Saturday, October 3, 2009

Congo in Harlem

The conflict raging in Democratic Republic of Congo is the deadliest humanitarian crisis since World War
II. It has taken nearly 6 million lives since 1996, most of them women and children. But despite the vast
human toll, most Americans are still unfamiliar with the conflict, and even less so with Congo’s vibrant
culture and traditions.

During the month of October, the Maysles Cinema presents Congo in Harlem. Congo in Harlem a
month-long series of film screenings accompanied by special events, panel discussions, performances, and
receptions. Congo in Harlem will provide audiences with more than the traditional movie-going
experience -- it will offer opportunities to discover Congolese culture, learn about the ongoing
humanitarian crisis, engage in dialog, and get involved.

October 18th - 24th marks International Congo Week, a worldwide initiative to join in solidarity with the
people of Congo in breaking the silence about the conflict. Congo in Harlem will coincide with this
initiative, and offer a critical venue for reflection, discussion, and action.

The films programmed in this series are intended to educate, inspire, provoke, and entertain. They present
a broad range of subjects and experiences from important and often underrepresented voices. There are
historical investigations of Congo’s heroes and despots (Lumumba; Mobutu, King of Zaire; and
Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death); intimate accounts of the current conflict (Lumo,
Women in War Zones and Reporter); rare glimpses of the colonial era (Matamata/Pilipili and
Pygmy Thrills); celebrations of Congolese artists and musicians (Jupiter’s Dance and Afro@Digital); and films made by established and emerging Congolese directors (La Vie Est Belle and Yole!Africa Shorts Program). Most screenings will be accompanied by panel discussions, featuring the filmmakers, experts, and activists.

Selected evenings will feature receptions with Congolese food, drinks, live poetry, dance, and musical performances. Proceeds from the events Congo in Harlem will benefit various organizations working inside Congo.

Throughout the month, a digital of slideshow of A Congo Chronicle: Lumumba in Urban Art, will be projected in the cinema’s community space, courtesy of the Museum for African Art. The space will also be used for the sale of Congo-related books, DVDs, crafts and clothing.

Click here to view schedule of films and other events during Congo Week.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Brian McKnight


When R&B crooner Brian McKnight first hit the charts and radio waves in 1992, music fans were not only impressed with his vocal ability, but also his songwriting talent, and his skills as a multi-instrumentalist (he can play nine instruments). Clearly marked as his modus operandi, McKnight has maintained his music career by multi-tasking.

read more click here 

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Afghanistan/Pakistan, Where Empires Go to Die - II


by Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

Under the pretext of responding to the September 11, 2001 attacks in America, the United and States and Great Britain invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 under the banner of Operation Enduring Freedom. President Bush 41’ told the American people that the US strikes were,

“…designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations, and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime…we will make it more difficult for the terror network to train new recruits and coordinate their evil plans. Initially, the terrorists may burrow deeper into caves and other entrenched hiding places…At the same time, the oppressed people of Afghanistan will know the generosity of America and our allies. As we strike military targets, we will also drop food, medicine and supplies to the starving and suffering men and women and children of Afghanistan… ”

During the 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Obama promised to immediately withdraw troops from Iraq in order to bolster the forces in Afghanistan in order to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda. “It’s time to refocus our attention on the war we have to win in Afghanistan.”

I believe that this tactic was taken by the Obama team in order to placate the anti-Iraq contingent of the American electorate on the left while not leaving himself vulnerable to the “soft on defense” hawkish argument on the right. As a campaign tactic this approach proved to be successful. In reality, this may prove to be one of the greatest miscalculations President Obama has made. The real question here becomes, what’s the best tactic to accomplish this end?

Click to read.

Thursday, August 20, 2009




NEW YORK(AP)—Former New York Giant Plaxico Burress(notes) pleaded guilty Thursday to a weapons charge and agreed to a two-year prison term for accidentally shooting himself at a Manhattan nightclub.

The ex-wide receiver pleaded guilty to one count of attempted criminal possession of a weapon, a lesser charge than he initially faced. Under a plea agreement, he agreed to a two-year prison sentence and two years of supervised release.

Burress was indicted earlier this month on two counts of criminal possession of a weapon and one count of reckless endangerment. He faced a minimum sentence of 3 1/2 years if convicted at a trial.

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Investigators in Tennessee are looking into how an 18-year-old man died while in police custody.

The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro reports that Andron Reed died after officers arrested him Friday night. They say it all started when Reed led them on a high-speed chase.

It eventually ended in a crash, but authorities say Reed did not have any apparent injuries.

Reed's brother, who was with him at the time, told a Memphis newspaper that he could hear Reed being beaten at the jail.

Reed was later found unresponsive and died.

Investigators say he put up a struggle with officers when he was arrested, but they're not sure if that's what caused his death.

"We do know that he was fairly combative, that officers had to use some restraint to get him under control, these are things that we know right now," said TBI Spokesperson Kristin Helm. "Whether or not he was beaten or died from natural causes, those are things that will be determined as a result of the autopsy and the course of our investigation."

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Monday, August 17, 2009



NEW YORK (AP)—Michael Vick(notes) says he cried in prison because of the guilt he felt about being involved in dogfighting, and was disgusted with himself for allowing it to happen.

In an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night, Vick said the day he walked into prison he realized “the magnitude of the decisions that I made.

“And, you know, it’s no way of, you know, explaining, you know, the hurt and the guilt that I felt. And that was the reason I cried so many nights. And that put it all into perspective,” he said.

A three-time Pro Bowl pick during six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, Vick served 18 months in federal prison for running a dogfighting ring and was reinstated last month by the NFL after being out of action since 2006.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Minister Farrakhan's Wife Featured in National Women's Magazine

farrakhan wife


Chicago, IL ( - There is a saying that "behind every good man, is a good woman," however, in the case of The Honorable Minister Farrakhan, the leader of The Nation of Islam and the convener of the Million Man March, "behind every great man is a phenomenal woman."

Mother Khadijah Farrakhan, wife of The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, is featured on the cover of the current issue of Virtue Today Magazine, an inspirational new women's magazine out of Raleigh, North Carolina, that focuses on uplifting women. Mother Farrakhan is featured along side Michelle Obama and Winnie Mandela for the cover story: Black First Ladies. Mother Farrakhan is the First Lady of The Nation of Islam

Read more click here

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

2009 El Salvador Elections: " Si, Se Puede "

As an international observer at the 2009 Presidential elections in El Salvador, I was so astonished to witness history in the making. At the end of the election day, hundreds of voters cheered the campaign slogan in the streets, “ Si, Se Puede.” because for the first time, true democracy has finally won victory over the strongest right wing party. Farabundo Marti National Liberation (FMLN) candidate, Maurico Funes defeated National Republican Alliance (ARENA) party candidate, Rodrigo Avila in a tight race. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) reported that President Maurico Funes won majority vote of 51.23 percent over 49.1 percent for Arena party.

In January, the presidential campaign exit polls showed that FMLN party’s potential unprecedented win could possibly beat ARENA’s four consecutive presidential election winning streak at a close margin. In order to lessen corruption, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal approved over 4,000 registered international and national observers. Under my program, the 8th Center For Exchange and Solitary International (CIS) recruited up to 265 observers from 11 foreign nations to observe in 28 different municipalities. Our monitoring team was assigned in Ilabasco, Cabanas (pro-Arena party area), which is a municipality located northeast part of El Salvador.

On Election Day:

My assessment of the electoral process corroborated the marginal state of El Salvador’s democratic institution. On election day, acting as a complete impartial bystander was the biggest challenge for me. Although I was not authorized to participate in the elections, its was very difficult to not intervene due to the transparency issues. Consequently, I’ve recorded over a dozen irregularities; ranging from violations in voting privacy, the usage of invalid citizenship identifications, senior citizen assistance, and counting duplicate ballots. Other than procedural issues, logistical implications was also a problem. The voting tables occasionally formed lines wrapped around the booths, which caused traffic in the middle of the center. The voting booth equipment was somewhat mistreated. Several voting tables were missing issued curtains. Also, there was a huge unbalanced of Arena party colors surrounding the voting center. The ARENA campaigners distributed food and beverages, did not remove hung up party flags on nearby buildings and transported distanced voters to the voting centers.

Despite fraud, the election process performed better than what we expected. Our finalized report asserted that there were no major incidents held during the elections. The report stressed other implications, such as circulation of anti-party propaganda, bribery votes and attempt votes from voters from neighboring countries (Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala). In conclusion, there is still room to rectifying the legality of the voting process. This new era will provide the electoral system a better chance in providing free and fairer elections in the future. This historical election ended two decades of strong conservative and corruptive rule. Under President Maurico Funes’s leadership, the country can be more committed to achieving sustainable democracy. In retrospect, high levels of longevity corruption and oppression crippled the democratic system. The country suffered from severe socio-economic losses under the ARENA party. Overtime, poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and human rights violations exacerbated in poorer communities. The growing pains within poor communities ended up polarizing the country between the military and the ex-guerilla Marxist rural rebels.

With this new victory, The FLMN party can rebuild a new and prosperous democratic institution. President Maurico Funes’s platform focuses on the implementation of policies that will benefit the majority of the people, which will guarantee freedom of expression, human rights protection and equal participation in the free market and investment climate. In doing so, the new administration must first establish reconciliation with ARENA party in order to work with the legislative majority, which is an excellent approach in reducing the income disparity, ensuring civil liberties and strengthening domestic security.

Still yet, President Maurico Funes faces intensive criticism from the ARENA party. ARENA political opponents believe that President Maurico Funes’s win in the executive power will exercise Venezuelan socialist influences. Also, critics argued against President Funes foreign policy decisions. Many argue against President Funes’ support to re-integrate stronger relations with the U.S and fear that he will be one of U.S‘s bully puppets. Since Post-Reagan administration, the U.S-El Salvador relation has been very controversial in the country. Many anti-American critics have expressed deep concerns focusing on El Salvador’s involvement in the Iraq War, CAFTA, and the usage of U.S. dollarization as El Salvadorian currency.

President Funes advocated that his change reform will reshape El Salvador’s foreign policy. His platform does not represent the old leftist school of thought nor advocates Chavez, Oretga and Castro influences. Instead, President Funes is a true proponent in establishing a different tone to El Salvador’s global image by resetting relations, especially with the U.S. and Latin American countries. El Salvador can not afford to repeal against CAFTA and U.S. dollarization. This course of action would debilitate the country’s economic security during the current global financial crisis. At The 2009 Summit of the Americas, President Funes proposed that El Salvador must strengthen relationships by respecting those existing global trade-military agreements but ensure that those future decisions represent the interest of the people. El Salvador looks forward to further cooperation with U.S. if only the Obama administration is willing to listen and not to impose power on the country.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Many Nigerians Dislike Foreign Oil Companies

LONDON (Reuters) -- Oil rose to $70 a barrel on Monday after Nigeria's main militant group said it attacked a Royal Dutch Shell oil platform, outweighing a fairly bearish report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said its fighters struck the Shell Forcados platform in the Delta state.

There was no immediate independent confirmation but Shell said it shut in some oil production at its western operations in the Delta while it investigated reports of attacks.

U.S. crude for August delivery rose to a high of $70.06 per barrel, up 90 cents, before slipping back slightly to $69.75.

"The Nigerian supply disruptions brought in some buying," said Christopher Bellew, broker at Bache Commodities in London.


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Monday, June 22, 2009

Over a quarter of All South African Men Admit to Rape

South Africans received a horrifying measure of just how bad their country's rape crisis is with the release this week of a study in which more than a quarter of men admitted to having raped, and 46% of those said that they had raped more than once.

The study, conducted by South Africa's Medical Research Council, reveals a deeply rooted culture of violence against women, in which men rape in order to feel powerful, and do so with impunity, believing that their superiority entitles them to vent their frustrations on women and children. The men most likely to rape, the researchers found, were not the poorest, but those who had attained some level of education and income.

Click to read.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Historic Gathering Off-Broadway With Second Black Woman in History to Win Pulitzer for Drama

The Manhattan Theatre Club and the Off-Broadway play “Ruined”

have provided a platform for the women of the Congo to share with the global community
the nature of the conflict in the Congo, its impact on Congolese women and how each and every one of us can play a role in bringing an end to the unnecessary suffering of the women of the Congo.

Congolese women will participate in a forum hosted by Congo Global Action, Friends of the Congo and Ellen Stone Belic Institute at Columbia College, Chicago on Sunday, June 14, 2009, 2 PM,
following the production of the Pulitzer winning play “Ruined.”

The June 14th production of “Ruined” is a benefit fundraiser in support of the work of Friends of the Congo and Congo Global Action. Proceeds from the sale of tickets will go to support the work of these two organizations with women in the Congo.

You can support our efforts by purchasing tickets for this historic event.

Find out more about the June 14th production and panel discussion.

Read the press release of this historic event.

View a brief monologue by one of the lead actors in the play.

Learn more about the situation of women in the Congo.

Find out more about the play.

Friends of Congo, Congo Global Action, Ellen Stone Belic Institute at Columbia College, Chicago, George Malaika Foundation, Congo Restoration, Common Cause UK, Foundation Shalupe, HEAL Africa, Lisa Jackson of Jackson Films, Playwright Lynn Nottage, second African American woman in history to win Pulitzer Prize for drama and cast members of "Ruined" will participate in the historic event.

For more information, please call Friends of the Congo at 202-584-6512 or Congo Global Action at 202-884-9784. You may also email or Visit,
or for more details.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Can Obama Achieve Peace in the Middle East?

Israel must halt West Bank settlement activity and the Palestinians need to increase West Bank security to advance the Middle East peace process, President Obama said Thursday after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, meets with President Obama Thursday.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, meets with President Obama Thursday.

"I am confident that we can take this process forward if all the parties are willing to ... meet all the obligations that they have committed to," Obama said after meeting with Abbas at the White House.

Abbas said his Palestinian Authority was committed to fulfilling its obligations under the 2003 Middle East road map, and both men called for immediate progress in the peace process.

The talks came days before Obama is scheduled to meet with Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh and deliver a long-awaited speech on relations between the United States and the Muslim world in Cairo, Egypt

Last week, Obama pushed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a firm Israeli commitment to Palestinian statehood as part of the so-called two-state solution -- a position strongly advocated Thursday by Abbas.

Netanyahu has committed to removing illegal settlement "outposts" but has also pledged to continue expansion, or "natural growth," of existing settlements.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Black News: Kenyan Court Verdict Draws Outrage

Thomas Cholmondeley, center, listen to a judge as sentence is ...

In a case that stirred fierce resentments over race and land, a Kenyan judge on Thursday sentenced the son of a baron to eight months in prison for killing a black poacher on his vast family estate.

The sentence handed down to Thomas Cholmondeley — a fraction of the possible life in prison he faced — provoked shouts of protest fromMaasai tribesmen and sighs of relief from white landowners, both of whom packed into the crowded courtroom.

Judge Muga Apondi last week convicted Cholmondeley of manslaughter in the 2006 shooting of a 37-year-old black poacher, Robert Njoya. The judge had reduced the charge down from murder, saying he believed Cholmondeley's attempts to give Njoya first aid helped prove that he accidentally shot the poacher when aiming at his dogs.

On Thursday, the judge said he took the three years Cholmondeley had already served into account, concluding, "I hereby wish to impose a light sentence on the accused to allow him to reflect on his life."

Cholmondeley's parents, Lord and Lady Delamere, listened to the verdict along with Sarah Njoya, the widow of the dead poacher, and traditionally dressed Maasai activists whose elongated earlobes brushed the traditional red-checked blankets they wore.


Click to read.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Black Global News: Kenyan Man Sues Over Lack of Sex

A Kenyan man has sued activists who called on women to boycott sex to protest the growing divide in the nation's coalition government.

James Kimondo said the seven-day sex ban, which ended this week, resulted in stress, mental anguish, backaches and lack of sleep, his lawyer told the state-run Kenya Broadcasting Corp.

The lawsuit filed Friday claims lack of conjugal rights affected Kimondo's marriage and seeks undisclosed damages from the G-10, an umbrella group for women's activists, KBC said.

The women's caucus caused a national debate when it urged women to withhold sex to protest increasingly frosty relations between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Citizens of the east African nation are frustrated by a shaky coalition government, which was formed after post-election violence killed more than 1,000 people in 2008. The wrangling between Kibaki and Odinga has sparked fears of more violence.

Gender activists say they are not worried about the lawsuit.


Click to read.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Africa News: Uganda President Calls for African Space Program

ENTEBBE, Uganda (AFP) – Africans must travel to the moon to investigate what developed nations have been doing in outer space, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said Saturday.

"The Americans have gone to the moon. And the Russians. The Chinese and Indians will go there soon. Africans are the only ones who are stuck here," Museveni said, addressing a meeting of the Uganda Law Society in Entebbe.

"We must also go there and say: 'What are you people doing up here?'."

Museveni urged the assembly of Uganda's top lawyers to support East African integration, arguing that one of the region's goals should be to develop a space programme.

"Uganda alone cannot go to the moon. We are too small. But East Africa united can. That is what East African integration is all about," he said. "Then we can say to the Americans: 'What are you doing here all alone?'."


Click to read.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Somalia’s Prime Minister Asks for Weapons Embargo to be Lifted

Somalia's prime minister told CNN Thursday that the international naval patrols in the Gulf of Aden are not solving the problem of piracy in the region.

Somalia's prime minister says the international naval patrols are having little effect on the piracy problem.

Somalia's prime minister says the international naval patrols are having little effect on the piracy problem.

Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke pointed to the recent increase in pirate attacks as evidence, and called for the U.N. arms embargo on Somalia to be lifted so the government can fight back against the pirates and local militant Islamist groups.

"One of our biggest problems is that al-Shabaab has AK-47s, and the pirates have AK-47s, and the government has AK-47s," the prime minister told CNN's David McKenzie in Nairobi, Kenya.

"You can't expect the government to win against such a problem. The only way is to have sufficient capability, and it starts with lifting the arms embargo. You know, we have been handicapped by those sanctions." Video Watch more from Somalia's PM »

The arms embargo on Somalia has been in effect for more than 16 years. Most serviceable weapons and almost all ammunition currently available in the country have been delivered since 1992, in violation of the embargo, according to the U.N. Security Council.


Click to read.

Dr. Ronald Walters Speaks on Obama’s Boycott of UN Racism Conference

by Dr. Ronald Walters, University of Maryland

I am missing something here.  President Barack Obama just went to Europe and Iraq and made speeches saying that he would be deferential to Communist China,  that he would meet without conditions with the leadership of Iran and that he wanted to open up a new relationship with the Islamic world.  Then he went to the Conference of the Americas in Trinidad and shook the hand of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela who has said some devilish things about America and the Bush administration.  But the key issue that took the conference over was the American overture to Cuba to talk, in response to Raul Castro’s statement that he would talk with the U. S. and that everything would be on the table.  Moreover, the Obama administration has said that it wanted to open up a new chapter in its relationship with the United Nations.  To that end, it has appointed an African American  Ambassador and put in its application for a seat on the Human Rights Commission.  Against this background, the decision of the Obama administration not to go to the United Nations Conference On Racism in Geneva, Switzerland April 20-24 would appear to be a powerful refutation of this relatively liberal approach to the international community it has established.

Click to read.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Playwright Lynn Nottage Wins the Nobel Prize

Stories of race and gender prevailed at this year's Pulitzer Prizes, with "Ruined," Lynn Nottage's harrowing tale of survival set against the backdrop of an African civil war, winning for drama Monday and books about slavery, civil rights and Andrew Jackson also receiving awards.

In a rare victory for the short story, Elizabeth Strout's "Olive Kitteridge," a collection set in New England and linked by the forthright title character, a math teacher and general scold with an understanding heart. It was the first book of short stories to win since 2000 (Jhumpa Lahiri's "Interpreter of Maladies").

Three prize winners centered on racial history, from colonial times to the 20th century.

Click to read.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Why Obama Doesn’t Care about the UN Racism Conference

by Dr. Christopher Metzler, Georgetown University

As President Obama shook hands with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, he was willing to take the political heat. He said that he was not concerned about the politics of the hand shake and more concerned about extending an open hand to nations hostile to the U.S. The open hand, it seems, is not so open after all. The President announced that, like the Bush Administration, the United States will boycott the world anti-racism conference (Durban II), which opens in Geneva today. According to the President, "I would love to be involved in a useful conference that addressed continuing issues of racism and discrimination around the globe. We expressed in the run-up to this conference our concerns that if you adopted all of the language from 2001, that's not something we can sign up for. "Hopefully some concrete steps come out of the conference that we can partner with other countries on to actually reduce discrimination around the globe, but this wasn't an opportunity to do it."

obama-rice.jpgHe is not willing to take the political heat in this case because there is language criticizing Israel and the West in the final document. As the world celebrates the election of the first Black President, the United States boycotts the world conference against racism. Symbolism, it seems has met political reality.

On this issue, it is difficult to reconcile the President's rhetoric with his actions. The President has repeatedly said that his policy is to talk with those with whom he disagrees. He is talking to Chavez, to Ahmadinejad, to Medvedev and Kim but cannot talk to human rights defenders about the best way to address the continuing significance of racism world wide? Surely the message cannot be that the United States does not believe that the right to be free from racism is not a basic human right.

Click to read more from our Black Scholar’s Blog.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Black News: US Now the “Number One Enemy” for Somali “Pirates”

The rescue of an American ship captain held at gunpoint in a daring operation that left three pirates dead and ended a five-day standoff drew threats of retaliation from angry pirates Monday.

Those threats raised fears for the safety of some 230 foreign sailors still held hostage in more than a dozen ships anchored off the coast of lawless Somalia.

"From now on, if we capture foreign ships and their respective countries try to attack us, we will kill them (the hostages)," Jamac Habeb, a 30-year-old pirate, said from one of Somalia's piracy hubs, Eyl. "(U.S. forces have) become our No. 1 enemy."

A Mogadishu airport staff member said mortar shells were fired toward the airport as a plane carrying U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., took off safely from the Somali capital on Monday.


Click to read.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Zimbabwe Will No Longer Use its own currency


Zimbabwe will not use its own local currency for at least a year, a state newspaper reported on Sunday, while it tries to repair an economy which critics say was destroyed by President Robert Mugabe.

The southern African state has allowed the use of multiple foreign currencies since January to stem hyperinflation which had rocketed to over 230 million percent and left the Zimbabwe dollar almost worthless.

The state-controlled Sunday Mail said the unity government of Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai decided the Zimbabwe dollar should only be reintroduced when industrial output reaches about 60 percent of capacity from the current 20 percent average.

"The Zimbabwe dollar will be out for at least a year. We resolved that there will be no immediate plans to (re)introduce the money because there is nothing to support and hold its value," the newspaper quoted Economic Planning and Development Minister Elton Mangoma as saying.

Click to read.

Black News: Somali “Pirates”: Watch the Video

What’s the deal with Somalia’s “pirates”?  Somalia has no government right now, but the country is gaining global attention after a recent incident with a US tanker.  Click the video to watch.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Black News: Somalia Government Has Collapsed

Warlords and militias terrorizing villages. No functioning government, courts or police. Drought and hunger afflicting half the country.

That's the situation in Somalia driving the epidemic of piracy off its coast, experts say. The chaos means there are no easy military or diplomatic solutions for the U.S. and allies to prevent attacks such as the one on the Maersk Alabama on Wednesday.

"There are not any straightforward or obvious answers," said Chris Albin-Lackey, a senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. Piracy "is, at the end of the day, a symptom of state collapse."

Jendayi Frazer, who was assistant secretary of State for African Affairs in George W. Bush's administration, said, "The idea that we could police that area through ships is not working. The problem is not in the sea — it's on the shore."

But international efforts to establish stability in Somalia have foundered.

The African Union has about 3,000 peacekeepers in Somalia tasked with keeping order in the capital, Mogadishu, but they are ineffective, said Jennifer Cooke, who directs the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank. Regular U.S. troops haven't been on the ground in the country since just after the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993, in which 18 Americans died. That battle, immortalized in the filmBlack Hawk Down, left Americans with "psychic scars" about putting troops in Africa, Cooke said.

Click to read.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pope Says Condoms Won’t Stop AIDS in Africa

Pope Benedict XVI said on his way to Africa Tuesday that condoms were not the answer in the continent's fight against HIV, his first explicit statement on an issue that has divided even clergy working with AIDS patients.

Benedict arrived in Yaounde, Cameroon's capital, Tuesday afternoon to a crowd of flag-waving faithful and snapping cameras. The visit is his first pilgrimage as pontiff to the African continent.

Benedict had never directly addressed condom use, though his position is not new. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, often said that sexual abstinence — not condoms — was the best way to prevent the spread of the disease.

Benedict said that the Roman Catholic Church is in the forefront of the battle against AIDS.


Click to read.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

African Leaders: Financial Crisis Threatens Chaos

Some African countries could "go under" if they are not helped through the global downturn, threatening "total chaos and violence", Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi warned the G20 on Monday.

At a meeting of African leaders in London ahead of next month's summit of the Group of 20 rich and emerging countries, presidents and prime ministers from across the continent warned of the costs of ignoring Africa.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was meeting African leaders to hear their concerns about the world economic downturn in the G20 build-up.

"They should care about Africa because it is in their interests," Meles, who will attend the G20 as the chair of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), told reporters.

"Any stimulus money spent in developed countries is going to have less global impact than if the same amount of money were to be spent in Africa.


Click to read.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Black News: Sudanese Soldier Says He Was Told to Rape Children

The story

I wanted to believe the man in front of me wasn't a rapist. I knew he was a former Sudanese soldier, I knew he wanted to talk about rape in Darfur. A humanitarian group working on Darfur issues had introduced him to us. They told us his testimony was important to hear.

Last year in Darfur aid workers told me children as young as five were being raped in the huge displacement camps that are home to several million Darfuris. In some camps, they told me, rape had become so common that as many as 20 babies a month born from rape were being abandoned.

As I sat inches from Adam --not his real name -- I feared the revulsion I knew I would feel at my own questions as I asked about rape and his involvement. I have interviewed rape survivors in Darfur. I have two daughters. I am a human being with a conscience. It would be hard to listen to his replies.


Click to read.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mugabe Criticized for Lavish Birthday Party

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was celebrating his 85th birthday with a lavish all-day party Saturday despite the fact that the country is gripped by an economic and health crisis.

President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, attend a cake-cutting ceremony for his birthday Saturday.

President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, attend a cake-cutting ceremony for his birthday Saturday.

Mugabe's ZANU-PF party said it raised at least $250,000 to hold the party in Mugabe's hometown of Chinhoyi, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) outside of the capital, Harare.

Critics of the president say the country is desperate for that amount of money to be spent instead on its citizens, who are suffering from a cholera outbreak, food shortages, and spiraling hyperinflation. On Friday, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai visited a hospital's closed intensive care unit that he said needed $30,000 to resume operating.

During the celebrations, Mugabe announced that his controversial land reform would not be reversed. The program is designed to have white-owned farms given to blacks, and there have been violent seizures of such farms since the program began in 2000.

He emphasized that the country's "indigenization program" -- which forces all major foreign companies operating in Zimbabwe to have at least 51 percent black ownership -- will be carried out. It began last year and hasn't been implemented yet.

Mugabe's birthday falls on February 21 but his party loyalists postponed the celebrations as they were raising money for the event.

Click to read.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


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This year’s recent opening of four Confucius Institutes-Togo, Nigeria, Liberia, and Bostswana-sheds light on the growing and powerful influence of the Chinese language in African countries. Confucius Institutes, the most prestigious Chinese language program abroad, is increasingly active in promoting the teaching of the Chinese language globally. Within the last decade, the establishing 21 operational Confucius Institutes in 13 African countries has helped to reshape China’s soft power.

Since the 2000 Forum of Chinese-African Relations Forum (FOCAC), a rising number of African governments requested to build Chinese language centers. Many African leaders believe the Confucius Institutes are positive contributors toward economic and cultural gain for African students and business workers.

Confucius Institutes in Africa are seen as the driving force in globalizing the African educational systems. The Confucius Institute goes to great lengths to enhance cultural understanding on the African continent. Each year, the Institute provides innovative programs that are helpful in strengthening relationships and harmonizing cultural differences. After the first Chinese Institute opened in 1995 at the University of Nairobi in Kenya, the Institute only offered a certificate program. The certificate program provided a variety of language-related courses focusing on Chinese history, economics, and tourism. Throughout the following years, the Kenya Institute offered additional programs, such as the career counseling services, student exchange programs, and cultural activities open to the public. After this year’s 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the demand for more Confucius Institutes has doubled. Presently, the Institute now offers a summer-intensive language camps for young people, who are encouraged to visit and explore China.

In the near future, it is predicted that the Confucius Institutes will have African students use the Second Life Island Services, which is a 3-D internet based virtual world tutorial program. This may be the first time African students will be exposed and educated to use avatars as a means of first-hand practical communication for Chinese lessons. The program allows African students to explore to different islands, where they can interact with different groups of people.

Confucius Institutes are also very active in local African communities. As a result, the Mandarin language is gaining popularity and many African local communities are experiencing extraordinary cultural changes. For instance, the city of Nairobi launched its first Chinese International radio stations; providing daily Chinese-speaking programs. In South Africa, the Confucius Institute hosts seasonal Chinese Musical Festivals to include Chinese book fairs and movie weeks. Also, the purchases of Chinesepod, a daily language podcast course, is one of the hottest learning commodities in South Africa. A growing number of South African businessmen are exclusively downloading Chinesepod for personal language lessons.

Consequently, the spread of the Confucius Institutes help to boost a mutual trust relationship between China and African countries. African students have publicly expressed their appreciation for this opportunity to attend the Confucius Institute in their own countries. Many of them believe that Confucius Institutes are a way to escape economic hardship by providing a competitive edge in the global job market. Since China maintains one of the world’s rapidly growing economies, African students deeply believe that becoming fluent in the Chinese language promises a brighter future. The advantage to learning Chinese will open doors for more job and educational opportunities. One success story is the first 2006 Kenyan Confucius Institute Graduate class at the University of Nairobi. A majority of graduate students were able to work in travel agencies, the oil industry, and telecommunications. Others earned student exchange scholarships to attend the University of Beijing.

One of the biggest challenges for this new milestone is whether the Chinese Ministry of Education can meet the growing demand for more Confucius Institutes in Africa. Inadequate funding limits the high demand to build more Institutes in Africa. During fiscal year 2007, the Ministry of Education allocated more than 300 million U.S. Dollars for accommodations, teaching recruitment, and learning material. However, Confucius Institutes only admit a small portion of students due to limitations in resources and a shortage of instructors. The Office of The Chinese Language Council intends to propagate the Confucius Institutes as much as possible throughout the world. By 2010, the Council would like to have at least 500 Confucius Institutes abroad.

Western criticism challenges the Confucius Institutes reputation. The global spread of Confucius Institutes raises competiveness. As African nations continue to lean toward the “look-east” policy for educational purposes, China’s growing soft power threatens United States and European efforts in Africa. Critics have accused the Confucius Institute of being an example of the Chinese Communist Party’s imperialist behavior that is trying to defeat Western culture by “brainwashing” African nations. China strongly believes that they are one that understands Africa better because they were also a society that was exploited by Western imperialism.

If the Chinese do have in mind to defeat the Western language, then the race against the European descendent languages still remains unavoidable in Africa. Despite the fact that the Chinese language has grown to the third most popular foreign language, the English and French language stand to be the strongest official foreign language in Africa. More than one-third of the continent speaks western languages as their official language. However, the Chinese language gained so much momentum during President George Bush’s administration. For the past eight years, the international relationship with Africa has somewhat weakened. Due to the war on terrorism, high level visits to Africa were cancelled and foreign aid has been reduced.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thousands of Liberians to be Deported Soon

There is a deep sense of anxiety these days in Liberian community all around the United States. About 10,000 Liberians could face deportation come march 31, this year when a temporary protection status that allows them to stay here expires unless President Obama or Congress intervenes. The U.S. government contends Liberia is now a stable country and these migrants should return home.
Liberians have lived in the U.S. since the early 1990’s under a temporary protected status. Now that the Liberian government is showing some signs of stabilization, the U.S. government is trying to lift the temporary protected status and deport many of the 20,000 Liberians who are now living in the U.S.

I watched in complete disbelief Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform on CNN talking about how "It is time for people to go back and rebuild their country,"He said for Liberians to stay when their country is at peace would be an abuse of U.S. hospitality.

"It makes a mockery of the concept of short-term temporary humanitarian protection." he went on to say.
I would like to point out to Mr Stein however,that the State department own travel advisory is warning Americans to avoid travel to the country, because of serious security concern. so my question is, if its not safe for Americans to go there, how is it safe for thousands of Liberians with their U.S born children, who are U.S citizens to go there?

Click to read more.


War Crimes? Sri Lanka Government Denies Aid to Citizens in a War Zone

Dear friends:

I am overcome by the following news from Sri Lanka that more than 100,000 of my people are sandwiched between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil militants.

It is a pity that we hear very little in our media about potential human tragedies of this magnitude.

Although not a poet, I have written this poem to express my feelings and to awaken the conscience of the international community.

Please pass this on to people who may be able to do something to save the lives of these innocent civilians. 

Tamil people and a Silent World

When their rights were being taken away, the world was silent.

When their land was being colonized, the world was silent.

When their protests were being ignored, the world was silent.

When their politicians were being expelled, the world was silent.

When their press was being crushed, the world was silent.

When their ladies were being raped, the world was silent.

When their loved ones were being abused, the world was silent.

When their leaders were being bought, the world was silent.

The world was willing speak only after matters reached the two extremes:

The world expressed their sorrow after their people were massacred in 1983.

The world expressed their anger after their youth spoke back with violence.

Of world, do you have eyes to see only the violence of their youth?

Don’t you have eyes to see the prejudice of their government?

Oh world, do you have ears to hear only the lie of their government?

Don't you have ears to hear the cry of the Tamil people?

Oh world, won’t you speak while the Sri Lankan Tamil people are still alive as a people group?

Do you have to wait for another massacre to break your silence?

Alex Thevaranjan

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Roland Burris Dilemma - State’s Rights v. Congressional Leader’s Preferences

By Syreeta L. McNeal, CPA, JD

Recently, there has been a stimulating debate over whether Illinois’s U. S. Senator designate, Roland Burris, is entitled to fill the Illinois Junior Senate seat after embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s appointment on December 30, 2008. Majority Senate Leader, Harry Reid, is stating that Illinois Governor Blagojevich’s appointment is tainted and is not valid because of Blagojevich’s recent arrest and federal complaint brought by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). With all due respect to the Honorable Harry Reid, his argument is more political than legal and shows his preferences in trying to determine the outcome of who should fill the Illinois Senate seat. Unfortunately, Senate Majority Leader Reid, who is a lawyer, should know that Burris is legally entitled to be seated as a U. S. Senator from the state of Illinois.

U. S. Constitution Denotes Senate Appointments as a State Right

The U. S. Constitution denotes the senate appointment after a vacancy as a specific state right not one to be manipulated by congressional leaders. The specific constitutional provision that addresses the replacement of vacancies in the U. S. Senate is the 17th Amendment of the U. S. Constitution. 17th Amendment, Clause 2 states “When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, that the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.”[1] This provision is important because it specifically grants the authority of senate appointments after vacancies in the hands of the states, not Congress.

Amendment XVII has backing because of another constitutional provision, Article V. Article V of the U. S. Constitution states “….Amendments…. shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures…. or by Conventions.”[2] The importance of Article V is that its gives the Amendments equal weight of importance to the Articles of the Constitution. Therefore, if an Amendment is ratified and specifically changes or narrows the scope of another provision in the Constitution, then the effect of any Amendment is binding as part of the Constitution.

An example of how Article V of the U. S. Constitution works is with the phrase “three fifths of all other persons” as mentioned in Article I.[3] In colonial times, three fifths of all other persons meant black slaves. What the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments did was to remove the impact of blacks being classified as three fifths of a person. The same logic applies with 17th Amendment by it specifically tailoring the senate appointment after vacancies to be done by the states.

For Burris, Illinois Governor Blagojevich was still the formal governor of the state of Illinois on December 30, 2008. The Illinois legislature did not remove Blagojevich prior to the Burris appointment nor change the Illinois Constitution to allow a special election to determine the U. S. Senator appointment after the vacancy. Also, Illinois Governor Blagojevich did not resign his post. So, the Burris appointment is valid under the 17th Amendment of the U. S. Constitution.

Courts will likely Validate the Burris Appointment

For those students entering law school, you will likely get bombarded with the 1803 U. S. Supreme Court case, Marbury v. Madison, in Constitutional Law.[4] Well, the Burris appointment has legal backing because of this case. To summarize the facts of the case, outgoing President John Adams appointed William Marbury as justice of the peace for the District of Columbia.[5] President Adams signed the commission letter and affixed the seal of the U. S. Presidency and delivered it to Secretary of State James Madison for delivery.[6] With incoming President William Jefferson, Secretary of State Madison refused to deliver the commission letter of appointment to Marbury and as a result Marbury commenced a writ of mandamus to compel Secretary of State Madison to deliver President Adams’ commission letter for the appointment.[7]

The Supreme Court held that the appointment by President Adams and his signature on the commission letter is all that was needed to validate the appointment of Marbury as justice of the peace for the District of Columbia.[8] Also, the Court held that “with commission being signed, the subsequent duty of the secretary of state is prescribed by law, and not to be guided by the will of the president. He is to affix the seal of the United States to the commission, and is to record it.”[9]

Now, Marbury v. Madison is still good law. To follow the same logic as presented in the Burris appointment, Illinois Governor Blagojevich appointed Burris and signed the commission letter for the appointment. This is all that was needed to validate the act. The Illinois State Supreme Court has already ruled that the Burris appointment is valid and neither Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White nor any other state official is needed to certify the Burris appointment.[10] The U. S. Supreme Court, applying Marbury v. Madison, will likely uphold the Burris appointment to the Illinois Senate seat as well.

Similar to Secretary of State Madison, Majority Senate Leader Harry Reid is using games to delay or ignore the legal Burris appointment by keeping Burris out of the Senate swearing in ceremony due to the fact that he does not have the signature of the Illinois Secretary of State. However, any lawyer should know that this gamesmanship tactic will be to no avail because Burris has U. S. Supreme Court case law in Marbury v. Madison and the 17th Amendment of the U. S. Constitution to validate his Illinois Senate seat appointment.

Legal Disclaimer: This site provides information about the law designed to keep readers informed of pertinent legal matters affecting the African-American community. But legal information is not the same as legal advice -- the application of law to an individual's specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer in your specific location if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.

[1] U.S. Const. amend. XVII, cl. 2.
[2] U.S. Const. art. V.
[3] U.S. Const. art. I, § 2, cl. 3.
[4] See Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803).
[5] Id. at 138.
[6] Id.
[7] Id.
[8] Id. at 157.
[9] Id. at 158.