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Namibia, in southwest Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a high rate of AIDS and many of its 2.1 million people living on less than $1 a day. But it may be leading the world in showing a way to end hunger and poverty.
The German magazine Der Spiegel has an article about the remarkable successes of a Basic Income Grant experiment in the village of Otjivero. I’ve been following the program since shortly after it began in January 2008, and I contributed money to help fund it. It’s scheduled to run through the end of this year, and the organizers hope it will become a model for the nation, the continent, and the world.
With its Record of Rape, Don’t Send the U.S. Military to the Congo to Give “Sensitivity” Training to the Congolese Military
With its Record of Rape, Don’t Send the U.S. Military to the Congo to Give “Sensitivity” Training to the Congolese Military!
By Ann Wright, US Army Reserves Colonel, Retired
On Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s August, 2009 trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), she announced $17 million in new funding in the U.S. Government’s contribution to international efforts to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence in the DRC.
200,000 Women and Girls Raped in the DRC Congo
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the coordinating agency for work on sexual violence in Congo, estimates that 200,000 women and girls have been the victims of sexual violence since 1998. In 2008, UNFPA recorded that nearly 16,000 women and girls had been raped in the Congo. 65 percent of the victims were children, mostly adolescent girls.
"Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union," by David Swanson is due in stores September 1st, but the publisher has it now and you can get it straight from Seven Stories Press.
When he travels abroad, Barack Obama is the consummate pitchman. He tells stories, he cracks jokes, he delivers mini-lectures with a light touch — all in the service of selling product. It's not an easy job. Imagine trying to sell GM cars after Ralph Nader's attack on its Corvair in the 1960s, or shilling for Nestlé after the infant formula boycott of the 1970s and 1980s. Obama's product — America — has taken a beating in the marketplace over the last eight years or so. The president has to do some serious rebranding.
Like any good ad-man, Obama does two things. He makes the audience feel good. But the people listening to him must also feel that something is missing in their lives, something that only Obama and his product can give them. If I get his product, the potential consumer thinks, perhaps I'll be as young, handsome, talented, and powerful as he is.
In his address over the weekend to the Ghanaian parliament, the president was careful to emphasize that "Africa's future is up to Africans." The United States is all about respecting self-determination. "America will not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation," he intoned. "The essential truth of democracy is that each nation determines its own destiny."
We're not telling you what to do, Obama insisted. But still, you have to get rid of your dictators, your corruption, and your bloody conflicts. And boy, do we have just the product for you!
Obama didn't "apologize for the CIA's role in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Ghanaian leader Kwame Nkrumah in 1966 to satisfy Cold War strategic interests," as Foreign Policy In Focus contributor Charles Abugre recommended in What Obama Should Say in Africa. "While he's at it," Abugre writes, "he should apologize for the role the CIA played in removing Patrice Lumumba from power in 1960 and the resulting mess that is today's Democratic Republic of the Congo."
Obama saw no need to apologize for past product defects. He's not peddling the ugly old empire that tortured people at the Guantánamo detention facility and the Abu Ghraib prison, meddled in elections past, and is embroiled in its own bloody and expensive conflicts. It's Empire 2.0.
Well, of course, he didn't say "empire." That's what rebranding is all about. Consider what the president had to say about one of the new services that Empire 2.0 offers: the Pentagon's new U.S. African Command (AFRICOM). "Our Africa Command is focused not on establishing a foothold in the continent, but on confronting these common challenges to advance the security of America, Africa, and the world," Obama said.
Partnership sounds nice. But as FPIF contributor Gerald LeMelle argues in Revealing the Real Africa Policy, the administration's Africa agenda make "no reference to the recent FY 2010 budget that doubles the size of AFRICOM's funds. Nor does it mention the doubling of financial support for counterterrorism projects throughout the continent — including increasing funds for weapons, military training, and education at a time when U.S. foreign aid money is stagnating." Read more.
Because we must have principles.
A team of journalists investigating the global electronic waste business has unearthed a security problem too. In a Ghana market, they bought a computer hard drive containing sensitive documents belonging to U.S. government contractor Northrop Grumman.
The drive had belonged to a Fairfax, Virginia, employee who still works for the company and contained "hundreds and hundreds of documents about government contracts," said Peter Klein, an associate professor with the University of British Columbia, who led the investigation for the Public Broadcasting Service show Frontline. He would not disclose details of the documents, but he said that they were marked "competitive sensitive" and covered company contracts with the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Transportation Security Agency.
The data was unencrypted, Klein said in an interview. The cost? US$40.
Northrop Grumman is not sure how the drive ended up in a Ghana market, but apparently the company had hired an outside vendor to dispose of the PC. "Based on the documents we were shown, we believe this hard drive may have been stolen after one of our asset-disposal vendors took possession of the unit," the Northrop Grumman said in a statement. "Despite sophisticated safeguards, no company can inoculate itself completely against crime." Read more.
AMID THE media frenzy and speculation over the disappearance of Air France's ill-fated Flight 447, the loss of two of the world's most prominent figures in the war on the illegal arms trade and international drug trafficking has been virtually overlooked.
Pablo Dreyfus, a 39-year-old Argentine who was travelling with his wife Ana Carolina Rodrigues aboard the doomed flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, had worked tirelessly with the Brazilian authorities to stem the flow of arms and ammunition that for years has fuelled the bloody turf wars waged by drug gangs in Rio's sprawling favelas.
Also travelling with Dreyfus on the doomed flight was his friend and colleague Ronald Dreyer, a Swiss diplomat and co-ordinator of the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence who had worked with UN missions in El Salvador, Mozambique, Azerbaijan, Kosovo and Angola. Both men were consultants at the Small Arms Survey, an independent think tank based at Geneva's Graduate Institute of International Studies. The Survey said on its website that Dryer had helped mobilise the support of more than 100 countries to the cause of disarmament and development....
Dreyfus and Dreyer were on their way to Geneva to present the latest edition of the Small Arms Survey handbook, of which Dreyfus was a joint editor. It was to have been their latest step in their relentless fight against evil. Read more.
Five members of Congress were arrested outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington Monday as they demonstrated against the situation in Darfur.
Hundreds of thousands of people have died in Darfur in western Sudan in what the U.S. State Department has described as genocide.
More than 100 people were arrested during a series of demonstrations in Washington yesterday, including five members of Congress who were part of a group that gathered outside the Sudanese Embassy to condemn the expulsion of aid agencies from Darfur.
All told, police squared off with demonstrators at three unrelated protests that began in the morning and continued into the afternoon. Eight people were arrested outside the embassy, seven Greenpeace activists were arrested near the State Department, and 91 others were arrested during a demonstration by disability rights advocates outside the White House.
The activities followed a weekend of other protests connected to the meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Yesterday began with a show of civil disobedience that snarled rush-hour traffic as seven Greenpeace activists scaled a construction crane at 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue NW, near the State Department, and unfurled a huge banner to call attention to global warming. The crane was on the site of a future institute for peace.
Sometimes, it seems as if all U.S. global geopolitics boils down to little more than a war for money within the Pentagon. In the best of times, each armed service still has to continually maintain and upgrade its various raisons d'être for the billions of dollars being poured into it; each has to fight -- something far more difficult in economic hard times -- to maintain or increase its share of the budgetary pie. The remarkable thing is that we are now in the worst of economic times and yet, for one more year, the Pentagon can still pretend that it just ain't so. After eight years in which the Bush administration broke the bank militarily, an already vastly bloated Pentagon budget will miraculously rise once more, even if by a relatively modest 4%, in the coming fiscal year. But don't for a second think that the Army, Air Force, Marines, and Navy aren't already scrambling for toeholds suitable for a more precarious future.
Our unchallenged imperial Navy rules the sea lanes of the planet. Its 11 aircraft carrier battle groups, those vast water-borne military bases, roam the oceans of the world without opposition. But there's a problem. Right now, as John Feffer, co-director of the invaluable website Foreign Policy In Focus and TomDispatch regular, points out below, the American war of note is on the ground in (and in the air over) the Af-Pak theater of operations, which leaves the Navy scrambling for meaning -- that is, future money.
By Johann Hari, San Francisco Bay View
Who imagined that in 2009, the world’s governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy - backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the U.S. to China - is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth.
A US ship, owned by a Pentagon contractor with ‘Top Security’ Clearance, was seized off the Somali coast. Reports say the US crew has retaken the ship. But the question remains: Why are the pirates attacking?
In a move sure to stoke a diplomatic frenzy, the United Arab Emirates, with U.S. interests, may be the first Arab state with a civilian nuclear-energy program.
U.S. President George W. Bush signed a treaty with the United Arab Emirates during his last week in office to give American companies the opportunity to enter into nuclear trade relations in the Emirates, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The United Arab Emirates would purchase nuclear fuel from approved contractors for the facility rather than rely on controversial autonomous uranium enrichment.
Washington sees the United Arab Emirates deal as a model of nuclear energy in the Gulf region and could put legislation before Congress as early as next week, the Journal reports.
The Darfur the West Isn’t Recognizing as It Moralizes About the Region
By Howard W. French | NYTimes | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
For many who survey an African landscape strewn with political wreckage, nowadays merely to raise the subject of European colonialism, which formally ended across most of the continent five decades ago, is to ring alarm bells of excuse making.
Clearly, the African disaster most in view today is Sudan, or more specifically the dirty war that has raged since 2003 in that country’s western region, Darfur.
Keep in mind that despite all the hand-wringing about the disaster, there are no nations -- other than those of the AU -- that are going to deploy troops there. And you can forget about the United States. If it did not do it when Colin L. Powell, as the U.S. secretary of state, called the conflict genocide, it is not going to do it now, at a time when the United States is sending more troops to Afghanistan.
The International Criminal Court issued a warrant on March 4 for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Among other things, he is suspected of "intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan, murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians and pillaging their property."
As a result, Bashir halted the work of relief organizations operating primarily in Darfur, leaving more than 1 million people without food, medical care or drinking water.
On February 12, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told Congress that the global economic crisis was the most serious security challenge facing the United States and that it could topple governments and trigger waves of refugees, the Los Angeles Times reported.
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Archbishop Desmond Tutu warned Thursday that President Obama risked squandering good will from around the world if he failed to take concrete steps like apologizing for the Iraq war. Archbishop Tutu, 77, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the retired archbishop of Cape Town, also urged Mr. Obama to support the International Criminal Court and “come down hard” on African dictators. He wrote in an article for the BBC’s Web site that the high hopes surrounding Mr. Obama’s presidency could turn sour. Mr. Obama “could easily squander the good will that his election generated if he disappoints,” Archbishop Tutu wrote. “It would be wonderful if, on behalf of the nation, Obama apologizes to the world, and especially the Iraqis, for an invasion that I believe has turned out to be an unmitigated disaster.”
Co-authored by Linda Milazzo and Georgianne Nienaber
To: The Honorable Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, Washington, DC 20520
To: The Honorable Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the United Nations, United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017
Dear Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice,
The humanitarian situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is disintegrating and it is time for the United States to intervene publicly and forcefully. According to report after report from human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), the violence is escalating, and the United Nations does not have enough peacekeeping troops to contain the violence. Already more innocents have died than in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The world cannot say again that it had no idea of the scope of this disaster. Rwanda can no longer be given a free pass because of its suffering during the genocide, and Rwandan President Paul Kagame must be held accountable for the alliance he has formed with Congolese President Joseph Kabila who is turning a blind eye to the crimes committed against innocent Hutu civilians in eastern Congo.
In an urgent communiqué to independent media, the Congolese National Congress for the Defense of the People (French acronym, CNDP), is asking to meet with you precipitously regarding the Rwandan government’s unwarranted detention of CNDP leader, General Laurent Nkunda, and the corresponding increase in massacres of Congolese civilians since his January 22nd arrest. As documented by Human Rights Watch on February 13, 2009:
by Linda Milazzo
I don't believe in god. I never have. I don't believe in religions. I study them, but I don't practice them. I try to understand them to be sensitive to the beliefs and traditions of others, and to attempt to appreciate the motivations behind religious thought and deed. But they are irrelevant to living my life.
Long ago as a freshman at CUNY's Queens College I was introduced to Taoism. Taoism began in ancient China as a religion, then morphed into a dogma free/deity free philosophy. Since my late teens I've tried hard to apply MY understanding of my Tao to my life. I have the freedom to choose my own path and not judge the paths of others. But since I have freedom of opinion, I fall prey to judge. I try not to. But I do.
Through the Tao, I'm both a peacemaker and a warrior since Taoism couples with the art of self-defense. I understand my right to protect myself when needed, and to protect the defenseless when they need me. Since I'm by nature protective, it suits my sensibilities to aid the weak, where I fancy myself absurdly as inordinately strong.
ITALIA-USA: FRATTINI SU AFRICOM, A NAPOLI E VICENZA NO
Bruxelles, 2 dic. - (Adnkronos/Aki) - "Ci sono quattro componenti di Africom, di cui due saranno ospitate in Italia, una a Vicenza e l'altra a Napoli". Lo ha detto il ministro degli Esteri Franco Frattini, in una conferenza stampa a Bruxelles, confermando quanto scritto dall'ADNKRONOS e precisando che "non ci sono truppe americane assegnate su base permanente a queste componenti". "Si tratta di strutture di comando che operano nel quadro della Nato", ha aggiunto il titolare della Farnesina, sottolineando come "evidentemente questo sia stato fatto dopo aver informato anche i paesi africani che hanno espresso grande supporto a questa decisione". "Domani - ha concluso Frattini - daremo qualche dettaglio in piu' in una conferenza stampa con l'ambasciatore americano a Roma Ronald Spogli, che e' stato delegato dal segretario di Stato Condoleezza Rice ad occuparsi di questa cosa".
Note that the Italian people were already a bit less than thrilled with the idea of a massive new base in Vicenza.