations of Venezuela.

It is critically important to grasp that in Venezuela, including in many progressive and Left circles, there is adamant denial of race as a factor in Venezuela’s reality.

The opposition to President Chavez, we should be clear, denies race altogether.  In the Bolivarian movement the recognition of race and racism within Venezuelan society has been uneven.

But with the combination of the social movements plus Chavez’s support, race came to be openly discussed in Venezuela. And actual steps were taken to address a very different form of White supremacy than the version with which we are familiar here in North America.

I had hoped to return to Venezuela and once again meet President Chavez.  That will, obviously, be impossible.  Chavez will be deeply missed by so many fighters for justice.

His recognition of the importance of race and the struggle for racial justice placed him in a unique role in Latin America as a conscious ally of the movements of the Indigenous peoples and the Afro-descendant populations.

His audacity alone was enough for one to love him, not to mention his humor and brilliance.

We cannot afford to lose fighters like Hugo Chavez which is why it remains so critical that genuine movements for social justice and transformation are producing new leaders of his quality each day.

(Bill Fletcher Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum and the author of “They’re Bankrupting Us” – And Twenty Other Myths about Unions.  Follow him at www.billfletcherjr.com.)

 

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China Map

Great wall of ChinaChina has to deal with the paradox of having the world’s largest population and not having a sufficient workforce to serve both Chinese and multi-national companies. The numbers can be deceiving. In 2005, for example, China produced 3.1 million college graduates; the United States graduated 1.3 million. Over that same period, Chinese engineering graduates exceeded 600,000. By comparison, the U.S. graduated 70,000. “Despite this apparent vast supply, however, multinational companies are finding few graduates that have the necessary skills for service occupations… less than 10 percent of Chinese job candidates, on average, would be suitable for work in a foreign company in the nine occupations we studied: engineers, finance workers, accountants, quantitative analysts, generalists, life science researchers, doctors, nurses and support staff,” according to a McKinsey & Co. report titled, “Addressing China’s Looming Talent Shortage.” As China grapples with its internal challenges, it is coming under increasing pressure to become a more open society. “Against a backdrop of rapid socio-economic change and modernization, China continues to be an authoritarian one-party state that imposes sharp curbs on freedom of expression, association, and religion; openly rejects judicial independence and press freedom and arbitrarily restricts and suppresses human rights defenders and organizations, often through extra-judicial measures,” according to a 2012 report by Human Rights Watch. The beating and killing of unarmed protesters in 1989 in Tiananmen Square and the subsequent suppression of student protesters and their supporters is still fresh in the minds of many westerners. More recently, widespread concerns have been voiced about the alleged computer hacking of U.S. companies, including the New York Times, by Chinese military units – charges that Chinese officials strongly deny – have raised concerns about what kind of partner China will be to the U.S. In unusually blunt language, Thomas E. Donilon, President Obama’s national security adviser, said in a speech Monday to the Asia Society in New York: “Increasingly, U.S. businesses are speaking out about their concerns about sophisticated, targeted theft of confidential business information and propriety technologies through cyber-intrusions on an unprecedented scale.” Yan Jian, assistant director of the China Center for Comparative Politics and Economics, said as China and the U.S. try to work out conflicts, critics should take into account the brief period that China has moved toward a more open society.

Politics

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By Nusayba Hammad, Communications Director, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (nusayba@uscpr.org) WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an act unprecedented in recent history, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand...
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