Wednesday, October 29, 2014

AFRICAN RENAISSANCE: Log On And Learn - The Tech Geeks At Funda Working To Transform Africa's Education!


October 29, 2014 - AFRICA
- Fresh faced and full of energy, five recent graduates sit around the conference room table. They all hail from a different African country, and they all have big dreams about revamping education in their continent for a digital era.

These are the headquarters of Funda in Cape Town, an online training platform that's been partnering with universities in South Africa to provide short e-courses for users. Helped by a single private investor, the tech education portal is looking to harness a growing demand for online learning by allowing students to log into classes remotely.

"At Funda, we develop learning management systems and provide content development services to higher institutions to take their courses online so that the general public can access them at a cheaper price," says Nigerian-born Kolawole Olajide, one of Funda's founders.

The flexibility that comes with e-learning is just one of the many reasons Olajide says the online education tool has found success.

"It's responsive to the students' schedules," says the 22-year-old entrepreneur. "But also managers who want to do courses but are too busy to do them can now use [Funda] and sign in when they get back from work and access the resources online."

Olajide came up with the concept for Funda -- which means "to learn" in Zulu -- at university when he found he couldn't take school home. He had hoped to start the company in his homeland of Nigeria, but the obstacles were too great.

"It was very difficult because they were not digitally ready," he recalls. "They did not understand what I was trying to do. The second problem I faced was internet penetration in the country. I thought South Africa was more stable so Funda had a higher chance of success there because many people already have the Internet."
Alongside four other young entrepreneurs -- Kennedy Kitheka (Kenya), Jason Muloongo (Zambia), Sameer Rawjee (South Africa) and Kumbirai Gundani (Zimbabwe) -- the e-learning portal took shape and each founder provided a different perspective for the startup.

WATCH:
Funda - Online revolution for training.




None are over the age of 25, yet these innovators are simply doing what is natural to the millennial generation -- using technology to find solutions to problems they've experienced.

"We bring together the problems we've seen in different parts of Africa and we are all trying to create together solutions to the problems we have experienced in different parts of the continent," says Olajide.
He adds: "I was aware of user experience because user experience of technology in Nigeria was not very good. One of the other partners was keen on developing the mobile application because he said in his area of the world, there are more mobile users. So we are bringing together solutions made by the problems we've faced in Africa."

Olajide explains that Funda offers a free mobile app that can be downloaded to a user's smartphone. Students can access the e-learning portal via a keycode provided by the university they are registered to.

"At the moment, [mobile] is very limited. Mobile phones are good for getting your results, educators checking attendance reports and all that stuff. But the real core experience is from the desktop machine."

Since its launch in 2009, Funda has been recognized by several international bodies, including the United Nations Development Programme and the World Economic Forum. It has also received a number of accolades, including the "Best Tech Innovation and Education" award at the U.N.'s World Youth Summit in 2012 and Mazar's "Best Sustainable Business Model" prize.

WATCH: Welcome to the next generation education.



Looking ahead, Olajide has big plans for the startup. "Our major goal is to be a major education technology provider in Africa," he says. "So we're just trying to strategically position ourselves, so when Africa is ready we would also be ready."

For the time being however, the company's main focus is creating sustainable growth before proceeding to roll out the platform across the continent.

As for Olajide, the passionate Nigerian says he is determined to keep on working to help increase accessibility to education in the continent.

"The future of the continent lies in how educated people are," he says." All the major problems can be solved with education -- education is the key to the future." - CNN.






Sunday, October 26, 2014

EUROPEAN VAMPIRISM: Viral Fever Bioterrorism - Dr. Cyril Broderick, Liberian Scientist Says The United States And Other Western Countries Are Responsible For The Ebola Outbreak In West Africa!


October 26, 2014 - WEST AFRICA - Dr. Cyril Broderick, A Liberian scientist and a former professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Liberia’s College of Agriculture and Forestry says the West, particularly the U.S. is responsible for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Dr. Broderick claims the following in an exclusive article published in the Daily Observer based in Monrovia, Liberia. He wrote the following:
The US Department of Defense (DoD) is funding Ebola trials on humans, trials which started just weeks before the Ebola outbreak in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The reports continue and state that the DoD gave a contract worth $140 million dollars to Tekmira, a Canadian pharmaceutical company, to conduct Ebola research. This research work involved injecting and infusing healthy humans with the deadly Ebola virus. Hence, the DoD is listed as a collaborator in a “First in Human” Ebola clinical trial (NCT02041715, which started in January 2014 shortly before an Ebola epidemic was declared in West Africa in March.
Is it possible that the United States Department of Defense (DOD) and other Western countries are directly responsible for infecting Africans with the Ebola virus? Dr. Broderick claims that the U.S. government has a research laboratory located in a town called Kenema in Sierra Leone that studies what he calls “viral fever bioterrorism”, It is also the town where he acknowledges that is the “epicentre of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.” Is it a fact? Is Dr. Broderick a conspiracy theorist? He says that “there is urgent need for affirmative action in protecting the less affluent of poorer countries, especially African citizens, whose countries are not as scientifically and industrially endowed as the United States and most Western countries, sources of most viral or bacterial GMOs that are strategically designed as biological weapons.” He also asks an important question when he says “It is most disturbing that the U. S. Government has been operating a viral hemorrhagic fever bioterrorism research laboratory in Sierra Leone. Are there others?”

Well, Mr. Broderick’s claims seem to be true. After all, the U.S. government has been experimenting with deadly diseases on human beings for a long time, history tells us so. One example is Guatemala. Between 1946 and 1948, the United States government under President Harry S. Truman in collaboration with Guatemalan President Juan José Arévalo and his health officials deliberately infected more than 1500 soldiers, prostitutes, prisoners and even mental patients with syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and chancroid (a bacterial sexual infection) out of more than 5500 Guatemalan people who participated in the experiments. The worst part of it is that none of the test subjects infected with the diseases ever gave informed consent. The Boston Globe published the discovery made by Medical historian and professor at Wellesley College, Susan M. Reverby in 2010 called ‘Wellesley professor unearths a horror: Syphilis experiments in Guatemala.’ It stated how she came across her discovery:
Picking through musty files in a Pennsylvania archive, a Wellesley College professor made a heart-stopping discovery: US government scientists in the 1940s deliberately infected hundreds of Guatemalans with syphilis and gonorrhea in experiments conducted without the subjects’ permission. Medical historian Susan M. Reverby happened upon the documents four or five years ago while researching the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study and later shared her findings with US government officials.

The unethical research was not publicly disclosed until yesterday, when President Obama and two Cabinet secretaries apologized to Guatemala’s government and people and pledged to never repeat the mistakes of the past — an era when it was not uncommon for doctors to experiment on patients without their consent.
After Reverby’s discovery, the Obama administration apparently gave an apology to then-President Alvaro Colom according to the Boston Globe:
Yesterday, Obama called President Álvaro Colom Caballeros of Guatemala to apologize, and Obama’s spokesman told reporters the experiment was “tragic, and the United States by all means apologizes to all those who were impacted by this.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had called Colom Thursday night to break the news to him. In her conversation with the Guatemalan president, Clinton expressed “her personal outrage and deep regret that such reprehensible research could occur,’’ said Arturo Valenzuela, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs. 
The study in Guatemala was led by John Cutler, a US health service physician who also took part in the controversial Tuskegee Syphilis experiments which began in the 1930’s. Researchers wanted to study the effects of a group of antibiotics called penicillin on affected individuals. The prevention and treatment of syphilis and other venereal diseases were also included in the experimentation. Although they were treated with antibiotics, more than 83 people had died according to BBC news in 2011 following a statement issued by Dr Amy Gutmann, head of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues:
The Commission said some 5,500 Guatemalans were involved in all the research that took place between 1946 and 1948. Of these, some 1,300 were deliberately infected with syphilis, gonorrhoea or another sexually transmitted disease, chancroid. And of that group only about 700 received some sort of treatment. According to documents the commission had studied, at least 83 of the 5,500 subjects had died by the end of 1953.
Washington’s reaction to the report is a farce. The apology made to Guatemala’s government was for the sake of public relations. Washington knows about its human experimentations in the past with deadly diseases conducted by government-funded laboratories that are known to be harmful to the public. The U.S. government is guilty in conducting numerous medical experiments on people not only in Guatemala but in other countries and on its own territory. As the Boston Globe report mentioned, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study occurred between 1932 and 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service to study the “natural progression” of untreated syphilis in the African American population. The U.S. Public Health Service and the Tuskegee Institute collaborated in 1932 and enrolled 600 poor sharecroppers from Macon County, Alabama to study the syphilis infection. However, it was documented that at least 400 of those had the disease (they were never informed that they actually had syphilis) while the remaining 200 did not. They received free medical care, food and even free burial insurance for participating in the study. Documents revealed that they were told that they had “bad blood” which meant that they had various medical conditions besides syphilis. The Tuskegee scientists continued to study the participants without treating their illnesses and they also withheld much-needed information from the participants about penicillin, which proved to be effective in treating Syphilis and other venereal diseases. The test subjects were under the impression that they were receiving free health care from the U.S. government while they were deliberately being lied to by the same administrators who were conducting the tests. Washington is fully aware of its human experimentations with deadly diseases. The government of Guatemala also knew about the Syphilis experiments according to the Boston Globe:
A representative of the Guatemalan government said his nation will investigate, too — looking in part at the culpability of officials in that country. The records of the experiment suggest that Guatemalan government officials were fully aware of the tests, sanctioned them, and may have done so in exchange for stockpiles of penicillin.

DR. PHIL VALENTINE: Ebola & The European Endgame - Vampirization Of Africa Through The Hegelian Dialectic Of A Deadly Virus.


However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published the study ‘Fact Sheet on the 1946-1948 U.S. Public Health Service Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Inoculation Study’ and was forced to admit what happened in Guatemala during the syphilis experiments:
While conducting historical research on the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis, Professor Susan Reverby of Wellesley College recently discovered the archived papers of the late Dr. John Cutler, a U.S. Public Health Service medical officer and a Tuskegee investigator. The papers described another unethical study supported by the U.S. government in which highly vulnerable populations in Guatemala were intentionally infected with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The study, conducted between 1946 and 1948, was done with the knowledge of Dr. Cutler’s superiors and was funded by a grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health to the Pan American Sanitary Bureau (which became the Pan American Health Organization) to several Guatemalan government ministries. The study had never been published.
The U.S. government admitted to its wrongdoing, 62 years too late. What Dr. Broderick wrote is not conspiratorial in any sense. The U.S. government has been involved in bioterrorism; Guatemala is a case in point. Dr. Broderick summarized what average people can do to prevent governments, especially those from the West from creating and exposing populations from diseases they experiment with in laboratories:
The challenge is global, and we request assistance from everywhere, including China, Japan, Australia, India, Germany, Italy, and even kind-hearted people in the U.S., France, the U.K., Russia, Korea, Saudi Arabia, and anywhere else whose desire is to help. The situation is bleaker than we on the outside can imagine, and we must provide assistance however we can. To ensure a future that has less of this kind of drama, it is important that we now demand that our leaders and governments be honest, transparent, fair, and productively engaged. They must answer to the people. Please stand up to stop Ebola testing and the spread of this dastardly disease.
After Guatemala’s ordeal with the U.S. government who deliberately infected people with syphilis, West African nations should be extremely skeptical about the U.S. government’s actions combating Ebola. Professor Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois, College of Law questions the Obama administration’s actions in West Africa. RIA Novosti recently interviewed Boyle and he said the following:
US government agencies have a long history of carrying out allegedly defensive biological warfare research at labs in Liberia and Sierra Leone. This includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is now the point agency for managing the Ebola spill-over into the US,” Prof. Francis Boyle said.

Why has the Obama administration dispatched troops to Liberia when they have no training to provide medical treatment to dying Africans? How did Zaire/Ebola get to West Africa from about 3,500km away from where it was first identified in 1976?”
That’s a good question for Washington, but would the public get any answers? Not anytime soon, since it took more than 62 years for the  Guatemala syphilis experiments to be exposed to the public, not by the US government, by a medical historian. - Global Research.





COSMIC MELANIN: The Waters Of NU - Finally Detected, Elusive Dark Matter May Be Streaming From Glaring Sun?!

The outer image of the Sun's coronal mass ejection on May 9, 2014 (Image from www.nasa.gov)
October 26, 2014 - SPACE - A European space observatory picked up an unusual signal which British astronomers believe to be the first direct detection of dark matter’s signature. The finding could be a historic breakthrough in our understanding of the universe.
Invisible dark matter – which neither emits or absorbs light – is believed to account for 85 percent of the matter in the universe, and is thought to explain the gravitational pull that keeps galaxies from flying apart.

It has been a mystery for over 30 years – but now a potential clue has been found by scientists in Leicester, UK. An inexplicable signal was discovered in data obtained by nearly 15 years of measurements by the European Space Agency’s orbiting XMM-Newton observatory. A study by astronomers at the University of Leicester will be published on Monday in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society journal.


A sketch (not to scale) showing axions (blue) streaming out from the Sun, converting in the Earth's magnetic field (red) into X-rays (orange),
which are then detected by the XMM-Newton observatory. (University of Leicester image)

“The X-ray background – the sky, after the bright X-ray sources are removed – appears to be unchanged whenever you look at it,” explained senior paper author Andy Read in a press release. “However, we have discovered a seasonal signal in this X-ray background, which has no conventional explanation, but is consistent with the discovery of axions.”

Axion is a hypothetical dark matter particle, which has been searched for – unsuccessfully so far – by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), located in Switzerland. If the Leicester team has indeed detected axion, the particles are incredibly light, with a mass of around a hundred billionth of an electron.

“If the model is right then it could well be axions that we are seeing and they could explain a component of the dark matter that everyone thinks exists,” Read told the Guardian.

WATCH: The case of the missing satellites.




The researchers noticed a curious background signal component that was greater in summer than in winter. The intensity of x-rays increased by approximately 10 percent whenever the spacecraft observed the boundary of Earth’s magnetic field, facing towards the Sun.

After “all other possible causes of the variability [had been] carefully considered and conclusively ruled out,” the astronomers proposed a new idea which stood out from traditional physics. In fact, Read described it as an “exotic” idea.

Axions are “indeed produced in the core of the Sun and do indeed convert to soft x-rays in the magnetic field of the Earth, giving rise to a significant, seasonally-variable component” of the background radiation, Professor Fraser explained in the paper.

Martin Barstow, president of the Royal Astronomical Society, said: “This is an amazing result. If confirmed, it will be the first direct detection and identification of the elusive dark matter particles and will have a fundamental impact on our theories of the universe.”

The findings may take several years to check, but Read said that a similar signal had been detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. “In a few years, we might be able to double the dataset from XMM-Newton and look at this with more precision,” he said.

The Leicester astronomers shared their excitement over the discoveries that “could be truly ground-breaking, potentially opening a window to new physics, and could have huge implications, not only for our understanding of the true x-ray sky, but also for identifying the dark matter that dominates the mass content of the cosmos.”

The notion of dark matter's existence was first proposed by Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky in the 1930s. For decades, scientists studying dark matter were underestimating its vast presence in the universe. It wasn't until 2012 that a new mass-measuring technique revealed that there should be “plenty” of dark matter near the Sun. - RT.






AFRICAN VOICES: Victoria Kisyombe - Tanzanian Trailblazer Empowers Women Through Micro-Financing!


October 26, 2014 - TANZANIA - Sometimes entrepreneurship isn’t planned for, it emerges. For Victoria Kisyombe, entrepreneurship emerged after tragedy. When her husband died unexpectedly in 1991, life seemed to come to an end for Victoria and her three young children as well. It was the darkest time she can remember, marked by social and economic challenges.

Victoria didn’t own property in her name. She didn’t have collateral or credit history. She was left with a single cow, called Sero. But Victoria managed to turn Sero into a source of consistent income: she sold the cow’s milk and sustained her family. Slowly, she was able to accumulate savings and rebuild her life. In Sero, Victoria had one asset, but it was a productive one, and that made all the difference.

Victoria is educated and resourceful, but she knew that many women find themselves in difficult circumstances without access to productive assets like Sero. “I saw that there were other women, other widows—some of them had not been to school like I had been and they were less privileged than I had been—and I thought: ‘How are they managing?’” Globally, women’s entrepreneurship, economic independence, and ability to contribute to economic growth is often restricted by customary law and financing regulations that require tangible collateral. In Tanzania, where 33 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, women struggle to open and grow businesses without the collateral needed to qualify for loans. More than 90 percent of women do not own property due to the country’s customary laws, which in most cases supersede other laws; this exclusion propels many women into a cycle of poverty.

Victoria saw an opportunity to circumvent the restrictions that limit women’s economic participation. She redesigned the traditional model of micro-finance to work for Tanzanian women. In 2002, she opened SELFINA in Dar es Salaam and began loaning and leasing productive assets. The leased assets enable women to generate income sustainably, and at the end of the lease a client owns the asset in her own name. It becomes collateral that qualifies her for a traditional bank loan.

WATCH: Dr. Victoria Kisyombe.



Twelve years later, Victoria and her team have provided 25,000 leases to women, USD $16 million in credit, impacted more than 200,000 people and created 125,000 jobs. A repayment rate of 95 percent enabled the company to keep growing; to serve more women and their families.

SELFINA is named after Sero, the cow – Sero Lease and Finance Limited – and has been a catalyst for women’s entrepreneurship, responsible for the launch of a range of small businesses and enterprises. Victoria leases just about everything – tractors, photocopiers, ovens, and livestock – and her clients are a diverse group including florists, caterers, clothing designers, and farmers.

A majority of Victoria’s clients, 60 percent, live in rural areas. Many are widows and young women who wouldn’t otherwise have access to the opportunity SELFINA provides. Victoria has designed a solution that meets her community’s needs, and she has built a model recognized by the World Bank and World Economic Forum.

Her entrepreneurship fuels bigger dreams, bigger goals. “If I can change the life of one person it makes a whole difference because behind that person there is a whole family. It’s a family, it’s a society, it’s Tanzania.” Victoria plans to open offices across Tanzania and has her sights set on expanding to other countries in East Africa. - Vital Voices.





BLACK EVENTS: The Africa Land Conference On Land Grabs - October 27th To 30th In Johannesburg, South Africa!


October 26, 2014 - SOUTH AFRICA - The first Africa Conference on Land Grab 2014 hereby invites you to submit your full paper(s) for the Conference, taking place on the 27th – 30th October 2014, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The closing date for full paper(s) submission is the 15th of June 2014.

The conference will explore the phenomenon of land grab. Speakers, panelists and papers will look at country case studies, challenges, advantages and disadvantages of the sale and lease of large swathes of arable land to powerful foreign individuals, multinationals and governments. What would be the implications of these actions fifty years down the line? Various scenarios will be explored and considered.




A reported 70 million hectares of Africa’s arable land has been bought or leased to foreign companies over the past three years. Often these large-scale transactions are ostensibly carried out as part of efforts against food insecurity and employment creation. Africa currently holds 70% of the world’s uncultivated arable land, most of which is now being taken over at a very fast rate.

It is believed that the purchase of land is directly linked to an agenda to own and control Africa’s water. Last year, Nestlé’s CEO argued that water should not be a free commodity but rather a resource that should be controlled and marketed by private individuals. We fear that twenty years from today, communities may not have access to their own fresh waters if appropriate measures are not taken to protect the interests of all stakeholders including investors and communities.

The purpose of this conference will be to Gain a better understanding and awareness of the land deals and their long term implications for the African continent, To promote accountability and community involvement (including women) in the sale of land and the beneficiation that ensues for communities, To create a platform that would enable investors, governments and communities to reach a consensus on how best to ensure sustainability and mutual benefits and to strengthen land governance and cadastral capacity by engaging African governments and the African Union on synchronising guidelines on land governance. The conference will be followed by regional and national level engagements in order to implement the key recommendations of the conference.




The Africa Conference on Land Grabs is a gathering of people such as Land and Environment experts, civil society organisations, International development partners, Traditional rulers, Governments, Media, Resource experts, legal experts, policy experts, investors, women and gender institutions, corporate sectors, community members, and members of parliament. 


This conference will take place from the 27-30 of October 2014 at the Midrand Conference Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa.

You are therefore cordially invited to attend this very important conference

The registration details are found on our website on:

www.africalandgrabs.co.za.

Email: media@africalandgrabs.co.za
Tel: +27 (0) 11 050 1527


- Africa Land Grabs.



AFRICAN TECHNOLOGY: Chad Light - Two Kenyan Brothers Launch Africa's First Wearable Tech Startup!


October 26, 2014 - KENYA -A team of two guys in Nairobi are working on a startup called Clad Light with plans to launch probably Africa’s first wearable and interactive electronics.

Founded by Joseph Muchene, a Certified Public Accountant – Kenya, and Charles Muchene,with a Bachelors of Engineering in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from The Technical University of Kenya, the Clad Light brothers are working on wearable electronics to help bicycle riders in East Africa to improve their visibility, day or night, while clearly showing intents to turn left, right or brake to avoid road accidents, which stand at over 3,000 to 10,000 a year according to WHO.

Charles told TechMoran that Clad Light was inspired by their dream for a road-safe society.

“There’s an increase in ‘bodabodas’ (public transport motorcycles) in Kenya, and as a result many inexperienced youths are rapidly acquiring one for business. In turn, there is a high level of road accidents involving these motorbikes,” he said. “Since the law requires that all these riders to wear a reflective jacket, we aim to launch a line of indicator reflective jackets for them.”




The startup, under incubation at Nailab, a Narobi-based incubator-accelerator says its reflective, indicator jackets would be used not just by ‘bodaboda’ riders but could be used for safety at assembly plants, warehouses, machine rooms among others. It’s major target however is the increasing population of the youthful motorcycle owners, motorcycle bodaboda riders and fitness enthusiasts.

The indicator jackets are fitted with a transmission device which is integrated to the motorcycle’s lighting or indication system. When a rider brakes, the device relays the signals to the jacket wirelessly and turns on the lights on the jacket to warn the approaching car or rider that his colleague is about to either branch-off or stop. A single jacket can be used by anyone on any motorbike.

WATCH: Charles Muchene is the co-founder of Clad Light Limited, a Nairobi-based company that has gone from idea to reality in just 1 year.


 
Though in Africa, they might be the first to do this,  Li & Co, a Cambridge-based brand, launched a similar electronic cycling jacket May last year. The jacket’s sensor follows a wearer’s arms movement to indicate and flashes amber lights automatically to alert other road users using an Intelligent Motion-Activated Signalling System (iMASS). So whenever a wearer raises their arm, the  light signal flashes for around 5secs to show that he or she is turning.

Clad Light might not have launched their jackets yet but in two years,  Charles anticipates the startup would have covered the East African region, supplying and maintaining  indicator reflective jackets. They are looking for seed funding to put Clad Light on steroids. - Tech Moran.







THE WHITE SUPREMACY PARADIGM: Global Military Interventions - European Imperialism And Vampirism Through The United States War Machine!

Since its creation America has been at a constant state of war with other nations

October 26, 2014 - UNITED STATES - To the growing army of critics of US military intervention, who also reject the mendacious claims by American officials and their apologists of ‘world leadership’, Washington is engaged in ‘empire-building”.

But the notion that the US is building an empire, by engaging in wars to exploit and plunder countries’ markets, resources and labor, defies the realities of the past two decades. US wars, including invasions, bombings, occupations, sanctions, coups and clandestine operations have not resulted in the expansion of markets, greater control and exploitation of resources or the ability to exploit cheap labor. Instead US wars have destroyed enterprises, reduced access to raw materials, killed, wounded or displaced productive workers around the world, and limited access to lucrative investment sites and markets via sanctions.

In other words, US global military interventions and wars have done the exact opposite of what all previous empires have pursued: Washington has exploited (and depleted) the domestic economy to expand militarily abroad instead of enriching it.

Why and how the US global wars differ from those of previous empires requires us to examine (1) the forces driving overseas expansion; (2) the political conceptions accompanying the conquest, the displacement of incumbent rulers and the seizure of power and; (3) the reorganization of the conquered states and the accompanying economic and social structures to sustain long-term neo-colonial relations.

Empire Building: The Past

Europe built durable, profitable and extensive empires, which enriched the ‘mother country’, stimulated local industry, reduced unemployment and ‘trickled down’ wealth in the form of better wages to privileged sectors of the working class. Imperial military expeditions were preceded by the entry of major trade enterprises (British East India Company) and followed by large-scale manufacturing, banking and commercial firms. Military invasions and political takeovers were driven by competition with economic rivals in Europe, and later, by the US and Japan.

The goal of military interventions was to monopolize control over the most lucrative economic resources and markets in the colonized regions. Imperial repression was directed at creating a docile low wage labor force and buttressing subordinate local collaborators or client-rulers who facilitated the flow of profits, debt payments, taxes and export revenues back to the empire.

Imperial wars were the beginning, not the end, of ‘empire building’. What followed these wars of conquest was the incorporation of pre-existing elites into subordinate positions in the administration of the empire. The ‘sharing of revenues’, between the imperial economic enterprises and pre-existing elites, was a crucial part of ‘empire building’. The imperial powers sought to ‘instrumentalize’ existing religious, political, and economic elites’ and harness them to the new imperial-centered division of labor. Pre-existing economic activity, including local manufacturers and agricultural producers, which competed with imperial industrial exporters, were destroyed and replaced by malleable local traders and importers (compradors). In summary, the military dimensions of empire building were informed by economic interests in the mother country. The occupation was pre-eminently concerned with preserving local collaborative powers and, above all, restoring and expanding the intensive and extensive exploitation of local resources and labor, as well as the capture and saturation of local markets with goods from the imperial center.

“Empire-building” Today

The results of contemporary US military interventions and invasions stand in stark contrast with those of past imperial powers. The targets of military aggression are selected on the basis of ideological and political criteria. Military action does not follow the lead of ‘pioneer’ economic entrepreneurs – like the British East India Company. Military action is not accompanied by large-scale, long-term capitalist enterprises. Multi-national construction companies of the empire, which build great military bases are a drain on the imperial treasury.

Contemporary US intervention does not seek to secure and take over the existing military and civilian state apparatus; instead the invaders fragment the conquered state, decimate its cadres, professionals and experts at all levels, thus providing an entry for the most retrograde ethno-religious, regional, tribal and clan leaders to engage in intra-ethnic, sectarian wars against each other, in other words – chaos. Even the Nazis, in their expansion phase, chose to rule through local collaborator elites and maintained established administrative structures at all levels.

With US invasions, entire existing socio-economic structures are undermined, not ‘taken over’: all productive activity is subject to the military priorities of leaders bent on permanently crippling the conquered state and its advanced economic, administrative, educational, cultural and social sectors. While this is militarily successful in the short-run, the medium and long-term results are non-functioning states, not a sustained inflow of plunder and expanding market for an empire. Instead what we have is a chain of US military bases surrounded by a sea of hostile, largely unemployed populations and warring ethno-religious groups in decimated economies.

The US claims to ‘world leadership’ is based exclusively on failed-state empire building. Nevertheless, the dynamic for continuing to expand into new regions, to militarily and politically intervene and establish new client entities continues. And, most importantly, this expansionist dynamic further undermines domestic economic interests, which, theoretically and historically, form the basis for empire. We, therefore, have imperialism without empire, a vampire state preying on the vulnerable and devouring its own in the process.

Empire or Vampire: The Results of US Global Warfare

Empires, throughout history, have violently seized political power and exploited the riches and resources (both material and human) of the targeted regions. Over time, they would consolidate a ‘working relation’, insuring the ever-increasing flow of wealth into the mother country and the expanding presence of imperial enterprises in the colony. Contemporary US military interventions have had the opposite effect after every recent major military conquest and occupation.

Under Saddam Hussein, the Republic of Iraq was a major oil producer and profitable partner for major US oil companies, as well as a lucrative market for US exports. It was a stable, unified secular state. The first Gulf War in the 1990’s led to the first phase of its fragmentation with the de facto establishment of a Kurdish mini-state in the north under US protection. The US withdrew its military forces but imposed brutal economic sanctions limiting economic reconstruction from the devastation of the first Gulf War. The second US-led invasion and full-scale occupation in 2003 devastated the economy and dismantled the state dismissing tens of thousands of experienced civil servants, teachers and police. This led to utter social collapse and fomented ethno-religious warfare leading to the killing, wounding or displacement of millions of Iraqis. The result of GW Bush’s conquest of Baghdad was a ‘failed state’. US oil and energy companies lost billions of dollars in trade and investment and the US economy was pushed into recession.


Afghanistan: Endless Wars, Endless Losses

American soldiers bringing democracy to Iraq
The US war against Afghanistan began with the arming, financing and political support of Islamist jihadi-fundamentalists in 1979. They succeeded in destroying and dismantling a secular, national government. With the decision to invade Afghanistan in October 2001 the US became an occupier in Southwest Asia.

For the next thirteen years, the US-puppet regime of Hamad Karzai and the ‘NATO coalition’ occupation forces proved incapable of defeating the Taliban guerrilla army. Billions of dollars were spent devastating the economy and impoverishing the vast majority of Afghans. Only the opium trade flourished. The effort to create an army loyal to the puppet regime failed. The forced retreat of US armed forces beginning in 2014 signals the bitter demise of US ‘empire building’ in Southwest Asia.

Libya: From Lucrative Trading Partner to Failed State

Libya, under President Gadhafi, was evolving into a major US and European trading partner and influential power in Africa. The regime signed large-scale, long-term contracts with major international oil companies which were backed by a stable secular government. The relationship with the US and EU was profitable. The US opted to impose a ‘regime change’ through massive US-EU missile and bombing strikes and the arming of a motley collection of Islamist terrorists, ex-pat neo-liberals and tribal militias. While these attacks succeeded in killing President Gadhafi and most of his family (including many of his grandchildren) and dismantling the secular Libyan government and administrative infrastructure, the country was ripped apart by tribal war-lord conflicts, political disintegration and the utter destruction of the economy. Oil investors fled. Over one million Libyans and immigrant workers were displaced. The US and EU ‘partners-in-regime-change’ have even fled their own embassies in Tripoli – while the Libyan ‘parliament’ operates off-shore from a casino boat. None of this devastation would have been possible under President Gadhafi. The US vampire bled its new prize, Libya, but certainly could not incorporate it into a profitable ‘empire’. Not only were its oil resources denied to the empire, but even oil exports disappeared. Not even an imperial military base has been secured in North Africa!

Syria: Wars on Behalf of Terrorists not Empire

Washington and its EU allies backed an armed uprising in Syria hoping to install a puppet regime and bring Damascus into their “empire”. The mercenary assaults have caused the deaths of nearly 200,000 Syrians, the displacement of over 30% of the population and the seizure of the Syrian oil fields by the Sunni extremist army, ISIS. ISIS has decimated the pro-US mercenary army, recruiting and arming thousands of terrorists from around the world It invaded neighboring Iraq conquering the northern third of that country. This was the ultimate result of the deliberate US dismantling of the Iraqi state in 2003.

The US strategy, once again, is to arm Islamist extremists to overthrow the secular Bashar Assad regime in Damascus and then to discard them for a more pliable client. The strategy ‘boomeranged’ on Washington. ISIS devastated the ineffective Iraqi armed forces of the Maliki regime in Baghdad and America’s much over-rated Peshmerga proxy ‘fighters’ in Iraqi ‘Kurdistan’. Washington’s mercenary war in Syria didn’t expand the ‘empire’; indeed it undermined existing imperial outposts.

The Ukrainian Power Grab, Russian Sanctions and Empire Building

In the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR, the US and EU incorporated the Baltic, Eastern European and Balkan ex-communist countries into their orbit. This clearly violated major agreements with Russia, by incorporating most of the neo-liberal regimes into NATO and bringing NATO forces to the very border of Russia. During the corrupt regime of Boris Yeltsin, the ‘West’ absolutely looted the Russian economy in co-operation with local gangster – oligarchs, who took up EU or Israeli citizenship to recycle their pillaged wealth. The demise of the vassal Yeltsin regime and the ascent and recovery of Russia under Vladimir Putin led the US and EU to formulate a strategy to deepen and extend its ‘empire’ by seizing power in the Caucuses and the Ukraine. A power and land grab by the puppet regime in Georgia attacking Russian forces in Ossetia in 2012 was decisively beaten back. This was a mere dress rehearsal for the coup in Kiev. In late 2013-early 2014, the US financed a violent rightwing putsch ousting the elected government and imposing a hand-picked pro-NATO client to assume power in Kiev.

The new pro-US regime moved quickly to purge all independent, democratic, federalist, bilingual and anti-NATO voices especially among the bi-lingual citizens concentrated in the South-Eastern Ukraine. The coup and the subsequent purge provoked a major armed uprising in the southeast, which successfully resisted the invading NATO-backed neo-fascist armed forces and private armies of the oligarchs. The failure of the Kiev regime to subdue the resistence fighters of the Donbass region resulted in a multi-pronged US-EU intervention designed to isolate, weaken and undermine the resistance. First and foremost they attempted to pressure Russia to close its borders on the eastern front where hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians eventually fled the bombardment. Secondly, the US and EU applied economic sanctions on Russia to abandon its political support for the southeast region’s democratic and federalist demands. Thirdly, it sought to use the Ukraine conflict as a pretext for a major military build-up on Russia’s borders, expanding NATO missile sites and organizing an elite rapid interventionist military force capable of bolstering a faltering puppet regime or backing a future NATO sponsored putsch against any adversary.

The Kiev regime is economically bankrupt. Its war against its own civilians in the southeast has devastated Ukraine’s economy. Hundreds of thousands of skilled professionals, workers and their families have fled to Russia. Kiev’s embrace of the EU has resulted in the breakdown of vital gas and oil agreements with Russia, undermining the Ukraine’s principle source of energy and heating with winter only months away. Kiev cannot pay its debts and faces default. The rivalries between neo-fascists and neo-liberals in Kiev will further erode the regime. In sum, the US-EU power grab in the Ukraine has not led to the effective ‘expansion of empire’; rather it has ushered in the total destruction of an emerging economy and precipitated a sharp reversal of financial, trade and investment relations with Russia and Ukraine. The economic sanctions against Russia exacerbate the EU current economic crisis. The belligerent posture of military confrontation toward Russia will result in an increase in military spending among the EU states and further divert scarce economic resources form job creation and social programs. The loss by significant sectors of the EU of agricultural export markets, as well as the loss of several billion-dollar military-industrial contracts with Russia, certainly weakens, rather than expands, the ‘empire’ as an economic force.

Iran: 100 Billion Dollar Punitive Sanctions Don’t Build Empires

The US-EU sanctions on Iran carry a very high political, economic and political price tag. They do not strengthen empire, if we understand ‘empire’ to mean the expansion of multi-national corporations, and increasing access to oil and gas resources to ensure stable, cheap energy for strategic economic sectors within the imperial center.

The economic war on Iran has been at the behest of US allies, including the Gulf Monarchies and especially Israel. These are dubious ‘allies’ for US ‘empire’ . . . widely reviled potentates and a racist regime which manage to exact tribute from the imperial center!

In Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, Iran has demonstrated its willingness to co-operate in power sharing agreements with US global interest. However, Iran is a regional power, which will not submit to becoming a vassal state of the US. The sanctions policy has not provoked an uprising among the Iranian masses nor has it led to regime change. Sanctions have not weakened Iran to the extent of making it an easy military target. While sanctions have weakened Iran’s economy, they has also worked against any kind of long-range empire building strategy, because Iran has strengthened its economic and diplomatic ties with the US’ rivals, Russia and China.

Conclusion

As this brief survey indicates, US-EU wars have not been instruments of empire-building in the conventional or historical sense. At most they have destroyed some adversaries of empire. But these have been pyrrhic victories. Along with the overthrow of a target regime, the systematic break-up of the state has unleashed powerful chaotic forces, which have doomed any possibility of creating stable neo-colonial regimes capable of controlling their societies and securing opportunities for imperialist enrichment via economic exploitation.
At most the US overseas wars have secured military outposts, foreign islands in seas of desperate and hostile populations. Imperial wars have provoked continuous underground resistance movements, ethnic civil wars and violent terrorist organizations which threaten ‘blowback’ on the imperial center.

The US and EU’s easy annexations of the ex-communist countries, usually via the stage-managed ballot-box or ‘color revolutions’, led to the take-over of great national wealth and skilled labor. However, Euro-American empires bloody campaigns to invade and conquer the Middle East, South Asia, North Africa and the Caucuses have created nightmarish ‘failed states’ – continuously draining imperial coffers and leading to a state of permanent occupation and warfare.

The bloodless takeover of the Eastern European satellites with their accommodating, corrupt elites has ended. The 21st century reliance on militarist strategies contrasts sharply with the successful multi-pronged colonial expansions of the 19th – 20th century, where economic penetration and large scale economic development accompanied military intervention and political change. Today’s imperial wars cause economic decay and misery within the domestic economy, as well as perpetual wars abroad, an unsustainable drain.
The current US/EU military expansion into Ukraine, the encirclement of Russia, NATO missiles aimed at the very heart of a major nuclear power and the economic sanctions may lead to a global nuclear war, which may indeed put an end to militarist empire-building… and the rest of humanity.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books).

- African Globe.




BLACK ACHIEVEMENTS: World Number One Serena Williams Demolishes Simona Halep To Win WTA Finals Title - Joins Martina Navratilova And Steffi Graf As The Only Players To Have Won 5 Season-Ending Championships!

Serena Williams celebrates with the trophy after defeating Simona Halep to win the Women's Tennis Association finals in
Singapore on October 26, 2014 (AFP Photo/Roslan Rahman)

October 26, 2014 - SINGAPORE - Serena Williams beat Simona Halep 6-3, 6-0 on Sunday to win her third-successive title at the WTA Finals and her fifth overall.

Halep easily beat Williams just four days earlier during the group stage of the tournament, but Williams turned that around with an aggressive game plan that unsettled the Romanian player.

Williams won 11 of the last 12 games in the match to join Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf as the only players to have won five titles in the season-ending championships.

The 33-year-old American pulled out of her previous two tournaments with illness and a knee injury, yet still claimed the $2 million first prize.

Serena Williams of the U.S. holds her trophy aloft after defeating Romania's Simona Halep in the singles final at the
WTA tennis finals in Singapore, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

''I just started training, because I had such a bad knee in Beijing I didn't know if I'd be able to play here, and now I have won the Billie-Jean King trophy - I am so excited,'' Williams said.

The match was the most one-sided championship match in the WTA Finals since Kim Clijsters beat Amelie Mauresmo 6-2, 6-0 in 2003.

''It was an amazing week so I can't be too sad that I lost,'' Halep said. ''Congratulations to Serena, you are the best.''

Halep got the first break of the match in the third game and looked capable of repeating the surprise 6-0, 6-2 victory she recorded over Williams on Wednesday, but in the next game Williams broke back at her third opportunity and the course of the match was set.

Serena Williams plays a shot against Simona Halep during the finals of the Women's Tennis Association finals in Singapore on October 26, 2014
(AFP Photo/Roslan Rahman)


Halep won only three points less than Williams in the opening set but clinched just seven points in the entire second set - including only two on return. The set was over in 25 minutes.

Halep's serve, so effective throughout the tournament, let her down on the big stage, winning less than half her first-serve points while Williams won 77 percent.

Williams changed her game plan from the group-stage contest, attacking Halep's second serve with fierce ground strokes, and regularly rushing the net to cut the points short and prevent the Romanian playing her preferred style.

Halep tried in vain to change the momentum, even trying a drop shot from well behind the baseline, but her spirit and body language quickly deteriorated in the face of Williams' relentless attack.

Williams had 25 winners against just five by her opponent.

Halep's victory in the group stage ended Williams' 16-game winning streak at the WTA Finals, but the American built her career win-loss record in the championships - for the top eight players - to 29 wins against just five losses. Williams also retained her No.1 ranking. - Yahoo Sports.





ELECTRIC BODY: Electric Food For The People Of The Sun - How Hemp Seeds Can Boost Your Lung Health; The Incredibly Nutritious Benefits Of A Miracle Plant!


October 26, 2014 - FOOD & HEALTH - When it comes to your health, I believe that every little bit helps. Amazingly, even something as simple as a seed could provide your body with many great health benefits. In fact, seeds might be the key to optimal health.

Seeds are a big part of a healthy lifestyle. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds—they all make a great addition to morning oatmeal or an afternoon snack of Greek yogurt and berries. And if you like the taste, you’ll love the amazing health benefits—especially when it comes to hemp seeds.

Hemp seeds are a controversial food. It is actually illegal to grow hemp seeds in the U.S. because they come from the same plant that produces marijuana, and they contain very small traces of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). However, washed hemp seeds are likely to be free of THC. Having said that, hemp seed products are legal in the U.S., and they are becoming increasingly popular in supplement form, primarily for their essential fatty acid, fiber, and protein content. 

There have been many studies that support the health benefits of hemp seeds, but there’s one in particular that caught my attention. I recall a groundbreaking study from Palacky University (Czechoslovakia) that took place just before World War II in the 1930s. It was later presented at a scientific conference in Olomouc, Czechoslovakia in 1955. At the time, hemp seeds were thought to be the only cure for tuberculosis, which is considered among the 15 most prominent causes of death in the U.S. The study’s authors were clearly ahead of their time. Despite the advances in chemotherapy and antibiotics at the time, they observed that the nutrition of the patients with tuberculosis had to improve to increase overall resistance to the disease; they believed in functional foods that naturally supported better health. 




The study was an accumulation of 30 years of research. One case from the study observed 16 children with tuberculosis (eight boys, eight girls) between the ages of six and 16, which began the study with “depressed nutrition.” The children were given a soup-spoon, or 50–80 grams, of ground hemp seed mixture (colloidal hemp seed extract) with lightly heated milk, three times daily, 15 minutes before a meal. They also received two tablets of vitamins B1 and C, along with a nutrient-rich diet. The treatment duration varied among the children; however, the lung or gland disease was healed in all cases.

What made the hemp seeds such an important contributor toward the treatment of tuberculosis? Its main protein, edestin. This protein contains 19% of the amino acid arginine, which helps form and grow new tissue in the body. A high protein diet overall was reported to be important in the treatment of tuberculosis. Other important sources of protein in the diet included egg yolk, cottage cheese, cereals, fruits, and nuts.

But there are other reasons to consume hemp seeds besides lung health. Hemp seeds are also known to reduce food cravings and blood pressure, prevent blood sugar spikes, improve mental function and digestion, and lower the overall risk of cardiovascular disease. According to a review published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism in 2010, dietary hemp seeds have the potential to positively affect heart disease. A survey of 13,401 participants within the review found that a diet high in arginine-rich foods might lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Future research is needed to back up these findings.

So aside from supplements, how can you add hemp seeds to your diet? Hemp protein powder is a perfect addition to smoothies or you can add whole hemp seeds to any salad, yogurt, steel cut oats, or kefir for flavor and added nutrition.

Sources for Today’s Article:

This article “How Hemp Seeds Can Boost Your Lung Health” was originally published on DoctorsHealthPress, visit their site to access their vast database of articles and the latest information in natural health.


- Natural Blaze.





AFRICAN START-UPS: Ghana Goes Green, Bamboo Bikes Make Worldwide Impact - Winifred Selby, Young Female Social Entrepreneur Vows To Bring Change To The World; Receives Numerous Awards!

One of Winifred Selby's bamboo bikes. Photo: I. Kaledzi/DW

October 26, 2014 - GHANA - A young female social entrepreneur has vowed to bring change to the world - one bamboo bike at a time. The 19-year-old employs about 30 girls to produce bikes in Ghana and has received numerous awards for her work.

Winifred Selby, 19, is a young social entrepreneur who is determined to fight for a carbon-free and greener planet.

She founded Ghana Bamboo Bikes in 2009 - and her business model took off immediately. She currently employs about 30 young women and her bikes made from bamboo are becoming more popular day by day. Selby says the company creates a turnover of about $10,000 (7,720 euros) a month by exporting some of its bikes.

She started her enterprise at the age of 15. Money was always tight in the family. She says she was motivated by the challenges she and her family were facing.

"When I was six things were so tight that we sometimes had to sell [items] during [school] vacations, because where are the school fees going to come from?" Often she would sell toffee or other small items to earn a little bit of money.

Helping the community

But Selby soon decided she wanted to found her own company that would be committed to promoting fair trade, treating people fairly and creating environmentally responsible products that help reduce change. She also wanted to provide job opportunities that would help other young Ghanaians escape poverty.

Even though the concept of bamboo bikes is nothing new, Selby decided to take the leap with co-founders Bernice Dapaah and Kwame Kyei.


One of Ghana’s Bamboo Frames For Bicycles Being Austria. Photo: Portia Crowe/IPS

Ghana Bamboo Bikes. Photo: Ghana Bamboo Bikes

 The Ghana Bamboo Bikes initiative is based in Kumasi, Ghana's second biggest city. It's where the team assembles bikes that are suitable for the country's high terrain and rough roads.

"A frame is $250, and we produce 90," Selby said. "If the cost of producing a bamboo frame is 150 and we are selling at 250, then it means we get a profit of 100."

Kafui Dey, a popular TV host in Ghana, took a test ride on one of the bamboo bikes at a recently held exhibition. He says he was impressed with the quality.

Protecting the environment

"It felt good and stable, it wasn't too heavy and I had a spin around, and I enjoyed it," Dey said. "What was more exciting to me was the initiative - being taken by Ghanaians to do something not just for themselves but for their communities."

Selby and her colleagues at Ghana Bamboo Bikes say they aim at becoming a huge company with branches across the country. With such a success story just over four years of operations, the future looks bright for this project which is contributing to reducing climate change and protecting the environment. - All Africa.




KNOW THYSELF: "I Am A Liberian, Not A Virus" - West Africans Hit Back Against Ebola Stigma, Shoana Solomon’s Social Media Campaign Aims To Counter Discrimination!


October 26, 2014 - LIBERIA - “You’re from Liberia, so you have a disease”. When Shoana Solomon’s nine-year-old daughter came home from her American school and told her mother what her classmates were saying, Solomon knew there was trouble ahead.

Solomon, a photographer and TV presenter, moved her daughter to the US from a school in Liberia’s capital Monrovia in September. Despite coming from an Ebola zone, she says she was not subjected to any particular scrutiny upon arrival on American soil.

But as fear about Ebola mounts, Liberians in the US are increasingly finding themselves in a difficult position. With stigma and paranoia on the rise, Solomon has launched a campaign aimed at encouraging others to treat Liberians normally.

“The day after that happened to my daughter, I made a Facebook post,” Solomon told the Guardian. “I said, oh my goodness, my daughter’s being stigmatised. I said: Get ready.”


The next day, Solomon received a phonecall from her sister, who lives in the US.

“Her daughter was in school and sneezed a couple of times. They took her temperature and placed her alone in a room, called my sister and said, given the situation...”

Solomon’s sister was asked to temporarily remove her daughter from school: a girl who has never been to Liberia, and has not had contact with anyone returning from Liberia for two years.

Solomon’s family are not alone. All over the US, Liberians are painfully experiencing what it means to come from a country so closely associated with the current Ebola outbreak. Late last week, a town hall meeting held in Staten Island, New York, brought together Liberians to denounce the stigmatising of their community. The Staten Island neighbourhood of Little Liberia is home to the largest population of Liberians outside Africa.

Outside the meeting, Liberian-American Charles Roberts told ABC News: “When they ask you where you come from and you say Liberia, then they turn their back on you.”
There have been reports of Liberians in Washington being instructed to temporarily leave work. “If I’m on the metro, I don’t talk,” Liberian writer Alphonso Toweh told the Washington Post. “If I’m on the bus, I don’t talk. If people hear the accent, they think you are Liberian, then you have Ebola.”

The death of Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan – the only person to die of Ebola on US soil – has fostered American suspicion of Liberians in particular. Solomon readily concedes, however, that the social stigma against Ebola exists as much within her own country as beyond its borders.

“Liberians stigmatise other Liberians,” she says. “It mostly affects those who have been cured – coming back into communities and not being accepted.”

WATCH: I am a Liberian, not a Virus.


 

Solomon says she understands the concerns of the US public.

“Don’t get me wrong: I’m afraid,” she says. “Ebola is a serious thing. I don’t want to minimise that. But there has to be some sensitivity. We have been through so much as a country: first our 14-year civil war, and now Ebola – the stigmatisation is just too much.”

As part of an awareness campaign conceived of by Solomon and three friends, a video has been released in which Solomon addresses the camera about the hurt felt by her daughter when accused of being a vector of disease.

“We didn’t bring this virus on ourselves,” she says, holding up a placard reading: “I am a Liberian, not a virus”.

Solomon describes the response to the campaign thus far as “awesome”. On Twitter, the slogan has since been adopted by other Liberians around the world, who have tweeted pictures of themselves holding up similar signs. A group of Liberian women staged a small march in Harlem, New York, on Sunday, carrying posters bearing the same slogan. - The Guardian.



INSIDE AFRICA: The Birthplace Of The "Arab Spring" - Tunisia Holds First Election Under New Constitution!


October 26, 2014 - AFRICA - Tunisia is voting to elect its first full parliament under a new constitution passed earlier this year.

The election is one of the final stages in the political transition which followed the ousting of authoritarian leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

There are no opinion polls, but the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, which won Tunisia's last national election in 2011, is expected to do well.

Its main rival is likely to be the liberal Nidaa Tounes (Tunisia's Call).

Most of the major parties have vowed to tackle Tunisia's high unemployment and to reinvigorate its economy.

Polls opened at 07:00 (06:00 GMT) and will close at 18:00 (17:00 GMT). Results are expected on Wednesday.

line
At the scene: Naveena Kottoor, Tunis

Despite a rainy and damp start to the day, there were queues outside this polling station in the Tunis 2 district, with some carrying the Tunisian flag.

In this district, voters have a choice between 45 candidates. The entire process is being tightly observed by around 800 international, as well as more than 10,000 national, election monitors across the country.
The security presence is visible at the polling stations and on the streets.

Today marks the end of the political transition period from dictatorship to democracy. It's a milestone, the expectations are high, not just in Tunisia but abroad as well.

line

Tunisia is seen as the birthplace of the "Arab Spring" - the pro-democracy movement which sought to replace autocratic governments in several Arab countries.

Tunisia is considered to have had the most successful outcome, with relatively low levels of violence.

However, radical groups within Tunisia have threatened to disrupt the elections and on Thursday militants shot a policeman on the outskirts of the capital, Tunis.

Unity deal promised
More than 50,000 security personnel and nearly 20,000 soldiers are expected to be deployed on Sunday to ensure safe voting.

Voters have more than 100 parties to choose from in the race, which uses proportional representation
 
On the eve of the polls, Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa warned that extremist groups could attempt to attack voting stations.

Dozens of people were already waiting outside polling stations when they opened early on Sunday


"We know that this [election] will be a target because it is unique in the region. It brings hope," he said, during an inspection of troops near Tunis.

Around five million Tunisians have registered to vote, with overseas residents having already cast their ballots on Friday.

Some observers fear a low turnout, arguing that voters have become disaffected with politics after a lack of economic progress in the years following Ben Ali's overthrow.

Ennahda, which currently rules in coalition with other parties, has promised to pursue a unity government even if it wins the most seats.

Tunisia is set to hold a presidential election on 23 November, which will deliver the country's first directly elected leader since the removal of Ben Ali in 2011.

Protests which began in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid in late 2010 later gathered pace and spread across much of the Arab world the following year. - BBC.



THE AGE OF OBAMA: The Symbolic Rise Of The Moors Or The Black Face Of White Supremacy Paradigm - Black Disappointent With President Obama Threatens Democrats In Upcoming Elections?!


October 26, 2014 - UNITED STATES -  Black voters’ disappointment with President Barack Obama, who they so eagerly embraced for so many years, could be costly on Election Day to Democrats, who badly need a big African-American turnout to win Senate and gubernatorial races in key states.

Instead, many African-Americans see an unemployment rate well above the national average, continuing problems with crime in many neighborhoods, and a president more interested in trying to help other voting blocs that didn’t give him such unwavering support.

He talks about same-sex marriage in a nod to the gay and lesbian community. He discusses immigration and its benefits, an issue particularly important to the Latino community. He fights for equal pay, a vital issue to the women Democrats so avidly court.

The black community, which gave Obama support like no other group, too often doesn’t see the investment paying off.

“People in this community just don’t think anything is going to change,” said Akua Scott, a Miami-based labor organizer.

Instead of obvious improvements in the economy, jobs can be tough to get and despair remains a constant.
“A lot of people don’t understand how government works. They think the president is a savior,” she said.

Obama remains hugely popular among blacks; last month’s McClatchy-Marist poll found 86 percent approved of the job he’s doing. But the disapproval number was 12 percent, double its level just after the 2012 election.

Akua Scott and Aaron McKinney (left and center), community organizers in South Florida, speak with customers at
Jackson's Soul Food restaurant, a popular gathering place for many living in District 24, about voter turnout, in
Overtown, Fla. "We had this idea once we got the first black president all our problems will be solved,"
said McKinney on Oct. 9, 2014.
PETER W. CROSS — McClatchy

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/10/23/244420_black-disappointment-with-obama.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

 In Miami’s Overtown neighborhood, a historic black community, people don’t necessarily blame the president for making it hard to get a job or stay financially afloat, but they had hoped for more.

“We had this idea that once we got the first black president, all our problems would be solved,” said Aaron McKinney, a Miami community organizer. He walked around the Jackson Soul Food restaurant in Overtown one day recently urging people to vote.

“People are happy to see a black man as president, but people in this environment see no way out,” said Dorrell Brown, a Miami longshoreman. “This is what they’ve believed for a long time, and it’s not changing.”
He and others echoed the views of some leading black scholars and commentators who have criticized Obama for not doing enough for the black community.

“He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit,” Cornel West, a professor of philosophy and Christian practice at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, told Salon.com in August.

Democrats badly need black voters to turn out in November. Its most endangered Senate incumbents last ran in 2008, the year Obama first won the presidency.

When blacks stay home, Democrats in states with large African-American constituencies often lose. In Florida, former Gov. Charlie Crist, running as a Democrat, needs those voters. Florida’s black voters gave Obama 95 percent of the 2012 presidential vote and made up 13 percent of the electorate.

Two years earlier, in the state’s 2010 gubernatorial election, their share was 11 percent. The drop in turnout hurt. Though blacks gave Democrat Alex Sink 93 percent of their vote, Republican Rick Scott, who’s now running against Crist, won by 1 percentage point.

Black turnout could matter in governors races in Arkansas, Maryland, Michigan, Georgia and South Carolina, and it also could be crucial in swinging a handful of Senate races this year.

In Louisiana, Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, has a tough road to re-election. She last won six years ago, when the black vote was 29 percent of the total and gave her a 96 percent to 2 percent majority, according to exit polls. That more than offset her 2-to-1 losing ratio among whites.

In North Carolina, another Democrat, Sen. Kay Hagan, is also battling for another term. In 2008, blacks were 19 percent of the vote and Hagan rolled up a 96-1 win while losing the white vote by 18 percentage points. She won that race with 53 percent. Strong black turnout could also be crucial to Democrats in Georgia, Kentucky and Arkansas.

Turnout historically plunges in midterm elections, which lack the glamor of the presidential race. Candidates are not as well-known, and unless there’s a compelling issue that affects a lot of people personally, such as a reeling economy, many see little personal stake in voting.

Democrats have a dilemma. Obama is increasingly unpopular in key states, and promoting him too heavily, let alone bringing him in to campaign, would be a political liability. But not sending him there means the party can’t use an important weapon to motivate its most loyal constituency.

So the Democrats are trying a variety of tactics to stir the vote. Obama’s organizational infrastructure is still regarded as strong, and the Congressional Black Caucus is active in Freedom Sunday, a campaign that began a month ago and centers on African-American church organizations.


Aaron McKinney, a community organizer in South Florida, listens to discussions about voter turnout Oct. 9, 2014, at
Jackson's Soul Food restaurant in Overtown, a popular gathering place for many living in District 24.
PETER W. CROSS — McClatchy

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/10/23/244420_black-disappointment-with-obama.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy
Black leaders are also stoking fears that a Republican Senate takeover will make life miserable. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, the Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman, warned that Obama’s impeachment would be high on the agenda if Republicans run Congress. Some conservatives have floated the idea, but it is considered highly unlikely to go anywhere.

Democrats also remind black voters that many Republicans back laws that require voters to show photo IDs at the polls. Many in the black community regard such laws as an effort to suppress their votes, because studies have shown a disproportionate number of minority voters lack government-issued photo IDs.

Republicans say they, too, are unusually active. Lingering economic problems in the black community “create a window of opportunity for us to go into these communities and share our message,” said Orlando Watson, a Republican Party spokesman. Unemployment among blacks was 11 percent last month, well above the 5.9 percent national average.

Republicans for two years have had a three-step process for luring black voters. Party workers in 13 key states first engage the voters, then try to build trust, and finally push them to vote. So far they say they’ve reached out to about 200,000 black voters.

Getting African-Americans to vote for anyone this year is clearly going to be difficult. Louisiana’s black share of the vote plunged from 29 percent in 2008 to 24 percent in 2010, and in Kentucky, it dropped from 11 percent to 6 percent.

Democrats figure they just have to break through with the kind of pointed message Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., chairman of the black caucus’ political action committee, offers.

“We have to convince people this is like voting in a presidential election,” he said. - McClatchyDC.


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