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Somali refugees recruited to fight Islamist militia
By Sudarsan Raghavan | Washington Post | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
The U.S.-backed government of Somalia and its Kenyan allies have recruited hundreds of Somali refugees, including children, to fight in a war against al-Shabab, an Islamist militia linked to al-Qaeda, according to former recruits, their relatives and community leaders.
Many of the recruits were taken from the sprawling Dadaab refugee camps in northeastern Kenya, which borders Somalia. Somali government recruiters and Kenyan soldiers came to the camps late last year, promising refugees as much as $600 a month to join a force advertised as supported by the United Nations or the United States, the former recruits and their families said.
"They have stolen my son from me," said Noor Muhamed, 70, a paraplegic refugee whose son Abdi was recruited.
Across this region, children and young men are vanishing. All sides in Somalia's conflict are recruiting refugees to fight in a remote battleground in the global war on terrorism from which they fled, community leaders say. Read more.
When Pres. Barack Obama took office in January 2009, it was widely expected that he would dramatically change, or even reverse, the militarised and unilateral security policy that had been pursued by the George W. Bush administration toward Africa, as well as toward other parts of the world.
After one year in office, however, it is clear that the Obama administration is following essentially the same policy that has guided U.S. military policy toward Africa for more than a decade. Indeed, the Obama administration is seeking to expand U.S. military activities on the continent even further.
In its FY 2011 budget request for security assistance programmes for Africa, the Obama administration is asking for 38 million dollars for the Foreign Military Financing programme to pay for U.S. arms sales to African countries.
The administration is also asking for 21 million dollars for the International Military Education and Training Programme to bring African military officers to the United States, and 24.4 million dollars for Anti-Terrorism Assistance programmes in Africa.
The Obama administration has also taken a number of other steps to expand U.S. military involvement in Africa. Read more.
The Pentagon is considering dispatching surveillance drones and other limited military support for a Somali government offensive against al-Qaida-linked insurgents, U.S. officials said, part of a cautious move to increase U.S. assistance to the anarchic African nation.
U.S. diplomats are pressing Somali leaders to detail the goals of the looming assault, in order to figure out the most appropriate ways the U.S. can help.
Determined to avoid a visible American footprint on the ground or fingerprints on Somalia's shaky government, U.S. officials are struggling to find the right balance between seizing the opportunity to take out al-Qaida insurgents there and avoiding the appearance of a U.S. occupation.
Any U.S. moves in Somalia are haunted by the disastrous 1993 U.S. military assault into the Somali capital — made famous in the book and movie "Black Hawk Down." The strike left 18 U.S. soldiers dead. Read more.
A December rampage that killed hundreds in the Democratic Republic of Congo went largely unreported because of lack of communications in the remote area, a United Nations official said Sunday.
The Lord's Resistance Army carried out the brutal campaign in northeastern Congo over four days, killing at least 321, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.
Rebels also abducted 250 others -- including at least 80 children -- when they attacked villages in Makombo area, the human rights group said Saturday.
Alan Doss, a United Nations Special Representative for Congo, confirmed the massacre and said the world body was made aware of the attacks in December and confirmed some deaths in January.
"The area is remote, there's no intelligence or communications, we had to cross check," Doss said. Read more.
The world's oldest extant military bloc (formed 61 years ago) and the largest in history (twenty eight full members and as many partners on five continents), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, counts among its major member states all of Africa's former colonial powers: Britain, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany and Belgium.
After World War II and the groundswell of anti-colonial sentiment throughout Africa and Asia, the European powers were forced to withdraw from most of the African continent, though Portugal retained its possessions until the 1970s.
Most new African nations adopted some model of socialist-oriented economic and political development and the continent as a whole more closely aligned itself with the Soviet Union, which moreover had for decades supported the anti-colonial struggles in Africa, than with the West, both Western Europe and the United States.
With the end of the Cold War and the breakup of the Soviet Union nearly twenty years ago, the major Western powers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, united under the aegis of NATO, saw that as with the Balkans and the former republics of the Soviet Union itself, Africa was now wide open for penetration and domination.
Over 43 people have been killed in the Somali capital of Mogadishu in the past two days in fighting between Shabab (al-Shabaab) insurgent forces, who on March 10 advanced to within one mile of the nation's presidential palace, and troops of the U.S.-backed Transitional Federal Government. The fighting has just begun.
The last ambassador of the United States to Somalia (1994-1995), Daniel H. Simpson, penned a column for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on March 10 in which which he posed the question "why, apart from the only lightly documented charge of Islamic extremism among the Shabab, is the United States reengaging in Somalia at this time?"
He answered it in stating "Part of the reason is because the United States has its only base in Africa up the coast from Mogadishu, in Djibouti, the former French Somaliland. The U.S. Africa Command was established there in 2008, and, absent the willingness of other African countries to host it, the base in Djibouti became the headquarters for U.S. troops and fighter bombers in Africa.
"Flush with money, in spite of the expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Defense obviously feels itself in a position to undertake military action in Africa, in Somalia." 
Fulfilling its appointed role, the New York Times leaked U.S. military plans for the current offensive in Somalia on March 5 in a report titled "U.S. Aiding Somalia in Its Plan to Retake Its Capital." (Note that the Transitional Federal Government is presented as Somalia itself and Mogadishu as its capital.)
...hiring Ugandans is cheap. Since the first Ugandans were sent to Iraq in late 2005, competition from other developing countries in Africa and the Indian subcontinent has seen the government cut the minimum wage from $1,300 to $600 a month. That compares with the $15,000 that one industry insider estimated an American guard could make each month. Nevertheless, competition is fierce, and for those Ugandans who land a job, Iraq can prove a bonanza.
Under a relentless equatorial sun and the gaze of her Zimbabwean instructor, Juliet Kituye quickly reassembles her AK-47. Next to her, a young man in a ripped red T-shirt discharges imaginary rounds at an invisible target.
On a disused soccer pitch in the suburbs of the Ugandan capital, Kampala, 300 hopefuls are being put through rudimentary firearms training. Many of the recruits are raw and their drills occasionally lurch towards slapstick. One trainee lets the magazine slip out of his automatic rifle and onto the red earth, someone else about turns right instead of left. All of them share the same dream, however: going to Iraq.
As President Barack Obama announces plans to withdraw US troops from Iraq, thousands of young Ugandans are increasingly desperate to be sent to the war-torn country. Already, the Ugandan government says there are more than 10,000 men and women from this poverty-stricken East African nation working as private security guards in Iraq. Hired out to multibillion-dollar companies for hundreds of dollars a month, they risk their lives seeking fortunes protecting US Army bases, airports, and oil firms. Read more.
Daytona Beach, Tomorrow Night! Milestone: 1,000 Americans KIA In Afghanisan Action: "Stop The Wars Now!"
We've reached a sad milestone in Afghanistan. Today, Monday, February 22, 2010, it was reported that 1,000 U.S. Troops have now been killed in action (KIA) in Afghanistan. The name of the soldier and other details, other than being killed by an improvised explosive devise (IED), have yet to be released. For more information about troops killed in both Afghanistan and Iraq, go to www.icasualties.org on line.
To recognize the 1,000th KIA in Afghanistan and to say "enough" to continued killing there due to the 9-year U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, there will be an Emergency Antiwar Protest in Daytona Beach tomorrow evening, Tuesday February 23rd, beginning at 6:00 PM and ending at 8:00 PM on the Northwest corner of Nova Road and International Speedway Boulevard in front of the Steak N Shake. The street address is 1000 W. International Speedway Blvd, Daytona Beach, FL 32114 and directions can be found on line here.
This event is being billed as "Afghanistan - 1,000 KIA - Enough Already, Bring Them Home Now!".
There will be TV and Print News Media on site reporting on the event.
This event will not be a vigil, but rather a spirited demand that our government Stop The Wars Now!
Attendees are asked to bring signs such as those suggested in the notice.
For more information click "Read more." Click "File attachment" for flyer.
For more details, please see the Media Alert in the attached flyer or contact Phil Restino of Central Florida Veterans For Peace (VFP Chapter 136), cell: (386) 235-3268, hm: (386) 788-2918, email: CentralFlaVFP@aol.com. Thank you.
ScienceDaily (Feb. 15, 2010) — Despite good intentions, the push to privatize government functions and insistence upon "free trade" that is too often unfair has caused declining food production, increased poverty and a hunger crisis for millions of people in many African nations, researchers conclude in a new study.
Market reforms that began in the mid-1980s and were supposed to aid economic growth have actually backfired in some of the poorest nations in the world, and just in recent years led to multiple food riots, scientists report Feb 15 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
AFRICAN revolutionaries now have to sleep with one eye open because the United States of America is not stopping at anything in its bid to establish Africom, a highly-equipped US army that will be permanently resident in Africa to oversee the country's imperialist interests.
Towards the end of last year, the US government intensified its efforts to bring a permanent army to settle in Africa, dubbed the African Command (Africom) as a latest tool for the subtle recolonisation of Africa.
Just before end of last year, General William E. Garret, Commander US Army for Africa, met with defence attaches from all African embassies in Washington to lure them into selling the idea of an American army based in Africa to their governments.
Latest reports from the White House this January indicate that 75 percent of the army's establishment work has been done through a military unit based in Stuttgart, Germany, and that what is left is to get an African country to host the army and get things moving. Read more.
By Linda Milazzo
Los Angeles gets a bad rap. It's assailed for being shallow and rarely acknowledged for its good heart. But Los Angeles has a huge heart - at the center of which is pulsating non-stop activism dedicated to ensuring all people are granted human rights. Just name any of the 30 human rights designated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and I guarantee you there are groups and individuals in Los Angeles who are working to enforce them - locally, nationally and globally.
The U.S. (and Britain) began bombing the Afghan capital of Kabul on October 7, 2001 with Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from warships and submarines and bombs dropped from warplanes and shortly thereafter American special forces began ground operations, a task that has been conducted since by regular Army and Marine units. The bombing and the ground combat operations continue more than eight years later and both will be intensified to record levels in short order.
The combined U.S. and NATO forces would represent a staggering number, in excess of 150,000 soldiers. By way of comparison, as of September of this year there were approximately 120,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and only a small handful of other nations' personnel, those assigned to the NATO Training Mission - Iraq, remaining with them.
"Secretary Gates has made clear that the conflicts we're in should be at the very forefront of our agenda. He wants to make sure we're not giving up capabilities needed now for those needed for some unknown future conflict. He wants to make sure the Pentagon is truly on war footing....For the first time in decades, the political and economic stars are aligned for a fundamental overhaul of the way the Pentagon does business."
Over the past ten years citizens of the United States and other Western nations, and unfortunately most of the world, have become accustomed to Washington and its military allies in Europe and those appointed as armed outposts on the periphery of the "Euro-Atlantic community" engaging in armed aggression around the world.
Wars against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq and lower profile military operations and surrogate campaigns in nations as diverse as Colombia, Yemen, the Philippines, Ivory Coast, Somalia, Chad, the Central African Republic, South Ossetia and elsewhere have become an unquestioned prerogative of the U.S. and its NATO partners. So much so that many have forgotten to consider how comparable actions have been or might be viewed if a non-Western nation attempted them.
AFRICOM Year Two: Taking The Helm Of The Entire World
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site
"The developments come as the White House seeks grounds to establish a major military presence in Africa....[A]nalysts caution that similar pretexts were used to justify the US invasion of Afghanistan, the missile attacks in Pakistan, and its waning military operations in Iraq, where the civilian population continues to bear the brunt of the US intervention."
"AFRICOM facilitates the United States advancing on the African continent, taking control of the Eurasian continent and proceeding to take the helm of the entire globe."
October 1st marked the one-year anniversary of the activation of the first U.S. overseas military command in a quarter of a century, Africa Command (AFRICOM).
AFRICOM was established as a temporary command under the wing of U.S. European Command (EUCOM) a year earlier and launched as an independent entity on October 1, 2008.
Its creation signalled several important milestones in plans by the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies to expand into all corners of the earth and to achieve military, political and economic hegemony in the Southern as well as the Northern Hemisphere.
If, as Alice Walker reminds us in her new book, “hard times require furious dancing”, David Alan Harris knows the hard times and the furious dancing. For the young men and boys he encountered in Sierra Leone, he provided warmth and the container for fury, through a process called Dance/Movement Therapy.
Harris will share stories of the boys he worked with in a keynote address as a part of the University of Maryland’s Semester on Peace:
Atrocities, Resilience, and Healing:
Peace-Building Lessons from African Child Soldiers
Wednesday October 14, 2009
Stamp Student Union, Colony Ballroom
University of Maryland, College Park
Join him as he inspires us all to dance with each other, and join us afterwards at the UMUC Marriott Inn and Conference Center to put all of our energy to music, in a celebration of resilience and healing!
Oldest human skeleton offers new clues to evolution By By Azadeh Ansari | CNN
The oldest-known hominid skeleton was a 4-foot-tall female who walked upright more than 4 million years ago and offers new clues to how humans may have evolved, scientists say.
Scientists believe that the fossilized remains, which were discovered in 1994 in Ethiopia and studied for years by an international team of researchers, support beliefs that humans and chimpanzees evolved separately from a common ancestor.
"This is not an ordinary fossil. It's not a chimp. It's not a human. It shows us what we used to be," said project co-director Tim White, a paleontologist at the University of California, Berkeley.
Ardipithecus ramidus, nicknamed "Ardi," is a hominid species that lived 4.4 million years ago in what is now Aramis, Ethiopia. That makes Ardi more than a million years older than the celebrated Lucy, the partial ape-human skeleton found in Africa in 1974.
Ardi's 125-piece skeleton includes the skull, teeth, pelvis, hands and feet bones. Scientists say the data collected from Ardi's bone fragments over the past 17 years push back the story of human evolution further than previously believed.
"In fact, what Ardipithecus tells us is that we as humans have been evolving to what we are today for at least 6 million years," C. Owen Lovejoy, an evolutionary biologist at Kent State University and project anatomist, said Thursday.
Analysis of Ardi's skeleton reveals that she weighed about 110 pounds, had very long arms and fingers, and possessed an opposable big toe that would have helped her grasp branches while moving through trees. Read more.
U.S. Supreme Court to Review Human Rights Case Against Former Somali DEFENSE MINISTER
Somali Defense Minister Seeks to Evade Accountability for Atrocities;
Survivors Continue to Seek Their Day in Court
Washington, D.C., September 30, 2009: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review the first human rights case ever filed addressing human rights abuses committed in Somalia during the brutal Siad Barre regime. The key issue under review is whether the defendant in the case, Fairfax Virginia resident and former Somali General and Defense Minister Mohammed Ali Samantar, is immune from civil suit in the U.S. for human rights abuses committed in Somalia. No person has ever been held legally responsible for the abuses committed by the military government against the civilian population of Somalia in the 1980s.
The Defense Intelligence Agency and its contractors conclude that a nuclear test was conducted jointly by South Africa and Israel.
An ad hoc presidential panel contradicts that analysis and suggests a meteoroid struck the satellite causing it to sound a false alarm.
Which was it? What should've been the U.S. response? Can you decide?
But perhaps the questions we should really be deciding is does Iran have nuclear weapons; and if so, should the U.S. attack Iran and North Korea”.
DC Preps for Exotic Evening of Dance, Art and Music Benefiting the International Lifeline Fund Thurs. 9/24, RSVP Now!
The International Lifeline Fund is a non-profit humanitarian relief organization based in Washington, D.C. In the three short years since it became operational in 2006, this cutting edge organization that has found ways to dramatically reduce human misery and environmental destruction at remarkably low cost. In an effort to get the most bang out of every buck, Lifeline has been promoting cost-effective technologies and self-sustaining programs, which give vulnerable individuals the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty and become productive members of their societies.
Lifeline’s signature initiative involves the promotion of sustainable fuel technologies in regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, which, in the past two decades, have lost approximately one-third of their forest cover. Literally half of this loss is attributable to cooking on an open fire – a method that is extremely hazardous to human health and that retards the living standards of women who must spend countless hours collecting wood. In an effort to address these and other problems associated with open fire cooking, Lifeline has provided some 50,000 fuel-efficient clay stoves to women who have been displaced by violence in Somalia, Darfur, Burundi and Northern Uganda. At a cost of as little as $2 each, these stoves have profoundly improved the lives of scores of thousands and slowed the pace of deforestation by greatly reducing the amount of wood needed for cooking.
Shareholders urged NOT to protest genocide
By Catherine Danielson
Here's a story I doubt you will hear all about anywhere else...
American Funds is one of the largest families of investment funds ($700 billion), owned by Capital Group Companies, a huge group of investment management companies. There was a shareholder proposal made recently requesting the board to "institute procedures to prevent holding investments in companies that, in the judgment of the board, substantially contribute to genocide or crimes against humanity, the most egrigious violations of human rights."
I'm a shareholder in American Funds, so I received the proxy letter requiring me to vote on a number of proposals for the upcoming board meeting (on October 27th in LA). First, there was a list of very boring-sounding proposals about electing trustees, updating this, approving that, blah blah blah. The shareholder proposal request came LAST, and it was #8. What came FIRST was this:
AFRICOM: Pentagon's First Direct Military Intervention In Africa
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO
The 2009 World Population Data Sheet published by the Washington, DC-based Population Reference Bureau states that the population of the African continent has surpassed one billion. Africans now account for over a seventh of the human race.
Africa's 53 nations are 28% of the 192 countries in the world.
The size and location of the continent along with its human and natural resources - oil, natural gas, gold, diamonds, uranium, cobalt, chromium, platinum, timber, cotton, food products - make it an increasingly important part of a world that is daily becoming more integrated and interdependent.
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.