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.


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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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