Monday, June 26, 2017

Supreme Court Breathes New Life Into Trump's Travel Ban
By Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung
WASHINGTON
Reuters

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to President Donald Trump by reviving parts of a travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries that he said is needed for national security but that opponents decry as discriminatory.

The justices narrowed the scope of lower court rulings that had completely blocked key parts of a March 6 executive order that Trump had said was needed to prevent terrorism in the United States, allowing his temporary ban to go into effect for people with no strong ties such as family or business to the United States. [tmsnrt.rs/2seb3bb]

The court issued its order on the last day of its current term and agreed to hear oral arguments during its next term starting in October so it can decide finally whether the ban is lawful in a major test of presidential powers.

In a statement, Trump called the high court's action "a clear victory for our national security," saying the justices allowed the travel suspension to become largely effective.

"As president, I cannot allow people into our country who want to do us harm. I want people who can love the United States and all of its citizens, and who will be hardworking and productive," Trump added.

Trump's March 6 order called for a blanket 90-day ban on people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a 120-day ban on all refugees while the government implemented stronger vetting procedures. The court allowed a limited version of the refugee ban, which had also been blocked by courts, to go into effect.

Trump issued the order amid rising international concern about attacks carried out by Islamist militants like those in Paris, London, Brussels, Berlin and other cities. But challengers said no one from the affected countries had carried out attacks in the United States.

Federal courts said the travel ban violated federal immigration law and was discriminatory against Muslims in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Critics called it a discriminatory "Muslim ban."

Ahmed al-Nasi, an official in Yemen’s Ministry of Expatriate Affairs, voiced disappointment.

"We believe it will not help in confronting terrorism and extremism, but rather will increase the feeling among the nationals of these countries that they are all being targeted, especially given that Yemen is an active partner of the United States in the war on terrorism and that there are joint operations against terrorist elements in Yemen," he said.

Groups that challenged the ban, including the American Civil Liberties Union, said that most people from the affected countries seeking entry to the United States would have the required connections. But they voiced concern the administration would interpret the ban as broadly as it could.

"It's going to be very important for us over this intervening period to make sure the government abides by the terms of the order and does not try to use it as a back door into implementing the full-scale Muslim ban that it's been seeking to implement," said Omar Jadwat, an ACLU lawyer.

During the 2016 presidential race, Trump campaigned for "a total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the United States. The travel ban was a signature policy of Trump's first few months as president.

'BONA FIDE RELATIONSHIP'

In an unusual unsigned decision, the Supreme Court on Monday said the travel ban will go into effect "with respect to foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States."

A lack of a clearly defined relationship would bar from entry people from the six countries and refugees with no such ties.

Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin, who successfully challenged the ban in lower courts, said that students from affected countries due to attend the University of Hawaii would still be able to do so.

Both bans were to partly go into effect 72 hours after the court's decision. The Department of Homeland Security promised clear and sufficient public notice in coordination with the travel industry.

Trump signed the order as a replacement for a Jan. 27 one issued a week after he became president that also was blocked by federal courts, but not before it caused chaos at airports and provoked numerous protests.

Even before the Supreme Court action the ban applied only to new visa applicants, not people who already have visas or are U.S. permanent residents, known as green card holders. The executive order also made waivers available for a foreign national seeking to enter the United States to resume work or study, visit a spouse, child or parent who is a U.S. citizen, or for "significant business or professional obligations." Refugees "in transit" and already approved would have been able to travel to the United States under the executive order.

A CONSERVATIVE COURT

The case was Trump's first major challenge at the Supreme Court, where he restored a 5-4 conservative majority with the appointment of Neil Gorsuch, who joined the bench in April. There are five Republican appointees on the court and four Democratic appointees. The four liberal justices were silent.

Gorsuch was one of the three conservative justices who would have granted Trump's request to put the order completely into effect. Fellow conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissenting opinion in which he warned that requiring officials to differentiate between foreigners who have a connection to the United States and those who do not will prove unworkable.

"Today's compromise will burden executive officials with the task of deciding - on peril of contempt - whether individuals from the six affected nations who wish to enter the United States have a sufficient connection to a person or entity in this country," Thomas wrote.

The state of Hawaii and a group of plaintiffs in Maryland represented by the American Civil Liberties Union argued that the order violated federal immigration law and the Constitution's First Amendment prohibition on the government favoring or disfavoring any particular religion. Regional federal appeals courts in Virginia and California both upheld district judge injunctions blocking the order.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley. Additional reporting by Andrew Chung and Yeganeh Torbati in Washington and Mohammed Ghobari in Sanaa, Yemen; Editing by Will Dunham and Howard Goller)
Detroit Judge Mulls Request to Protect 1,400 Iraqis From Immediate Deportation
Tresa Baldas
Detroit Free Press
12:40 p.m. ET June 26, 2017

A federal judge in Detroit is considering a request to protect 1,444 Iraqi immigrants nationwide from being immediately deported, including some who could be removed from the U.S. as early as tomorrow.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith heard arguments this morning on a motion filed over the weekend asking him to extend temporary protection to all potential deportees nationwide. A decision could come as early as today.

Last Thursday, Goldsmith granted temporary protection to 114 Iraqi immigrants from metro Detroit, giving them two more weeks to remain here to pursue their cases.

The advocates, along with the ACLU, fear the immigrants, many of them Iraqi Christians, could face persecution in Iraq -- either tortured or killed -- and deserve more time to argue their cases.  According to immigration advocates, another 85 Iraqi immigrants nationwide have been arrested and face deportation orders, including some that could be sent back to Iraq as early as Tuesday.

"It’s the government that’s hurrying these people toward deportation," attorney Margo Schlanger, a lawyer for the Iraqi detainees, argued in court today, claiming the government isn't giving the immigrants enough time to find lawyers and seek legal relief.

At issue is the June 11 arrests of numerous Iraqi nationals by the  Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to ICE, all but two of the 114 arrested in Michigan had criminal convictions; the other two have pending criminal charges. Nationwide, ICE has said, 1,444  Iraqi nationals are facing final orders for removal, though  not all have been detained.

Following the June 11 arrests in Michigan, a lawsuit was filed against ICE by immigration and civil rights advocates who are hoping to block the deportation efforts.

In court today, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Newby argued against granting protection to the entire group of  potential Iraqi deportees, saying they all have criminal backgrounds of some sort and don't have a legal right to be here anyway. Moreover, she argued that Goldsmith doesn't have jurisdiction to decide immigration matters that belong in  immigration court, and that this case shouldn't be granted class action status.

Specifically, Newby said that not all of the Iraqi immigrants are similarly situated, noting some have been convicted of crimes more serious than others and that the immigration courts should decide these cases on an individualized bases. She also argues that the detainees likely won't win their arguments before immigration courts.

Immigration advocates disagreed and last week convinced Goldsmith that all potential Iraqi deportees --  many of them Christians -- deserve more time to state their cases.

"Irreparable harm is made out by the significant chance of loss of life and lesser forms of persecution that petitioners have substantiated," Goldsmith wrote in his ruling. "The public interest is also better served by an orderly court process that assures that petitioners' invocation of federal court relief is considered before the removal process continues."

Goldsmith said he will issue a written opinion on today's request. He did not specify when.

ICE has previously said it will comply with the judge's order and has maintained that its actions to deport Iraqi immigrants are warranted an dlegal.

As Rebecca Adducci, field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Detroit, stated:

"The operation in this region was specifically conducted to address the very real public safety threat represented by the criminal aliens arrested. The vast majority of those arrested in the Detroit metropolitan area have very serious felony convictions, multiple felony convictions in many cases. I applaud the efforts of the law enforcement personnel who, day in and day out, put their lives on the line to protect this community."

The June 11 arrests by ICE sparked protests in metro Detroit by supporters who say the Iraqis would face persecution in Iraq since many of them are Christians. Almost 200 Iraqi nationals with criminal records have been arrested recently nationwide by federal immigration agents.

ICE has defended the arrests, saying the Iraqis arrested all had criminal backgrounds and final orders of deportation from an immigration judge.

Attorneys for the Iraqis, meanwhile, have been filing appeals for the detainees in immigration and local county courts.

“We are thankful and relieved that our clients will not be immediately be sent to Iraq, where they face grave danger of persecution, torture or death," Michael Steinberg, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, has previously stated. "It would be unconstitutional and unconscionable to deport these individuals without giving them an opportunity to demonstrate the harm that awaits them in Iraq." 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

College Professor Fired Following Appearance on Fox News Where She Defended a Black Lives Matter Party
BY STEPHANIE PETIT
JUNE 25, 2017 AT 2:14PM EDT

A college professor who recently appeared on Fox News to defend a Black Lives Matter event in which only black people were invited has been fired.

It was announced Friday that Lisa Durden, a former adjunct professor at Essex County College in New Jersey, would be let go from her job following a heated argument on the June 6 episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight. While speaking about an “all-black Memorial Day celebration” hosted by a Black Lives Matter group, Durden, who is black, told the host “you white people are angry because you couldn’t use your white privilege card” to attend the event.

The former professor, who taught communications and pop culture classes as an adjunct according to the Newark Star-Ledger, also called America a “racist society.”

“The college was immediately inundated with feedback from students, faculty and prospective students and their families expressing frustration, concern and even fear that the views expressed by a college employee (with influence over students) would negatively impact their experience on the campus,” newly appointed Essex County College President Anthony Munroe said in a statement, according to NJ.com. “I fully believe that institutions of higher learning must provide a safe space for students… The character of this institution mandates that we embrace diversity, inclusion, and unity. Racism cannot be fought with more racism.”

Munroe said the school suspended her with pay for six working days and fired her after a public meeting at which Durden addressed the school’s board on June 20.

“The college affirms its right to select employees who represent the institution appropriately and are aligned with our mission,” Munroe said, while noting it “supports and affirms the right of free speech and independent views and expressions of those views for our faculty and staff.”

Durden, who did not mention the school she worked for during the interview, told NJ.com that she was abruptly suspended following her appearance on the show, only learning that she had to cancel her classes when she arrived on campus on June 8 to teach one.

“They did this to humiliate me,” she said. “Essex County College publicly lynched me in front of my students.”

After her firing, Durden told NJ.com that said she has received support from staff members and students. The Newark resident said she thought living in a “black and brown city” and working for a “black and brown college” would be a “safe space” for her to share her viewpoints.

“It should be a safe place for me,” she said. “I thought when I came home from war, I would be safe.” Instead, “I was fired.”
UAE's Gargash Says Alternative to Qatar Demands Is 'Not Escalation But Parting Ways'
Reuters
Saturday 24 Jun 2017

A senior United Arab Emirates (UAE) official said on Saturday that if Qatar did not accept an ultimatum issued by Arab states which imposed a boycott this month on the tiny Gulf Arab nation, "the alternative is not escalation but parting ways".

The 13-point list of demands from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE, which Doha has said are not reasonable or actionable, include closing Al Jazeera television network, curbing ties with Iran, shutting a Turkish base and paying reparations.

"The alternative is not escalation, the alternative is parting of ways, because it is very difficult for us to maintain a collective grouping," UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told reporters.

He said diplomacy remained a priority, but added that mediation efforts to resolve the dispute had been undermined by the public disclosure of the demands.

"The mediators' ability to shuttle between the parties and try and reach a common ground has been compromised by this leak," he said. "Their success is very dependent on their ability to move but not in the public space."

The demands are apparently aimed at dismantling Qatar's two-decade-old interventionist foreign policy, which has incensed its Arab neighbours.

Gargash said if Qatar fails to comply within the 10-day timeline set out in the ultimatum, it would be isolated, but he did not make clear what more could be done since the four Arab nations have already cut diplomatic relations with Doha and severed most commercial ties.

Kuwait is helping mediate the dispute as is the United States, for which it is a big test since Qatar is home to a base housing the headquarters of its Middle East air power and 11,000 troops.

The countries that imposed the sanctions accuse Qatar of funding terrorism, fomenting regional unrest and drawing too close to their enemy Iran. Qatar rejects those accusations and says it is being punished for straying from its neighbours' backing for authoritarian rulers.

The uncompromising demands leave little prospect for a quick end to the biggest diplomatic crisis for years between Sunni Arab Gulf states.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/271531.aspx
Yemen Government Says to Investigate Allegations of Abuse in Secret Prisons
Reuters
Saturday 24 Jun 2017

President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government said on Saturday it was investigating reports that forces backed by the United Arab Emirates were running secret prisons in southern Yemen where detainees are subjected to torture and abuse.

The UAE is part of a Saudi-led Arab alliance that intervened in Yemen's civil war in 2015 to roll back Iran-allied Houthi forces that drove Hadi into exile. His government has since regained a presence in the south based in Aden but the Houthis still hold most of the north including the capital Sanaa.

Reports of secret prisons where detainees are abused relate to areas of the south where UAE forces and its allies have also swooped against al Qaeda militants, who have exploited the war to try to carve out areas of control and influence.

Last week, New York-based Human Rights Watch reported that it had documented the cases of 49 people, including four children, whom it said were arbitrarily detained or forcibly disappeared in Aden and Hadramout over the last year.

Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghr said he had set up a six-member committee headed by the justice minister to investigate "human rights allegations in liberated areas".

"The committee starts work from today and sends its report to the prime minister within 15 days," the order, dated June 22, said. The committee's duties were to investigate the abuse allegations, ways to respond to them and to put forth mechanisms to deal with any such issues in the future.

On Friday, the UAE Foreign Ministry denied running any secret prisons in Yemen and called the accusations "an attempt to sully the reputation of the alliance that had intervened to save the Yemeni people".

"This issue is in the hands of the legitimate Yemeni authorities, while the coalition forces provide the necessary training for Yemeni cadres in line with the best legal practices," the ministry said in a statement.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/271526.aspx
Egypt Discusses Social Safety Net With World Bank Mission in Cairo
Ahram Online
Saturday 24 Jun 2017

Bank officials have been in Egypt on a five-day visit, checking progress of the government's economic reform programme

Egyptian Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Waly met with the World Bank mission Saturday in Cairo to follow up on the progress of social safety net programme Takaful and Karama.

The World Bank mission, which was on a five-day visit to Cairo ending today, made field visits in Fayoum and Beni Suef governorates, where the programme is implemented.

The mission met with local authorities and beneficiaries of the five-year $400 million project financed by the World Bank.

The Takaful and Karama programme, established by the government in early 2015, is a national social safety net programme aimed at protecting the poor through income support.

Egypt is the first Arab country to implement the conditional monetary support programme to provide social protection in line with the implementation of a package of economic reform policies, Waly said in a ministry statement.

In 2014, Egypt launched a plan to introduce fiscal reforms, including fuel subsidy cuts that raised prices by up to 78 percent, and levying new taxes to ease a growing budget deficit – currently estimated at 12.2 percent of GDP – as well as floating the Egyptian pound in November 2016.

Egypt signed a $12 billion loan with the World Bank to support the government’s economic reform programme, with the funds intended for fiscal consolidation, ensuring energy supplies, and enhancing competitiveness in the private sector. Two tranches of $3 billion were delivered in September last year and in March, with the third tranche expected in December.

The World Bank finances several projects in Egypt, including projects related to energy, transport, water and wastewater, agriculture and irrigation, population and health, and social safety nets. It also supports employment projects and finances small and medium-sized enterprises.

The current portfolio of the World Bank in Egypt includes 26 projects at a total commitment of $5.92 billion, according to the bank’s data.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/271521.aspx
Sisi Ratifies Egyptian-Saudi Maritime Border Demarcation Deal
Ahram Online
Saturday 24 Jun 2017

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ratified on Saturday the Egyptian-Saudi maritime border demarcation deal that hands over the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia, after the parliament recent vote in favour of the agreement.

The strait also overlooks the Ras Hamid headland along the coast of Saudi Arabia's northwesterncity of Tabuk.

Following a series of heated parliamentary hearings earlier this month, the majority of Egyptian MPs voted in favour of the agreement by a show of hands in a general session on June 14.

Following parliament’s approval, Mohamed El-Sewedi, the head of the Egyptian parliament’s majority bloc Support Egypt, said that if Egypt had rejected the deal, “Saudi Arabia would have resorted to international arbitration, and this could have left Saudi-Egyptian relations in a bind.”

El-Sewedi said that apresidential decree issued in January 1990 stated that the two islands are part of Saudi Arabia.

However, MPs from the opposition 25/30 bloc, which opposes the deal, said that parliament's discussion and vote on the deal was "invalid," calling on El-Sisi not to ratify the deal.

Following the parliamentary approval, opponents of the deal held small protests against the deal in a number of Egyptian cities, which were quickly dispersed by police.

Some opponents of the deal were arrested in protests or from homes, with some later released on bail.

Last week, El-Sisi said in a televised speech that"every citizen has the right to express his opinion on this matter or even to reject the deal, but I assure everyone that nations are not bought or sold."

"States are run by laws and facts, not by personal interests or desires, and we want to deal with all matters according to this principle without doubting each other or making accusations of betrayal," El-Sisi said, referencing the ongoing political row between supporters and opponents of the deal.

The deal has faced a number of legal challenges by opponents and led to disputes over which courts have jurisdiction to hear such cases.

Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court hasruled last week to suspend execution of all previous court verdicts regarding the deal.

In January 2017,Egypt’s High Administrative Court upheld an earlier decisionby an administrative court that voided the deal and affirmed Egyptian sovereignty over Tiran and Sanafir.

In April,the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters ruledthat the country's High Administrative Court had no jurisdiction over the matter.

The border demarcation deal was signed by Egypt and Saudi Arabia in April 2016.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/271549.aspx
Kenya Detains American Soldiers Trying to Enter South Sudan
June 23, 2017

Nairobi/Juba, June 23, 2017 (SSNA) — Kenya has detained three United States soldiers who tried to enter into South Sudan, multiple US military media outlets reported.

The soldiers are identified as Private First Class (PFC) Alex Zwiefelhofer currently with the United States’ 82nd Airborne Division, former US Marine William Wright-Martinovich, and Army veteran Craig Austin Lang.

Reports suggest that the three soldiers were caught on Wednesday and are currently being held by the Kenyan national police.

It is not clear why the detained soldiers tried to enter the war-ravaged young nation.

Kenyan national police declined to comment when contacted by the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA). The SSNA cannot independently verify whether the soldiers were armed when they were apprehended by the Kenyan authorities.
President Uhuru Outlines His Achievements As He Woos Mt Kenya
By PSCU
Sun, June 25th 2017 at 00:00 GMT

President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto address residents of Meru county at Maua stadium during a rally. (Photo: DPPS)

The Jubilee Government has taken unprecedented measures by upgrading miraa to a cash crop and making billions of shillings available to cushion farmers, President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Saturday.

The President said his administration has for the first time given miraa farmers the attention and State support denied them by previous administrations. He dismissed Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s recent pronouncements concerning miraa as insincere and belated.

He said it was surprising that Raila was feigning concern for miraa farmers when he never took any action to support them when he was Prime Minister in the coalition government.

“This is the first government that has made miraa a cash crop and today, there is no difference between coffee farmers and miraa farmers,” said Uhuru at Laare, Meru County.

The President, who was accompanied by his deputy William Ruto, said his government has allocated Sh2 billion to support the miraa sector. The money will be used to support farmers through loans to be channeled through cooperatives that will be formed once a drive to register those who produce the crop is completed.

The government has also set up a directorate under the Ministry of Agriculture to deal with affairs related to miraa farming, he said. He told residents to ignore propaganda being pushed by the Opposition about the government’d drive to register miraa farmers.

“Some people are spreading propaganda and telling farmers that the registration will be used to tax farmers. That is a lie. The truth is that the data will be used for purposes of guiding State support for the sector,” said the President.

He said the data will be used to set up cooperatives through which farmers can access loans the same way coffee and tea farmers do. The Jubilee government, he said, is also upgrading the infrastructure network to ease transportation of miraa within Kenya, besides working to improve the international market.

The President launched the construction of a road to connect Laare to Isiolo, which will reduce travelling time from four hours to only 30 minutes. The government has also allocated Sh300 million to tarmac the Kaelo-Kamukunji-Mutuati road.

“There is no government prior to the Jubilee administration that has ever done anything meaningful for miraa farmers before we came into power. They are only going round with propaganda,” said the President.

Uhuru and his entourage made stopovers at Nchiru, Kianjai, Ngundune, Laare, Mutuati, Kiongo, Kiengo and Mau on the way to Maili Tatu and Kangeta. He said there are six ongoing projects that will provide sufficient water for domestic use and irrigation once they are completed.

Regional security

“We should remain united and rally our support behind Jubilee so that the development we have started to implement in this area will continue,” he said. The water projects include the Imenti South Bulk Water Supply and Sewerage being constructed at a cost of Sh3.7 billion to serve 150,000 people, Ura Dam, which targets a population of 9,000 and is to be constructed at a cost of Sh30 million and the Sh40 million Ura Dam II to be constructed that will serve 20,000 people.

Others are the Maua Water Supply I that is being constructed at a cost of Sh380 million to serve 57,000 people, Sh900 million Mau Water Project II targeting 100,000 people and Sh40 million Thangatha Dam that will serve 10,000 people.

On security along the Meru-Isiolo border, President Kenyatta assured residents that the national government has deployed National Police Reservists to areas where crime is prevalent to beef up security.

Ruto urged voters in the region to come out in large numbers to ensure a big Jubilee win in the August 8 election. He said the choice is between the Jubilee team focused on transforming the country and an opposition that has nothing but empty rhetoric.

Read more at: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001244741/president-uhuru-outlines-his-achievements-as-he-woos-mt-kenya
What Other African Countries Should Learn from Namibia
Face2face Africa

Just two and a half decades since she won her independence from Germany, Namibia has made tremendous progress, surpassing other African nations that are seemingly more privileged than her.

Despite having suffered enormous struggle through the years of apartheid in South Africa and having a relatively small population of about 2.4 million people, Namibia has proved to be an economic giant in Africa.

The question that other African countries ought to ask is: What’s the secret behind her success? Many economic and political observers have attributed Namibia’s apparent success to a number of factors.

Political Stability

Since independence in 1990, Namibia has never had any major political or civil shakeup despite a well-established interracial ethnic formation. After independence, Namibia’s government encouraged white invaders to remain.

The white minority has contributed immensely to Namibia’s economy.

The southern African country also enjoys a relatively healthy political atmosphere. According to the Namibian constitution, a president can only hold office for a maximum of two years.

Namibia’s current president Hage Geingob assumed office in 2014, succeeding former president Hifikepunye Pohamba, who retired at the end of his second term.

The lack of numerous political tensions present in other African countries has allowed for steady economic growth in Namibia as investors enjoy a peaceful business environment.

Democracy and Media Freedom

According to BBC, Namibia is one of the few African countries that have allowed the media to enjoy a significant degree of freedom. Both state and private media have the liberty to give the opposition coverage, including those who criticize government.

This freedom has allowed members of civil society, opposition and media to hold the government to account, ensuring public resources are used prudently and for the benefit of the people.

Education

According to Project Syndicate, one of the main reasons that Namibia enjoys such great success is the government’s commitment to education.

While other advanced African countries are still charging for education in public schools, Namibia offers free primary education and has announced plans to make education in all public secondary schools free, starting this academic year.

With more people enjoying free access to education, literacy levels in Namibia have improved significantly over the last decade. This has also benefited other sectors of the economy including disease eradication and promotion of equality.

Impressive GDP Growth

Poverty rates in Namibia are on a steady decline. In fact, Project Syndicate suggests that Namibia’s extreme poverty rate has dropped by half. The number of people living on less than $1.90 a day in Namibia is estimated to have gone down from 53 percent to 23 percent over the last decade.

Even with the current rise in commodity prices, Namibia maintained an impressive GDP growth rate of 4.5 percent in 2015. Her debt-to-GDP ratio is about 25 percent, which is less than a third of the debt ratio in Europe and US, according to Project Syndicate.

The World Bank Group classifies Namibia as an upper middle income nation; however, Namibian authorities insist they are still a developing country.

Like many other countries in and out of Africa Namibia still struggles with a myriad of challenges such as HIV/AIDS, unemployment, climate change, and rising commodity prices.

Still, Namibia serves as an example to other African countries and is considered Africa’s success story.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

'What Happened to Black Lives Matter?’ - Movement For Black Lives Responds
Monique Judge

An article was published Wednesday that questioned the organization, the leadership, the purpose, the plans and the goals of Black Lives Matter. It was an article that organizers in the Movement for Black Lives say included multiple inaccuracies, and as the group seeks corrections or a retraction, they responded with an op-ed of their own to set the record straight.

In “What Happened to Black Lives Matter?”, BuzzFeed reporter Darren Sands said that in the wake of Donald Trump’s election in November 2016, while the nation had the biggest outpouring of liberal activism in more than a decade, Black Lives Matter seems less visible than it was a year ago, and the movement is struggling with disputes over direction and leadership.

Sands spoke with members of groups that are part of Black Lives Matter and spoke of the history of the movement, the origins of its ideals, the people who are said to have started it, and those who are perceived to lead it. There are also hints of infighting, people disillusioned with the movement and where it is headed, and questions about how it will be sustained and continued.

Organizers within the Movement for Black Lives took issue with that portrayal and wrote their own op-ed on Mic addressing the things said in Sands’ article.

“These are dangerous times for our people,” they wrote. “History tells us that we need responsible, thoughtful and brave journalism. But movements can be stopped in their tracks by uninformed and inaccurate hit pieces that trade in gossip. We must consider what we believe in, who we stand with, and what we are fighting for.”

It’s worth reading both pieces to consider the differing opinions surrounding the movement. Those who spoke on the record with Sands echoed some of his assertions, the same assertions that Movement for Black Lives seeks to clarify.

One point that Movement for Black Lives makes clear is that just like in previous movements, there is going to be conflict; everyone is not going to agree on every point or every approach, but it’s the way that conflict is handled that will dictate how far the movement can go.

“We are not always in full agreement, we have competing ideas and we will undoubtedly upset each other in the process of making difficult decisions. We are here because we believe that our victories in service of black people are bigger and better when we win together.”
And then:

“And when we arrive at conflict, we do our best to hold each other to that standard, no matter how difficult or inconvenient. We don’t always get this right, but in order to do so, it requires all of us to hold these values.”
Massive Rally in Damascus Marking al-Quds International Day
23 June، 2017

Damascus, SANA--A massive rally was held Friday in Damascus starting from al-Hamidiyeh market to the Umayyad Mosque marking the 38th anniversary of International al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day.

The participants in the event stressed the need to unite the energies of the nation against the Israeli occupation and the United States, pointing out that there is no alternative to the liberation of Palestine, the restoration of all holy sites and the return of refugees to their homes.

The participants issued a statement in which they affirmed that their participation aims at mobilizing and directing the energies of the nation towards Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque, reiterating that the Palestinian cause is the central issue and that Palestine is the heart of the nation and Jerusalem is its eternal capital.

They warned of all the settlement projects being promoted in the region because such projects “aim at eliminating the Palestinian cause, fragmenting the countries that support it and creating an environment conducive to make the Zionist entity a friend and ally of some Arab and Islamic countries.

The participants also paid tribute to the heroic captives in the Israeli occupation prisons and their legitimate resistance by all means, stressing full support for their rights until they are freed from the grip of the occupation. They also saluted the heroes of Palestinian Intifada.

The International al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day is an annual event held on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan. The event was first initiated by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 to express solidarity with the Palestinian people in the face of the Zionist Israeli entity and its control of Jerusalem.

Manar/Ghossoun
Syrian Army Kills ISIS Terrorists, Destroys Their Positions in Many Areas Across the Country
24 June، 2017

Provinces, SANA- the army’s Air Force destroyed on Saturday an ISIS position and two pickups, equipped with machineguns, and killed 14 ISIS terrorists in the village of Mhaimadiyeh in the western countryside of Deir Ezzor province.

SANA reporter said that the army Air Force carried out a series of airstrikes on the ISIS positions, gatherings and fortifications in the neighborhoods of al-Hamidiyeh, al-Arfi and Khasarat and in the
surroundings of battalion 137and the Panorama and al-Majbal area and in the villages of al-Jnaineh, Aiyash and al-Bghiliyeh, leaving many of terrorists dead or injured.

The source added that the army artillery killed many of the ISIS terrorists after bombarding their fortifications and movement axes in the surroundings of the airport, Talet al-Sanouf, the water resources, al-Thardeh Mountain and in al-Mrai’eyeh village in the eastern countryside of the province.

Homs/Hama

The army Air Force dealt heavy blows to dens and supply routes of ISIS terrorists to the east of al-Sukhneh city in the eastern countryside of Homs, killing many of the terrorists and destroying machinegun-equipped vehicles of their own, according to a military source.

In the eastern countryside of Hama, the source said that many of ISIS terrorists were killed and their vehicles were destroyed in raids of the Syrian Army’s Air Force against the terrorists’ gatherings and fortifications to the east of al-Tanahej hills.

Army units destroyed ISIS terrorist positions and gatherings in Qulaib al-Thour and Tabbaret al-Dibeh in the eastern countryside of Hama.

Raqqa

Air Force of the Army raided ISIS terrorist movements and gatherings to the south of Kherbet Zedan village and to the west of Abu al-Ulouj area in the western countryside of Raqqa province, inflicting them heavy losses.

Daraa

Army units killed a number of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in the neighborhoods of Tariq al-Sad, al-Abbasiyeh and in al-Nazihin Camp in Daraa al-Balad area in Daraa province.
Syrian Army Establishes Control Over Ark Gas Station, Kills ISIS and al-Nusra Terrorists in Homs and Damascus Countryside
23 June، 2017

Provinces, SANA – Army and Armed Forces units, in cooperation with allies, established control over Ark gas station 6 km northeast of Ark village along with 4 vantage points 3 km northeast of the village, a military source stated on Friday evening.

Earlier, the source said that an army unit clashed with an ISIS terrorist group that was trying to infiltrate from the direction of Jabbab Hamad village towards one of the military points east of Umm al-Tababeer village in the eastern countryside of Homs, a military source said.

The source added that the clashes ended up with eliminating all members of the terrorist group and destroying the weapons and ammunition were in their possession.

According to the source, army units also thwarted an attack by Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groups on a number of military points from the direction of Jawalak-al-Mahatta-Sensil in the eastern countryside of Homs, eliminating a number of terrorists and destroying their weapons and ammunition.

Later, an army unit, in cooperation with supporting forces, thwarted an attack carried out by Jabhat al-Nusra terror organization and groups affiliated to it in the southwestern part of Damascus Countryside.

SANA’s reporter in Quenitra said that the army and supporting forces that attempted to sneak from Beit Jinn farm towards al-Tal al-Ahmar in the surroundings of Harfa village, attacking farmers who were harvesting wheat in that area.

The reporter said that the clashes resulted in killing a number of terrorists, injuring others, and destroying the weapons, ammo, and vehicles that were in their possession, adding that terrorists also targeted with mortar shells and machinegun fire homes in Harfa village, causing material damage and fires in cherry and olive orchards.

English Bulletin
Syrian Army Units Kill Tens of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra Terrorists in Several Areas
22 June، 2017

Provinces, SANA – Army units carried out  on Thursday military operations against dens and positions of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in Daraa al-Balad area and its surrounding and in al-Modawara village in al-Lajat area located in the countryside of Daraa and Sweida provinces.

A military source told SANA that more than 12 terrorists were killed, others were injured and a a vehicle was destroyed during the army’s operations.

Homs

Units of the army, in cooperation with backup forces, established control over Dahr Abah to the east of Ark village in Homs eastern countryside.

The army’s air force also destroyed gatherings and vehicles for ISIS in Abu al-Tababer, Anu Fatour, Jub Habl and Rasm al-Tawil in Homs eastern countryside.

The army’s military operations ended up with the killing of many terrorists and destroying their criminal equipment.

DeirEzzor

Army units , backed by Air Force, carried out a series of raids against ISIS terrorists’ positions in the villages of al-Jneina , al-Huseiniya, Ayash, al-Boughailieh and the neighborhoods of al-Sinaa, al-Hamediyh,khasarat, and al-kanamat, and the surroundings of the Panorama area in Deir Ezzor, killing or injuring many of the terrorists.

SANA reporter said that an army unit clashed with ISIS terrorist groups in al-Tanmieh sector on the western outskirts of Deir Ezzor city, killing nine terrorists at least and injuring others.

The reporter said that an army unit dropped an ISIS drone carrying bombs over Harabish area, noting that the army artillery destroyed ISIS terrorists’ gatherings in the surroundings of Panorama area, Panorama roundabout, al-Ummal neighborhood, and al-Boughailieh village in the western countryside of Deir Ezzor.

The reporter added the air force carried out air strikes against hideouts and movements for ISIS terrorists in the villages of Ayash, al-Jneina,al-Hisan and the surroundings of al-Swame’ area on Deir Ezzor –Hasaka road, killing or injuring many of ISIS terrorists , four of whom hold foreign nationalities.

The reporter said that the ISIS terrorist organization fired Deir Ezzor neighborhoods with several rocket shells, causing material damage to houses, public and private properties, adding that no human causalities were reported.
Syrian Army Establishes Control Over Areas in Damascus Countryisde, Kills Scores of Terrorists in Many Regions Across the Country
21 June، 2017

Army establishes control over Ark gas station, kills ISIS and al-Nusra terrorists in Homs and Damascus Countryside

Provinces , SANA-Army and Armed Forces units carried out air and artillery strikes against ISIS terrorists’ hotbeds and movements in Deir Ezzor.

A military source told SANA that the army units engaged on Wednesday in fierce clashes with ISIS terrorist groups which attacked military points on the direction of al-Jbeileh neighborhood, al-Tanmieh sector, and near the graveyards area in Deir Ezzor.

The source said that the clashes ended up with foiling the attacks, killing 11 terrorists and injuring others.

Meanwhile, SANA’s reporter said that the army’s artillery targeted gatherings for ISIS terrorists in the surroundings of al-Sinouf hill, al-Taim field, and the neighborhoods of al-Hweiqeh and al-Omal, killing and injuring a number of terrorists.

The reporter added that the Syrian Air Force killed in a series of airstrikes several ISIS terrorists and destroyed three of their vehicles in Hweijet Katea, the neighborhoods of al-Sinaa and al-Hamidieh, and the surroundings of Liwa al-Tamin.

Daraa/Sweida

Army units killed scores of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists and destroyed an anti-tank rocket launcher that belongs to them in Mlaihet al-Atash and Daraa al-Balad in Daraa province and in Tiloul Salman in the northeastern countryside of Sweida.

Meanwhile, terrorist organizations acknowledged on their pages on the social networking websites that 12 of their members were killed in Daraa al-Balad area, including terrorist Bilal Yasein al-Masalmeh, the leader of the so called “Seiouf Horan Battalion” and the military leader Isaa Mohamed Salameh al-Masalmeh.

Damascus Countryside

A military source announced that the army established control over Ber al-Qasab region, the main center for Jabhat al-Nusra in Damascus south-eastern countryside and a number of strategic hills after eliminating their last gathering in the area.

The source added that the army established control over Ber al-Qasab, Kherbat al-Qasab, Tloul al-Rawabi and al-Sreikhi in Damascus eastern countryside.

It affirmed that the army’s operations ended up with the killing of a number of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists, destroying their weapons and seizing a large quantity of their munitions.

Earlier, army and Armed Forces units destroyed vehicles and gatherings for Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in the far southeast of Damascus Countryside.

A military source told SANA that army units intensified their strikes against gatherings and movements of Jabhat al-Nusra in al-Rawabi, Tal Rinaba, and the area surrounding Beir al-Qasab and Rajm al-Sarihi in the southeast parts of Damascus Countryside.

The source added that tens of terrorists were killed due to the strikes in addition to destroying 3 vehicles equipped with heavy machineguns, 4 transport vehicles, 5 motorcycles, and a stationary rocket launcher.

Hama

Army  units launched intensive strikes against movements for ISIS terrorists east of Salamyia area in Hama countryside.

SANA’s reporter said that army units targeted ISIS terrorists’ sites and movements in the area between the oil line and Taberet al-Deibeh east of Salamyia area, killing and injuring many of the terrorists and destroying weapons and ammunition that were in their possession.
Amnesty for ISIS Fighters in Syria's Raqqa Aims to Promote Stability
Islamic State prisoners, who were pardoned by a council that is expected to govern Raqqa once the group is dislodged from the Syrian city, walk behind a Kurdish policeman in Ain Issa village, north of Raqqa, Syria June 24, 2017. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

By Michael Georgy | AIN ISSA, SYRIA
Reuters

A civil council expected to rule Raqqa once Islamic State is dislodged from the Syrian city pardoned 83 of the jihadist group's low-ranking militants on Saturday, a goodwill gesture designed to promote stability.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have gained significant ground in the battle for Raqqa, the operational base for Islamic State over the past three years and a symbol of its self-proclaimed caliphate.

Senior SDF figures predict Raqqa could fall within months. That would be a severe blow to Islamic State, which has plotted shooting and bomb attacks around the world from Raqqa, a city of about 300,000 before the militants seized it.

The 83 Islamic State prisoners were transported to the headquarters of the Raqqa City Council in the village of Ain Issa, north of Raqqa, in an amnesty coinciding with the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

One by one, they stepped down from buses, the youngest 14 years old.

Leila Mustafa, co-leader of the council, read out a speech as the militants, released because they had no blood on their hands and held no senior posts, stood silently in neat lines.

Sweets were handed out on trays in the sweltering heat, in what officials hoped would be the start of a new chapter in the men's lives.

Speakers forecast a brighter future for Syria, which has been locked in a multi-sided civil war for six years involving regional powers and a U.S.-led coalition whose air strikes put Islamic State on the defensive.

"We would never release senior Daesh officials or anyone who has blood on their hands," senior council member Omar Aloush told Reuters, using a derogatory term for Islamic State. "We are giving these men a second chance."

On the street outside the council, he told the Islamic State members, some of whom had surrendered, that they would be integrated into society and given a chance to attend schools.

Speeches were followed by applause from all sides. The men walked past council members and shook their hands, before tasting freedom and reuniting with their families.

Several young Islamic State members, like 17-year-old Kays al-Hadi, provided a simple explanation on why they joined IS.

"There were no opportunities before they arrived," he said.

The amnesty may be one small step towards easing tensions that run deep in Raqqa after three years of ruthless Islamic State occupation, followed by war.

Council officials acknowledge they face huge challenges in rebuilding a city with a traumatized population and devastated infrastructure.

Abdel Rahman Kalas, 43, worked in the Islamic State department that imposed taxes on Raqqa citizens.

"I have seven children," he said, as former militants walked away after the ceremony to face the uncertainty that hangs over Raqqa. "I had no choice but to cooperate. They paid me $115 a month."

(Reporting by Michael Georgy; editing by Mark Heinrich)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Behind the London Tower Block Fire Which Left Many Dead, Injured and Displaced

People of color, the working class and poor have been negatively impacted by British economic and housing policy

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Monday June 19, 2017

Authorities in London, England announced on June 19 that 79 deaths have been officially recorded resulting from a fire which quickly swept through the Grenfell housing complex in North Kensington on June 13-14.

Immediately after the fire erupted many media outlets began to raise serious questions about the level of safety and preparedness inside the building.

Residents through their organizations had complained for several years about concerns related to the lack of sprinklers, fire alarms and effective maintenance of the structure. Apparently these complaints were not addressed by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC)Council which is said to be the owners of the flats.

Hundreds of residents and their supporters attempted to storm the RBKC Council proceedings on June 16 demanding answers to their questions. The doors of the building where the Council was meeting were locked as demonstrators rallied outside.

Residents and their family members who were interviewed by the press spoke to the abject failure of the owners and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization which was supposed to oversee the conditions in the building. These entities did not provide proper fire prevention and rescue operation protocols at Grenfell Towers. After the fire started some residents reported that they were instructed by municipal employees to remain within the building.

Nonetheless, hundreds of the residents were able to escape without being severely injured. Others remain in hospital with some under critical care.

Later people rendered homeless went to makeshift relief centers seeking food, clothing, water, blankets and counseling. Volunteers from throughout the community donated supplies and food to the affected residents.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan visited the area of the fire the following day and was met with loud protests by residents and community members. The criticism centered on the absence of information related to transitional housing, clothing and food. Other concerns voiced by residents were the desire of many who were burned out that they could remain in the same neighborhood. Impacted tenants felt that these issues were not satisfactorily addressed by municipal and national governmental officials.

British Prime Minister Theresa May was admonished as well for failing to meet with residents and their families. She did visit the fire scene however the prime minister only spoke with firefighters and the police. Later she visited some of the injured victims in hospital.

Eyewitnesses, Community Organizations and Experts Blame Authorities for Disaster

Even the state-sponsored British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) could not conceal or minimize the culpability of the municipal officials in creating the conditions for the fire and subsequent deaths. Although North Kensington is considered a high-income area of London undergoing rapid gentrification, there are still large numbers of marginalized residents many of whom are from people of color communities with heritages in Africa, the Caribbean, South Asia, and the Middle East.

This racialized aspect of the disaster at Grenfell Tower became evident to readers and viewers of the media since a disproportionate number of people being interviewed were from nationally oppressed groups and the lower rungs of the working class. Anger is burgeoning among these groups who are saying the fire, its swift expansion, and the resulting injuries and deaths, were unnecessary. The general consensus is that if adequate safety precautions had been taken the fire may have never started or been confined to a small area of the housing block.
According to a post on the Grenfell Action Group website hours after the fire erupted, it says: “Watching breaking news about the Grenfell Tower fire catastrophe. Too soon (5am) to even guess at numbers of casualties and fatalities. Our heartfelt and sincere condolences (go out) to all who have perished, to the injured, to those who are bereaved or are still searching for missing loved ones. Regular readers of this blog will know that we have posted numerous warnings in recent years about the very poor fire safety standards at Grenfell Tower and elsewhere in RBKC. ALL OUR WARNINGS FELL ON DEAF EARS and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time.” (www.grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com)

The channeling of marginalized and oppressed groups into what is called “social housing” in Britain is clearly a manifestation of the class and racial oriented approach to urban planning that permeates London and other major cities. Many of these social housing complexes are located in ageing buildings which have been refurbished in recent years utilizing substandard materials creating a tinderbox.

Experts have cited the use of cladding at Grenfell Tower as a possible cause of the rapid spread of the fire. With this being a 24-story building firefighters did not have the equipment to reach the higher levels of the structure leaving people helpless in the face of imminent death.

Although higher-income housing developments are within the same general area as Grenfell Tower, the safety of the poor and working class residents are not treated with the same sense of urgency and necessity. Despite the fact that residents had repeatedly expressed their fears related to structural problems within the block no serious efforts by the municipal authorities were enacted.
Bloomberg, one of the world’s most widely-read financial publications, admitted in a report written by Leonid Bershidsky on the tragedy at Grenfell Tower that: “As in much of Europe, the use of tower blocks as public housing in the U.K. began in the 1950s with a decision to provide public subsidies based on building height. The 1965 Housing Subsidy Act spawned 4,500 tower blocks by 1979. It wasn't a great idea for a lot of social reasons. By the end of the 1970s, a growing body of research showed that the social alienation of living in a high-rise increased psychological stress, that toxic materials used in industrial construction and insufficient thermal insulation led to health problems, and that widespread crime and disaffection was linked to the faulty urban planning.” (June 16)

Placing low-income residents from oppressed groups in high-rise tower blocks serves two obvious purposes. The buildings serve as a mechanism to contain the demographic shift of British and other European municipalities restricting the geographic spread of people of color communities.

From a financial perspective, by concentrating African, Asian, Middle Eastern and other working class residents in confined spaces where maintenance and safety costs are de-emphasized, it provides the capacity for urban governments to channel tax revenue as incentives for private housing and commercial developments which is far more lucrative for corporations which specialize in these projects. What remains to be seen is whether the British government will learn from this calamitous event providing policy imperatives to construct housing units which are safer and more humane for the working poor and immigrants.

Tower Block Fire Compounds Political Crisis for the Conservative Government

Prime Minister Theresa May had good reason not to want to meet residents of Grenfell Towers and their neighbors. A recent election in the country, which many political pundits say was unnecessary, resulted in the Conservative Party losing its absolute majority in parliament forcing the ruling group to seek an alliance with the small Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in order to form a government. The prime minister could not afford to be seen on British and world television being heckled and denounced.

It is questionable whether May will be able to survive in her position in the coming weeks and months. Britain has been the site in recent months of several high-profile terrorist attacks in London and Manchester where many people have died.
On June 18, a crowd of Muslims coming from the Finsbury Park Mosque in North London were targeted by a white racist who drove his van into pedestrians. One person died in the attack and several others were seriously injured. People in the area said the assailant remarked that he was intent on killing Muslims.

The following day on June 19, Britain began negotiations with the European Union (EU) over its delinking from the continental organization. Brexit stemmed from another miscalculated election in June 2016 where the voters decided to withdraw from the EU, costing former Prime Minister David Cameron his position and triggering a recession inside the country due to the economic uncertainty going into the future.

Britain along with other western capitalist states will continue to experience political instability in light of the growing class and sectional differences among the populations. As long as the wealthy elites enhance their status with disregard for the majority of the people within society, the mounting social contradictions will undoubtedly prompt further economic turbulence and protracted ideological conflict.
Racism Against Blacks ‘Deeply Rooted’ in US Political System: Analyst
Tue Jun 20, 2017 6:19PM
presstv.ir

To listen to this statement just click on the website below:
http://217.218.67.231/Detail/2017/06/20/525977/US-racism-Abayomi-Azikiwe-blacks

The culture of racism against African Americans is “deeply rooted” in the US political system, with a long history going back to the era of slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries, a black journalist in Detroit says.

Racism “has a long history; it's rooted in slavery; it continued after the Civil War,” said Abayomi Azikiwe, editor at the Pan-African News Wire.

“This is deeply rooted in US political and state apparatus and there has to be some fundamental changes in the United States before there’s going to be any real improvement,” Azikiwe said in a phone interview with Press TV on Tuesday.

The use of excessive force by police against African Americans in cities across the US has sparked nationwide protests in the past several years and has given birth to a movement called "Black Lives Matter."

Racial disparities in police officers’ treatment of black citizens have been well-documented.

A study published Monday by a group of researchers at Stanford University in California indicates that police officers are significantly less respectful and consistently ruder toward black motorists during routine traffic stops than they are toward white drivers.

“Based on what we know from other research, there are police-community tensions all over the country,” said Jennifer Eberhardt, a psychology professor at Stanford University who co-authored the report. “You might imagine that those tensions would make their way into the language that people are using with one another.”

On Friday, a police officer in Minnesota was cleared of all charges in the 2016 shooting death of Philando Castile, an African American man who was killed in his car in front of his fiancee and her four-year-old daughter.

The jury’s decision to clear the officer has sparked protests in several cities.

On Sunday, police in Seattle, Washington, killed a pregnant African American woman while responding to her call about a crime.

According to a statement by Seattle police, the mother-of-four was "armed with a knife" and "confronted" two officers who were investigating her phone call.
Africa-Cuba Solidarity Reaffirmed at Namibia Conference
Legacy of cooperation against colonialism and imperialism continues

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Thursday June 15, 2017

Close bonds between the people of the African continent and the Caribbean island-nation of Cuba have been centuries in the making.

Africans caught in the Atlantic Slave Trade were taken to Cuba where their presence made an indelible mark on the character of the political, economic and cultural fabric of the country.

Since the 1960s, in the early aftermath of the 1959 seizure of power by revolutionary forces led by Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and others, African independence and transformative struggles have constituted a major factor in Cuban foreign policy. President Castro noted in 1976 that socialist Cuba was populated by a Latin African people opposed to colonialism, racism and imperialism.

This historical tradition was reinforced at a recent conference held in Windhoek, Republic of Namibia which brought together African leaders and Cuban governmental officials to renew ties among the geo-political regions and to chart a way forward in the current period. The Fifth Continental African Conference of Solidarity with Cuba was convened June 6-8 and brought together over 200 delegates from 26 African states under the theme of “Intensifying Solidarity and Continuing the Legacy of Fidel and Che.”

The first of these conferences was held in South Africa in 1995 just one year after the demise of the racist-apartheid system that brought President Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) to power. Subsequent gatherings took place in Ghana during 1997, Angola in 2010 and Ethiopia, the headquarters of the African Union (AU), in 2012.

1967 marks the 50th anniversary of the martyrdom of Che Guevara in Bolivia while he was in the South American country assisting revolutionary forces fighting against the neo-colonial regime which was supported by the United States. The Cuban Revolution from its inception posed a challenge to American imperialist dominance over the Caribbean, South America and other colonial and neo-colonial territories around the world.

In November 2016, 90-year old former President Fidel Castro passed away in Havana. His funeral was attended by many African leaders including Namibian President Hage Geingob who paid tribute to the revolutionary leader in an address to the mourners.

In a statement to the Conference,Namibian deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah emphasized that: “The holding of this conference is all the more timely because it is taking place when retrogressive forces are bent on reversing the gains made recently to normalize relations between Cuba and the United States.” Under the previous U.S. administration of President Barack Obama, the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba after a breach of over 50 years raised expectations of a possible lifting of the economic blockade imposed by Washington in October 1960.

Without the abolition of the blockade relations cannot be fully normalized despite the exchange of diplomats and the reopening of embassies. The U.S. Congress would have to approve the liquidation of the blockade and there are political elements within the legislature which categorically opposes full economic and trade relations with Havana.

Nonetheless, the Fifth Continental African Conference supported the address by Namibian President Hage Geingob who said: "We applaud the positive development in this respect and we commend the U.S. government and Cuba for their efforts towards normalizing of ties. However, there is still much ground left to cover to ensure the complete lifting of the blockage against Cuba.”

Geingob emphasized the urgency of the conference to develop a unified African strategy in regard to supporting Cuba. In addition, the delegates passed resolutions demanding the return of Guantanamo Bay, which remains over a century later after the so-called Spanish-American war under U.S. control, to the Cuban people.

A co-founder of the ruling Southwest Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) Party, Andimba Toivoya Toivo, who passed away just days after the conference, noted that: "Historically, Cuba assisted African countries in the fight against foreign domination. Through this patriotic support, Cuban people have shown us the meaning of solidarity, hence (we should show) our support for Cuba.”

Final Declaration Calls for Continuing Solidarity

African leaders viewed the current situation involving the status of U.S.-Cuban relations as being critical in light of the political character of the administration in Washington. President Donald Trump does have the prerogative of reversing the reforms instituted by his predecessor.

Therefore, the Conference stressed as a mandate for future actions to“continue developing and strengthening the Cuba solidarity movement in each one of our countries, struggling for unity and truth …. We demand that Cuba’s right to self-determination and sovereignty, as well as its right to decide the political system of its choice, be respected.”(Granma International, June 7)

Moreover, the struggle to maintain and enhance the independence and sovereignty of Cuba is linked with other countries within the region. In recognizing this reality the conference expanded its scope to encompass other states which have also been under pressure from successive U.S. administrations.

Therefore, the final declaration pledged support to “the causes of all sister countries struggling for a better world. In particular, we pledge our support to Puerto Rico in its struggle for self-determination, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and the people of Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina, and all peoples of the continent defending their sovereignty.”

In attendance as well from Cuba were Fernado González, president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) and Cuban Ambassador in Namibia, Giraldo Mazola.

Historical Tradition of Solidarity and Cooperation

In 1961 in the aftermath of the assassination of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, Cuban Minister of Economic Planning Che Guevara spoke out strongly in condemnation of the murderous act which was carried out by the U.S., Belgium and other imperialist states utilizing local surrogates. Che during 1965 toured Africa in an effort to build solidarity and make preparations for Cuban internationalists intervention in Congo aimed at supporting the revolutionary forces fighting for the ideals of Lumumba.

Although this mission was not successful, the experience taught profound lessons which laid the foundation for the deployment of Cuban military units a decade later in Angola in defense of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) beginning in October 1975. President Fidel Castro was requested to send support by Angolan President Agostino Neto in the face of an invasion by the South African Defense Forces (SADF), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the surrogate U.S.-backed UNITA and FNLA rebel groups designed to derail the genuine independence of the oil-rich former Portuguese colony.

Cuban Internationalists spent another 13 years in Angola where they assisted in defeating the SADF in a series of battles around Cuito Cuanavale in 1988. After the humiliating losses by the SADF, negotiations began which resulted in the liberation of Namibia, the release of South African political prisoners in 1990 and the transition to non-racial democratic rule in the citadel of apartheid settler-colonialism by 1994.

In recent years, Cuba has educated thousands of African students in universities in the Caribbean socialist state. These students are provided with free tuition and lodging.

During the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) pandemic of 2014, Cuba deployed hundreds of physicians and other healthcare workers to Liberia and Sierra Leone, two of the hardest hit West African states, which was instrumental in turning the tide in efforts to halt and eradicate the crisis. The U.S. was forced to recognize the role of Cuba in the battle against EVD which paved the way for the reopening of diplomatic relations.

Outside of the conference deliberations in Windhoek, the delegates visited historic sites including Heroes Acre and the Museum of Independence on June 7. The participants decided in its conclusion that the Federal Republic of Nigeria will be the venue of the next Continental African Conference in Solidarity with Cuba.
Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Sat. June 17, 2017--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
Listen to this edition of the Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

To hear the podcast of this program just click on the following URL:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/panafricanjournal/2017/06/18/pan-african-journal-worldwide-radio-broadcast

The program features our regular PANW report with dispatches on the horrendous fire at the Grenfell Towers in the West London area of North  Kensington where at least 30 people have been confirmed dead; a tribute to Cuba-Argentine Revolutionary Che Guevara has taken place in Santa Clara; Venezuelan President Nicolas Madura has lashed out at United States foreign policy toward Cuba; and a jury in Minnesota has acquitted the police officer who shot dead Philando Castile.

In the second hour we look at African American singer Ruby Elzy in a documentary about her life, times and contributions.

Finally we rebroadcast a Global Research News Hour program on the situation involving state-sponsored violence against the African American people.
Field Guidance to Newly-built Dental Sanitary Goods Factory
Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK and Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army, provided field guidance to the newly-built Dental Sanitary Goods Factory.

He personally initiated the building of the factory and solved all issues arising in its project. With a total floor space of more than 12 720 square metres, the factory produces tens of millions of toothpastes, gargles and dental sanitary implements.

Feasting his eyes on the overall view of the factory, Kim Jong Un said that another stylish factory has been built and that it looked good and smart as its outer walls are tiled with white and green colour suitable for the appearance of the sanitary goods producer.

After being briefed on the factory in front of maps showing its production diagram and its panoramic view, he went round an integrated production control room, toothpaste production process, gargle production process, dental sanitary goods production process, analysis room and various other places to learn in detail about construction and production there.

Saying that the factory is the one greatly conducive to promoting the people's health and the one to which he is attaching great importance, he gave instructions which would serve as guidelines in its management and operation.

Noting that the new factory had his wish realized to give varieties of good-quality dental sanitary goods to the people, he said with pleasure that he was very glad to do another worthwhile work for the people's long life in good health.

He said that the factory should keep production going at a high rate, provide people with good-quality dental sanitary goods without running out of stock and thus make them get benefit, adding that he would solve all issues arising in production. He stressed the need to make a report to him on the knotty issues in good time.

The Party has directed big efforts to the work for consolidating the material and technical foundation of the public health sector in order to give full play to the advantages of the socialist healthcare system of our country without an equal in the world in which the Party and the state are taking care of the life and health of the people in a responsible manner, he said, underscoring the need for our people to fully enjoy happy life, keenly feeling the benefits of the socialist healthcare system.

He expressed expectation that the officials and employees of the factory would devote their unsparing efforts, passion and wisdom to the drive for making contribution to promoting the people's health.
Accompanying him were Hwang Pyong So, Pak Pong Ju, Choe Thae Bok, O Su Yong, An Jong Su, So Hong Chan, Jo Yong Won and Ma Won Chun.

KCNA
Spokesman for CPRC Urges S. Korean Chief Executive to Have Proper Attitude  Toward North-South Relations
A spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC) of the DPRK gave an answer to a question raised by KCNA on June 21 as regards the fact that the present south Korean chief executive is taking issue with the DPRK.

The present chief executive of south Korea continues sinister acts while crying out for implementing the north-south agreement and settling the issues through dialogue after coming to power, the spokesman said, and went on:

In his official and unofficial appearances, in particular, the chief executive of south Korea unhesitatingly spat out wrong words taking issue with the DPRK over its measures for bolstering up nuclear force, claiming that "it is only international isolation and economic difficulties for the north to get from provocation" and "it is necessary to pressurize and apply sanctions against the north through strong cooperation with the international community", contrary to his commitment while talking about the improved north-south relations in the past "presidential election".

In a "congratulatory speech" at an "event marking the 17th anniversary of the June 15 south-north summit" he groundlessly slandered the north, claiming that "the north's nuclear and missile development serves as a serious concern threatening peace and stability of the region and international community" and "the north differs in words and acts by highly modernizing nuclear weapons and missiles while urging the south to respect and implement the June 15 Joint Declaration and the October 4 Declaration."

It is needless to say that all these facts are trickeries to shift the blame for not improving the north-south relations to the DPRK.

The south Korean chief executive is working hard to save his face by finding fault with the DPRK.

But it is a self-destructive act of pushing him into a quagmire.

He should stop reckless and foolish words and deeds irritating the other party and have a proper attitude toward the north-south relations, to begin with.

He should make a responsible start in the fatal crossroads of whether he would leave clean trace in the national history by improving the north-south relations with the stand of By Our Nation Itself and according to the mindset of the candlelight demonstrators or follow in the miserable footsteps of his predecessors by fawning favour with foreign forces and conservatives.

KCNA
Anniversary of Kim Jong Il's Start of Work at Party Central Committee Marked
KCNA

Service personnel and people of the DPRK significantly celebrated the 53rd anniversary of Chairman Kim Jong Il's start of work at the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea.

On the holiday service personnel and people from all walks of life, including youth and schoolchildren, visited the statues of President Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on Mansu Hill and different places and their smiling portraits to pay tribute to them.

Performances were given by the central art organizations at theatres in Pyongyang.

A concert was given by the National Symphony Orchestra at the Moranbong Theatre, a musical dance and poem "Arirang Story" at the Ponghwa Art Theatre, a performance "Eternal Echo" by the Samjiyon Band of the Mansudae Art Troupe at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre and a drama "Red Snow Falls" by the National Theatrical Troupe at the National Theatre.

Colourful pieces were put on the stages of the Pyongyang Circus Theatre and the Magic Theatre of the National Acrobatic Troupe and artistes of the Phibada Opera Troupe gave a performance in front of the Pyongyang Grand Theatre.

Artistes of provincial art troupes gave performances at all provincial seats.