Thursday, May 28, 2015

COSATU Calls for African Industrialization on Africa Day
24 May 2015

The Congress of South African Trade Unions joins all billion of African citizenry to celebrate Africa Day on the 25th May 2015.

African working class has played a major struggles freedom and liberation from the colonial and imperialist rulers since 1963 to date.

COSATU appreciates all the forefathers of liberty of all African States such as Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela, Samora Machel and countless others.

Today, African states are politically free, however that has not translated into economic freedom.

Majority of African states still suffers from diseases such as Ebola, malaria, cholera, HIV/AIDS and other communicable and non-communicable diseases.

Africa nations still suffer from internal conflicts, civil wars, political protests against some of the rulers, repression from some states, un-ending terms of office by some leaders and lack of due respect for the rule of law.

Many workers in Africa are still suffering from exploitation by multi-national companies who extract minerals and other commodities out of Africa for their own benefit.

Many migrant workers are under-employed in many countries despite the International Labour Organization’s labour standards ratified by many countries.

Many workers are forced out of their countries by various issues such as poverty, unemployment and hunger to seek for opportunities across Africa and in Europe through nerve-wrecking means such as crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

Many migrant workers have died in pursuit for ‘greener pastures, with many eaten by lions in forests, many drowning in seas, many killed by rebels and many taken for human trafficking business.

On Africa Day, COSATU urges all African states to commit to peace in the continent and respect all the African Union statues on democratic principles, sound governance principles and respect for the rule of law.

COSATU calls for commitment to eradicate all the social ills and diseases by having sound health systems to enhance the life expectancy of the African citizenry.

COSATU urges all migrant workers across countries to be organized under the Trade Unions in all countries they are located, to curb the super-exploitative acts by bosses across the continent in pursuit for super-profits.

COSATU urges all African states to re-prioritize development in Africa in the interest of the masses and not only a chosen ‘few’. Beneficiation in all the wealth of all countries must be centred to enhance the lives of all citizenry out of poverty, under-development, mal-nutrition, exploitation, famine and lack of skills.

COSATU calls for protection of migrant workers under attack from xenophobic, afrophobic and other hate related attacks in the African continent.

COSATU calls for formalization of the informal economy as many African are pushed on the periphery of the economic activities by retrenchments, outsourcing, right-sizing, down-sizing and privatization with all companies doing business in Africa.

COSATU calls for unionization of all workers in Africa to strengthen the hegemony of workers’ formation in the continent.
Solidarity actions must be extended on worker to workers basis, and with learning of each other’s languages, to enhance working together.

COSATU on Africa Day urges all workers and their families to wear their African attire, to recite African poetry, to sing African music and appreciate the heritage of being African in Africa.

Issued by COSATU
Ntai Norman Mampane (Acting National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Street
Braamfontein
2017
P.O.Box 1019
Johannesburg
2000
South Africa
Tel: +27 11 339-4911 or Direct: +27 10 219-1348
Mobile: +27 72 416 3790
Twitter: @_cosatu / @COSATU2015_
Web: www.cosatu.org.za

‘The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles’-The Communist Manifesto


NUM Statement on Africa Day

25 May 2015

The Africa Day gives Africans the time to celebrate Africa`s successes and to reflect on its problems and challenges. One of the most dominant stories of 2015 is the recent xenophobic violence in South Africa.

During this year xenophobic attacks, the United Nations (UN) expressed its concern at the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, saying the violence had displaced 5,000 people.

At least six people were killed during the unrest spreading from the eastern port city of Durban to the country`s financial hub Johannesburg.

The NUM fully supports the implementation of ‘Operation Fiela’ which is a government initiative designed to deal with xenophobia. The NUM say NO to Xenophobia.

Some of our members came from various African countries and contributed to the South African mining economy. They contributed immensely to the industrialisation of South Africa. The NUM will participate in all programmes designed to educate communities about diversity and the importance of unity of the working class beyond the colonial borders.

"It is still totally unacceptable and inexcusable that immigrants can be attacked for being immigrants in a country which purports to support human rights," said Frans Baleni, the NUM General Secretary.

“The working class and the poor should be united against the common enemy, i.e. oppressive regimes and capitalist exploitation. We cannot wage war against each other. Workers of the world should unite, and therefore we must discourage this malady,” Baleni.

Since independence, Africans have been terribly betrayed. They have been betrayed by the superpowers, who used Africa as a battlefield in the fight for global domination, and sanctioned corruption and tyranny as long as their interests are served. Most of all, they have been betrayed by their own leaders, who have done little but bask in personality cults and fill foreign bank accounts.

"Africa needs a new generation of leaders to turn the tide. A new generation of leaders who will focus on rebuilding Africa post colonization. A new generation of leaders who will invest and build effective and efficient resources exploitation to benefit the African economy and eliminate poverty, unemployment and severe inequalities that are affecting the continent," Baleni said.

But pinning the blame on superpowers and colonialists is no longer the trump card it once was. Africans are now willing to say publicly that Africa has failed and that Africans themselves have to take a share of the blame. Africa continues to make steady economic, social and political progress.

It is time for Africa to invest in education, health and infrastructure to improve its economy.

The challenge is to educate and empower women and children who represent Africa’s future. If we empower women and children, we help build better, more equal and more prosperous societies.

African governments must break down the social, economic, environmental and cultural obstacles that women and girls face.

They must intensify efforts to provide Africa’s women with better access to education, work, and health care.

As the NUM, we believe that African governments must do more to end violence against women and children.

Despite an overall decline in the number of conflicts, too many Africans still experience violent conflict.

Women and girls bear the brunt and are frequent targets of sexual violence and abuse.

For further information contact:
Frans Baleni: NUM General Secretary: 082 375 6443
Livhuwani Mammburu: Acting NUM National Spokesperson: 083 809 3257
ADDRESS:
7 Rissik Street.
Cnr Frederick,
Johannesburg 2001
ANCWL Saddened by Loss of Mama Ruth Mompati
12 May 2015

The African National Congress Women`s League feels a deep sense of loss at the passing on of Comrade Mama Ruth Mompati earlier this morning at the age of 89 years. Mama Ruth Mompati was a distinguished member of a generation of women in South Africa and the ANC who gave selflessly, without expectation of praise or reward, of their lives to the struggle for the liberation of South Africa and her people. She made an invaluable contribution to the moulding and guiding of successive generations of women in the movement; she nurtured and mothered activists serving as a bedrock of our organisation during the dark and turbulent years of exile and banishment.

As a founder member of Umkhonto weSizwe and Secretary General of the ANC Women`s League, Mama Ruth Mompati and her comrades led from the front to emancipate the South African people from the bondages of apartheid colonialism.

Regardless of the role she was playing or the area in which she was deployed, Comrade Ruth served the organisation with unwavering commitment and absolute dedication. Her own family lent Mama Ruth to the people of South Africa so she could wage our common war often at great distress and sacrifice to their own comfort. It is these values of putting the course of the people first, fearlessness, courage and determination that the ANC Women`s League implores young women and South Africans in general would emulate as we continue with the work of building a free and united South Africa. We lower our revolutionary banners in honour of this incomparable stalwart of our movement and commit ourselves to pick up the baton that is being passed to us by the generations of Mama Ruth Mompati and her compatriots. Tirelessly, we will work to ensure that the struggle they had devoted their lives to continues and that we can never justly claim to have realised their vision until the dream of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist society is realised.

The ANC Women`s League sends its deepest condolences to the Mompati family and the countless comrades who considered Comrade Ruth Mompati a mother, a community builder and a liberator. May she rest in peace comforted by the knowledge that she played her invaluable role, driven by the love for her people, in building this South Africa which is intent on realising the ideals of our people concretised in the Freedom Charter she was, in whatever small way, part of crafting.

Issued by
Angie Motshekga
President
African National Congress Women`s League

Enquiries
Edna Molewa
Head of Communications
076 462 5529
ANC Statement on Africa Day
25 May 2015

The African National Congress joins millions of Africans in celebrating the Africa Day today, 25 May 2015. We celebrate this year's Africa Day under theme "Building a better Africa and a better World". It was on this day in 1963, when leaders of 32 African nations came together in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, and formed the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The year 2015, also marks 14 years since the formation of the African Union (AU).

The OAU was formed to confront as a collective, the challenges facing the African continent then. The Organisation's main objectives include; the promotion of unity and solidarity of the African states, co-ordinate and intensify the co-operation of African states, and to defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of African states in order to achieve a better life for all Africans. After the attainment of our liberation and the first democratic elections in 1994, South Africa joined the OAU on the 23rd of May the same year.

The ANC remains committed to working together with the people of Africa in order to achieve the AU fifty-year vision called Agenda 2063. This is the African vision of building effective institutions, enhancing accountability, strengthening solidarity and integration, promoting gender equality, and promoting peace and security. In addition, Agenda 2063 talks about the reform of institutions of global governance, which includes among others the United Nations (UN), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

As we celebrate this historic day, we reiterate the call made by President Jacob Zuma at yesterday's Africa Day celebrations in Mamelodi that "every school, church or community choir and individuals, must practice the African Union anthem so that we can sing it at all our important gatherings and celebrations".

We are Africa! We are One!

Issued by
Zizi Kodwa
National Spokesperson
African National Congress

Enquiries
Keith Khoza 082 823 9672
Khusela Sangoni 072 854 5707
Xenophobia Must Be Condemned in the Strongest Terms, Says African Union Commission Chair
May 26, 2015

Message of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Nkosazana C. Dlamini-Zuma, on the occasion of the 52nd Africa Day Addis Ababa, 25 May, 2015

Fellow Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora

Our friends and partners across the world

On this, the fifty-second occasion of us marking the birth of our beloved continental body, I have the singular honour to wish all of you a happy and fulfilling Africa Day.

This year’s celebration comes at the time when the African Union is celebrating 13 years since its transformation from the Organisation of African Unity. We have indeed transformed the organisation from one pursuing the struggle to liberate the continent and safeguard the independence of African States to one that facilitates work for a united, prosperous and peaceful Africa.

This year’s theme, which is, “Women’s Empowerment and Development Towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”, is a recognition of centuries of African women and women from the Diaspora to the struggles against slavery, racial and gender discrimination, and for the emancipation of our continent and African men and women everywhere.

Women and girls continue to play critical roles – paid and unpaid – in their families, communities, countries and regions, that directly impact on economies and societies.

Despite the constraints that they continue to face, we have made strides, as a result of different waves of struggles by the women’s movements. Since the historic Beijing conference 20 years ago, and the recognition of women’s rights as human rights, we have seen progress on women’s representation, in the advancement of reproductive rights, on equal pay for equal work, on access to education and basic services.

At the same time, it is estimated that if real change happens at the same, it will take us 80 years before reaching full gender parity. This is simply not good enough. It will mean that our efforts to reverse the curse of underdevelopment and conflicts must wait another 80 years to come to fruition. It also means that Africa will also continue to use less than half of its talents, skills and potentials.

To address these constraints, we criss-crossed the continent and solicited the inputs of all sectors, spheres and levels of society. Our only question was … What Africa do YOU want to see by 2063. Agenda 2063 is the resulting mandate from the people of Africa here and in the Diaspora. Agenda 2063 is an intergenerational mission, an inclusive African strategy to use Africa’s resources for the benefit of all Africans.

Our Africa Day celebration is therefore facilitating and celebrating African narratives of the past, present and future that will enthuse and energise the African population and use their constructive energy to accelerate a forward looking agenda of pan-Africanism and African Renaissance in the 21st century.

We mark this Africa Day with much optimism. Africa has answered the clarion call to shape its own agenda… for the people by the people.

Fellow Africans,

We also mark this Africa Day with several blemishes.

These have included the conflicts that continue to bedevil our beloved continent as is the case, at the moment, in Burundi, Central African Republic, Somalia, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as other member sates.

The recent xenophobic attacks in the coastal city of Durban and in the economic hub of Johannesburg, is also one such blemish. We take this opportunity to reiterate our condemnation of the unacceptable acts of violence that affected our brothers and sisters.

No matter what the circumstances, such actions cannot be justified.

No matter the frustrations, the loss of even a single life cannot be condoned. We also wish to applaud the swift action taken by the South African government and its citizenry in response to these acts of violence, which also resulted in the loss of life and livelihood.

It has been said that one of the major causes for such incidents as witnessed in South Africa and elsewhere are the challenges presented by poverty and inequality. These are often characterised by the poor fighting the poor over limited and sometimes scarce resources.

These incidents also underscore the urgent need for all of us to give urgent attention to issues related to migration and human trafficking. We must address the very circumstances that lead our nationals to leave our shores for better opportunities in other parts of the continent and the world.

To this effect, I take this opportunity to also extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the 800 African brothers and sisters who recently lost their lives on the North Coast of our continent. That incident is also a painful reminder that we must urgently deal with the growth and integration of our continent.

Never and never again must such acts and incidents be witnessed on our continent.

In realising Africa’s development, human development is also not negotiable. The pockets of instability and conflict, which have sometimes resulted in loss of life and livelihood, bear testament to that fact. We cannot afford to continue on a trajectory that excludes and is inequitable.

In order to facilitate for inclusive and sustainable growth we must translate Agenda 2063 into our national plans so that we can facilitate for priority areas such as integration, youth and women’s empowerment, job creation, energy, and infrastructure development.

In translating Agenda 2063 we will need accelerated action towards an equitable growth path, which prioritises the people and connectivity. We must realise key urgent projects that connect us including road, rail, aviation, marine transport, telecommunications, as well as industrialisation and manufacturing.

Our pursuit for accelerating our equitable economic growth path will also place greater pressure on our traditional and mainstream energy sectors, consequently we will begin to seriously implement key projects in the renewable energy sector, which include hydro and wind energy. In accelerating connectivity we will pay greater attention to the promotion of the Continental Free Trade Area.

It is in seeking to accelerate implementation of these (and other) priorities and programmes that we will convene the Africa Economic Platform, in the latter part of this year.

The platform will pursue continental synergy and will bring together Africa’s captains of industry, academics, governments and activists. Only through working together can we facilitate for Africa’s unity, shared prosperity and lasting peace.

Africa . . . One people. One Destiny

Long live Africa and her Diaspora!

Long live African solidarity and unity!

I thank you and happy Africa Day!!
ZANU-PF Internal Power Struggles Continue: Information Minister Points Finger at Nguni
May 28, 2015
Herald Reporter

No amount of dust-kicking will cover up Federation for Non-Governmental Organisations (FONGO) president Cde Goodson Nguni’s tracks linking him as the second source of a false NewsDay story that claimed President Mugabe owed sacked Zanu-PF Mashonaland East provincial chairman Mr Ray Kaukonde $30 million, it has been learnt.

Instead of explaining to Zimbabweans yearning to know his side of the story on his alleged involvement in the scandalous story, Cde Nguni chose to divert attention by casting aspersions on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo and Zimpapers editors.

Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, Cde Nguni said he was loyal to Zanu-PF and had never leaked information to the writer of the story, one Richard Chidza.

“I am a loyal member of the Zanu-PF party headed by Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe. I have never leaked a story to the NewsDay or to Mr Chidza. I have never had meetings with or had a teleconference with Mr Chidza over the last Politburo meeting,” Mr Nguni told journalists.

He accused Prof Moyo of pushing a Herald story yesterday linking him to the NewsDay story.

“I never had access or been advised of Politburo deliberations except what the party’s information department churns out to the public. Mr Chidza is a personal friend, but I never had discussions with him regarding some dirt involving anyone let alone the Head of State. The story that was published in The Herald was written by and on the instruction of Jonathan Moyo (Prof) who was hoping to smear another Politburo member with the story,” he said.

Cde Nguni claimed Prof Moyo was the source of the story and questioned if the Zimbabwe Mass Media Trust (read Commission)gave the Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services the mandate to run Zimpapers and also questioned the legality of Zimpapers appointments.

However, Prof Moyo yesterday said there was no way Cde Nguni would get away with such mischief.

“There’s absolutely no need for Cde Nguni to kick up some dust in a vain effort to cover up very serious allegations published by The Herald that he’s the second-hand source to the criminal falsehood carried by NewsDay that President Mugabe allegedly told last Thursday’s Politburo meeting that he owes (Mr) Kaukonde $30m.

“I did not attend that meeting as I was busy with the by-election campaign in Tsholotsho. If Cde Nguni thinks he can get away with his mischief by doing and saying anything, then he’s like a child playing with fire.

“His response betrays someone who’s very afraid. The time has come for those who leak falsehoods and nonsense about Cabinet and Politburo proceedings to be held accountable in terms of the law,” Prof Moyo said.

Cde Nguni claimed the story was written because Prof Moyo was informed he wanted to launch a petition in the courts to enjoin and oppose the application by The Herald editor Caesar Zvayi challenging criminal defamation.

He said Zvayi also told him that Prof Moyo was the author of all anti-Zanu-PF ministers and Vice President stories which were being carried in newspapers under the Zimpapers stable.

However, Zvayi said: “It is instructive to note here that rather than respond to the issue at hand, Mr Goodson Nguni chose diversion. He needs to collect his faculties and respond to the real issue at hand, his alleged role in the NewsDay story.’’
ZANU-PF Being Destroyed From Within: ‘Moyo Plotting Against Mugabe’
May 28, 2015
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Zimbabwe NewsDay

INFORMATION minister Jonathan Moyo was again yesterday thrust into the centre of worsening Zanu PF fights after a ruling party apologist accused him of using the media to destroy the party from within.

Goodson Nguni, the leader of the Zanu PF-aligned Federation of Non-governmental Organisations, made a string of allegations against Moyo including that the former Zanu PF critic had an elaborate plan to tarnish the image of President Robert Mugabe and his deputies.

Nguni was reacting to a story in The Herald yesterday claiming that he leaked issues discussed at last week’s meeting of the Zanu PF politburo to NewsDay.

This was after the paper published a story on Monday where Zanu PF insiders alleged Mugabe had disclosed that he owed fired Mashonaland East provincial chairperson Ray Kaukonde $30 million.

Nguni told journalists in Harare yesterday that he had since established that Moyo authored the Herald story as part of the alleged ploy to destroy the party from within.

He alleged Moyo was co-ordinating the onslaught against Zanu PF by both the State and private media, an accusation the political scientist vehemently denied last night.

“Zimbabweans must just do a research and see the multitudes (sic) of anti-Zanu PF attitude by Moyo,” Nguni said.

“I hope Zanu PF will understand that Moyo has previously stated that he wants to destroy Zanu PF from within and he is co-ordinating the public and private media to write negative stories about Zanu PF, the President, Vice-Presidents and all progressive Zanu PF members.”

Nguni said Moyo’s recent interview with BBC where he stated that Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa was not guaranteed to succeed Mugabe backed his claims.

“It is for [Presidential spokesperson] George Charamba and how is it that he can tell us that the President can do this or not do that? Moyo is a very dangerous mafikizolo [upstart],” he said.

“The recent BBC interview was held in Zimbabwe at Moyo’s request where he wanted to denigrate senior members of the party and talk about Zanu PF issues when he is not the party’s secretary for information.”

Mnangagwa’s allies reacted angrily to the interview claiming Moyo’s body language showed “disdain and contempt” for the VP.

Nguni urged Zanu PF to investigate Moyo’s appointment of State media editors, saying they were part of the strategy to destroy the party.

“I hope Zanu PF will look very closely at all his editorial appointments at Zimpapers,” he said.

Nguni denied being the source of NewsDay’s story about Kaukonde. He said Moyo was trying to use the story to further his own agenda against party officials.

“Moyo wanted The Herald to snare me into mentioning particular names within the politburo,” he charged.

“He was hoping that the people who I talk to in the politburo would be linked to the story, but unfortunately for him all the people in the politburo are friendly to me.

“Moyo is targeting me because I am the face of Zanu PF attack against the MDC and I regularly pop up to defend Zanu PF when he is busy conniving against the party. He was hoping to silence me.”

He said he had not spoken to Richard Chidza, the journalist The Herald alleged authored the story.

The story had no by-line to identify the writer.

“I never had a teleconference or meeting with Chidza after the last politburo meeting,” Nguni said.

“ I have never had access to politburo meetings or been advised of deliberations except what the party’s information department churns out in public.

“The story was written because Jonathan Moyo was informed that I was going to launch a petition in the Constitutional Court to enjoin and oppose the application by Herald editor Caesar Zvayi to purge our Constitution of criminal defamation.”

Moyo has spoken against efforts to retain criminal defamation in the statute books while Mnangagwa wants the law to stand.

“I had occasion to challenge Zvayi on why The Herald is taking Mnangagwa to court over criminal defamation,” Nguni said.

“Zvayi told me to my face that Moyo ordered him to sue Mnangagwa in order to remove criminal defamation.

“Zvayi also told me that Moyo was the author of all anti-Zanu PF stories carried in the Zimpapers stable.

“Zvayi also told me that Moyo wants criminal defamation removed so that journalists can write false stories and not get arrested.”

However, Zvayi said it was not true that Moyo wrote stories for The Herald, insisting that he was in charge of the paper.

“Only a fool would believe Prof Moyo is a journalist at The Herald. I am the editor of the paper, I preside over the diary. Herald reporters write all stories in The Herald,” he said.

“I don’t know what an anti-Zanu-PF story is because we write issue-based or event-based stories. If anything we are accused of being a Zanu-PF mouthpiece.”

He also denied charges that The Herald’s defamation challenge was part of the anti-Mnangagwa campaign.

“As for the claim Prof Moyo is party to our lawsuit, a simple check of the court papers or call to the lawyer can clarify that. It’s Zimpapers suing and I am representing Zimpapers as editor of the flagship title.”

Moyo poured scorn on Nguni’s claims and defended The Herald.

He said the paper had an “unparallelled and proud record in support of the party, government and country in the national interest”.

“Second, it’s quite clear that Cde Nguni has a very strange defence against very serious allegations that he is the second-hand source to the criminal falsehood that President Mugabe owes Kaukonde $30m,” Moyo said.

“I did not attend the politburo meeting last Thursday, but what has been reported in your newspaper about what allegedly took place in the meeting is totally unacceptable and those behind the misleading leaks must be held accountable without fear or favour.

“The matter is as simple as that.”

Moyo has repeatedly faced accusations that he is on a mission to destroy Zanu PF from within with critics pointing to his previous life as an acerbic critic of Mugabe.
Chicago Cop Fights Dismissal Over Photo of Him Pretending to Hunt Black Man
A former Chicago police detective is suing to overturn his firing for posing in a photograph showing him and another officer in a mock hunting scene with a black man wearing antlers.

Timothy McDermott in the lawsuit seeks to rejoin the Chicago Police Department, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The snapshot, showing the officers with rifles standing over the unidentified black man, was reportedly taken sometime between 1999 and 2003 at a Chicago police station.

The Chicago Police Board fired McDermott in October after the photo surfaced during an FBI probe into the second officer, Jerome Finnigan, now serving a 12-year prison sentence for corruption. Both McDermott and Finnigan are white.

The majority of the board wrote that "appearing to treat an African-American man not as a human being but as a hunted animal is disgraceful and shocks the conscience."

The police board found McDermott guilty of bringing discredit on the department, disrespecting or maltreating a person on- or off-duty, and unlawful or unnecessary use or display of a weapon, the Sun-Times said.

A Cook County judge unsealed the photo in March after it was filed as part of the lawsuit, the New York Daily News reported.

McDermott's lawyer, Dan Herbert, said Wednesday there's no evidence the photo was taken against the black man's will, WLS-TV reported. Police officials said they believe the man in antlers was a drug suspect.

Finnigan was convicted in 2011 of leading a group of officers who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from drug dealers, even ordering another officer killed to keep him quiet about the scheme.
Although McDermott was not found to be involved in that, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he doesn't deserve to get his job back.

"As far as I'm concerned, to that officer: Good riddance. You don't belong in the Police Department," Emanuel told reporters Wednesday. "Our whole idea of the Police Department (is that it) is there to serve and protect, and the values expressed in that photo are not the values of the people of the city of Chicago."

McDermott acknowledged to police officials two years ago that the photo was a mistake, the Sun-Times reported.

"I was asked to join the photo and I did so without exercising proper judgment," according to a transcript of his remarks. "I made a mistake as a young impressionable police officer who was trying to fit in."

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Evidence of 430,000-year-old Human Violence Found
By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News
From the section Science & Environment

Frontal view of Cranium 17 showing the position of the two traumatic events

Human remains from a cave in northern Spain show evidence of a lethal attack 430,000 years ago, a study has shown.

Researchers examined one skull from a site called the Pit of Bones, which contains the remains of at least 28 people.

They concluded that two fractures on that skull were likely to have been caused by "multiple blows" and imply "an intention to kill".

The findings are published in the journal PLOS One.

As well as providing a clue as to why the bodies were in the cave, scientists say the study provides grisly evidence that violence is an intrinsic part of the earliest human culture.

A detailed CT scan of the skull showed that the two fractures were almost indistinguishable
The international research team studied the skull - cranium 17 - using modern medical imaging techniques.

Their virtual reconstruction showed that two clearly visible fractures on its front were almost identical, strongly suggesting, "that both were caused by the same object".

This forensic investigation provides a piece in the puzzle of how these people came to be in the cave, which is known in Spanish as Sima de los Huesos.

The site has been studied by scientists for more than three decades. In 2013, researchers were able to extract ancient DNA from one of its preserved bones, leading some experts to suggest that the bodies inside were early representatives of the Neanderthal lineage.

The site continues to be a hot topic for researchers trying to unravel the increasingly complicated story of human origins.

And while this study does not tackle that scientific debate, it suggests that the long vertical shaft of this cave was a place where these ancient people deliberately "deposited deceased members of their social groups".

The researchers conclude in their paper that this may have been "a social practice among this group", and may even be "the earliest funerary behaviour in the human fossil record".

Professor Debra Martin is an anthropologist from the University of Nevada, who studies ancient human cultures, including evidence of violence.

She told BBC News that she found the researchers' conclusions "completely compelling".

Prof Martin added: "I suspect the farther we push back and find straight up forensic evidence such as these authors have, we will find that violence is culturally mediated and has been with us as long as culture itself has been with us."
'New Species' of Ancient Human Found In Ethiopia
By Rebecca Morelle
Science Correspondent, BBC News
From the section Science & Environment

Researchers say the jaw bones and teeth are unlike any they have seen before

A new species of ancient human has been unearthed in the Afar region of Ethiopia, scientists report.

Researchers discovered jaw bones and teeth, which date to between 3.3m and 3.5m years old.

It means this new hominin was alive at the same time as several other early human species, suggesting our family tree is more complicated than was thought.

The study is published in the journal Nature.

The new species has been called Australopithecus deyiremeda, which means "close relative" in the language spoken by the Afar people.

The ancient remains are thought to belong to four individuals, who would have had both ape and human-like features..

Living with Lucy

Lead researcher Dr Yohannes Haile-Selassie, curator of physical anthropology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in the US, told BBC News: "We had to look at the detailed anatomy and morphology of the teeth and the upper and lower jaws, and we found major differences.

"This new species has very robust jaws. In addition, we see this new species had smaller teeth. The canine is really small - smaller than all known hominins we have documented in the past."

The age of the remains means that this was potentially one of four different species of early humans that were all alive at the same time.

The most famous of these is Australopithecus afarensis - known as Lucy - who lived between 2.9-3.8m years ago, and was initially thought to be our direct ancestor.

However the discovery of another species called Kenyanthropus platyops in Kenya in 2001, and of Australopithecus bahrelghazali in Chad, and now Australopithecus deyiremedaI, suggests that there were several species co-existing.

Some researchers dispute whether the various partial remains really constitute different species, particularly for A. bahrelghazali. But Dr Haile-Selassie said the early stage of human evolution was probably surprisingly complex.

"Historically, because we didn't have the fossil evidence to show there was hominin diversity during the middle Pliocene, we thought there was only one lineage, one primitive ancestor - in this case Australopithecus afarensis, Lucy - giving rise to the next.

"That hypothesis of linear evolution has to be revisited. And now with the discovery of more species, like this new one... you have another species roaming around.

"What this means is we have many species that could give rise to later hominins, including our own genus Homo."

Dr Haile-Selassie said that even more fossils need to be unearthed, to better understand the path that human evolution took.

He added that finding additional ancient remains could also help researchers examine how the different species lived side-by-side - whether they mixed or avoided each other, and how they shared food and other resources in their landscape.
Nebraska Bans Death Penalty, Defying a Veto
By JULIE BOSMAN
New York Times
MAY 27, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska on Wednesday became the first conservative state in more than 40 years to abolish the death penalty, with lawmakers defying their Republican governor, Pete Ricketts, a staunch supporter of capital punishment who had lobbied vigorously against banning it.

After more than two hours of emotional speeches at the Capitol here, the Legislature, by a 30-to-19 vote that cut across party lines, overrode the governor’s veto of a bill repealing the state’s death penalty law. After the repeal measure passed, by just enough votes to overcome the veto, dozens of spectators in the balcony burst into celebration.

The vote capped a monthslong battle that pitted most lawmakers in the unicameral Legislature against the governor, many law enforcement officials and some family members of murder victims whose killers are on death row. The Legislature approved the repeal bill three times this year, each time by a veto-proof majority, before sending it to Mr. Ricketts’s desk. Adding to the drama, two senators who had previously voted for repeal switched to support the governor at the last minute.

Opponents of the death penalty here were able to build a coalition that spanned the ideological spectrum by winning the support of Republican legislators who said they believed capital punishment was inefficient, expensive and out of place with their party’s values, as well as that of lawmakers who cited religious or moral reasons for supporting the repeal. Nebraska joins 18 other states and Washington, D.C., in banning the death penalty.

Though it is not clear that other Republican-dominated states will follow Nebraska’s example, Wednesday’s vote came at a time when liberals and conservatives have been finding common ground on a range of criminal justice issues in Washington and around the country.

In other states, Democrats and Republicans driven by different motivations have formed alliances to limit the revenue that towns can collect from traffic fines; to crack down on civil asset forfeiture, a practice that disproportionately affects the poor; and to ease mandatory prison sentences.

On the presidential trail, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have all called for easing mandatory minimum sentences, while other Republican candidates have embraced proposals to revamp bail and expand drug treatment that have also been championed by Democrats. Though it formally considers itself nonpartisan, the Nebraska Legislature is dominated by Republicans.

Mr. Ricketts, who fought against the repeal bill by appearing repeatedly in television interviews and urging Nebraskans to pressure their senators to oppose it, immediately denounced the vote.

“My words cannot express how appalled I am that we have lost a critical tool to protect law enforcement and Nebraska families,” he said in a statement. “While the Legislature has lost touch with the citizens of Nebraska, I will continue to stand with Nebraskans and law enforcement on this important issue.”

In a debate that was by turns somber, fiery and soul-searching, with sprinklings of quotes from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens and the Book of Genesis, senators stood to make last-minute pitches to try to persuade the undecided. Some said that capital punishment should be retained as a tool to punish the most heinous crimes. Others said that the death penalty, which has not been used in Nebraska since 1997, was irretrievably broken.

“Today we are doing something that transcends me, that transcends this Legislature, that transcends this state,” said Senator Ernie Chambers, an independent from Omaha who sponsored the bill and has fought against the death penalty for decades. “We are talking about human dignity.”

A few senators argued that Nebraskans were still broadly in favor of capital punishment, even if many Republicans in the Legislature had turned away from it. Others said that they were deeply conflicted about their vote to retain the death penalty. “Today I will sustain the governor’s veto because I campaigned on it,” said Senator Tyson Larson, two hours into the debate. “This might be the last time I give the state the right to take a life, because I don’t think that they necessarily should.”

The bill replaces capital punishment with life imprisonment.

The vote on Wednesday came just a day after Mr. Ricketts signed a veto of the death penalty repeal bill in front of reporters assembled at the Capitol and talked about a gruesome bank robbery in the city of Norfolk in 2002 in which five people were shot to death as a compelling reason that Nebraska should hold on to capital punishment. Two family members of a woman who was shot during the robbery stood at the governor’s side.

Some Nebraskans said in interviews this week that they agreed with the governor.

“I’m sure small-town, rural Nebraska communities are furious about the repeal,” said Chris Spargen, a project specialist in his mid-20s, as he rode his bike down a main thoroughfare in Ashland, 30 miles outside Omaha. “I guess I’m technically falling under that as well.”

In downtown Ceresco, Neb., about 18 miles north of Lincoln, Wayne Ambrosias, owner of the Sweet Pea Market, said he did not want his tax dollars used to pay for murderers to stay in prison for their entire lives. And he echoed the governor’s statement that the lawmakers who supported the death penalty repeal bill were out of touch with a widely conservative public.

“I don’t think the politicians are in line with the everyday people,” Mr. Ambrosias said on Wednesday, just before the vote. “I think it’s more of a political move. I don’t think the people are telling them that’s what they want.”

But others said they saw the issue differently, rejecting the argument that the death penalty was necessary to deter crime.

“A lot of times, murder is a crime of passion,” said Don Johnson, a retired commercial fisherman from Alaska now living in Ceresco. “I don’t think they think about the death penalty when they kill somebody or somebody gets killed. I don’t think it’s a preventative measure at all.”

Mr. Johnson, who considers himself an evangelical Protestant, said he saw the issue less as a religious belief than a strictly personal one. Other members of his church are in favor of the death penalty, he said, though he admitted he could not quite reconcile the punishment with Christianity.

“If you really follow Jesus’s teachings,” he said, “thou shall not kill, you know.”

Catholic bishops in Nebraska issued a statement on Tuesday criticizing Mr. Ricketts’s veto. “We remain convinced that the death penalty does not deter crime, nor does it make Nebraska safer or promote the common good in our state,” they said.

Since 2007, six states have abolished the death penalty: Maryland, Connecticut, Illinois, New Mexico and New Jersey. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, a research group opposed to the death penalty, no conservative state has banned capital punishment since North Dakota in 1973. The center defines a conservative state as having voted Republican in the two most recent presidential elections.

Across the country, efforts to execute criminals on death row have stalled in the face of growing backlash against the death penalty and logistical difficulties with lethal injections. Many states have had difficulty obtaining lethal injection drugs, as European manufacturers, citing moral and ethical objections, have refused to sell them to prisons in the United States. Texas, which executes more inmates than any other state, has only enough drugs to carry out one more lethal injection.

Searching for alternatives in the face of drug shortages, some states have taken other measures. In March, the Utah governor signed a law allowing firing squads to be used for executions, and Arkansas, Wyoming and Idaho have considered replacing lethal injections with firing squads.

Mr. Ricketts tried to ward off concerns about the availability of drugs by announcing this month that he had made arrangements with a pharmaceutical company to obtain the necessary drugs for lethal injections. Some lawmakers said that the governor had not actually obtained the drugs, asserting that he was trying to sway legislators to uphold his veto. Those lawmakers have also raised questions about whether those drugs would be legal to use if the governor had obtained them.

Carson Vaughan contributed reporting from Omaha.
Live Anthrax Samples Mistakenly Shipped From Pentagon to Nine States, South Korea
By JULIAN E. BARNES
May 27, 2015 9:55 p.m. ET

Live samples of the anthrax virus were inadvertently sent from a Defense Department research facility to labs in nine states as well as a military base in South Korea, but there were no known incidents of exposure to the virus, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

Col. Steve Warren, the chief Pentagon spokesman, said there was “no known risk to the general public” or any confirmed cases of anthrax infection in workers who potentially were exposed to the samples.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating the inadvertent transfer of samples with live Bacillus anthracis, or anthrax, from a defense lab in Dugway, Utah. Col. Warren said the Pentagon would assist with that investigation.

The sample sent to Osan Air Base in South Korea was destroyed. In a statement, the U.S. military in South Korea said twenty-two personnel may have been exposed. All were given medical treatment, including antibiotics and vaccinations. None has shown any symptoms of exposure, the military said.

The samples, from a batch of anthrax labeled AG-1, were sent by commercial overnight shipping companies from March 2014 through March 30 of this year. That batch was supposed to have been exposed to gamma radiation to render it inert, officials said. Half of the batch remained at Dugway, and half was divided and sent to various labs.

A civilian, commercial lab in Maryland, which first received a sample in March 2014, realized a year later that the sample contained live spores. The lab then contacted the CDC.

The military tested the remaining AG-1 sample at Dugway and confirmed that the Anthrax was still live.

The military and CDC are investigating whether the full batch was irradiated improperly or if some other error occurred, allowing live samples to be sent. A military official said it is simply not known what went wrong with the sample.

The CDC is gathering the samples that were sent out and bringing them back for further testing, defense officials said.

The anthrax was sent out from the Dugway Proving Ground during regular Pentagon tests on how to identify biological threats in the environment, Col. Warren said. The Pentagon uses commercial shippers to send both live and inactive anthrax spores, which are packaged to avoid any inadvertent exposure, a defense official said.

Inactive spores are more commonly shipped, officials said.

Labs receiving the live anthrax samples were in Texas, Maryland, Wisconsin, Delaware, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York, California and Virginia, officials said. Those labs were using the anthrax for various research projects.

The sample sent to South Korea was shipped to the Integrated Threat Recognition Program at Osan Air Base, Col. Warren said.

Because of the unintended shipments, the Pentagon has ordered a halt to any shipments of anthrax—live or inactive—from its labs.

The CDC didn’t respond to questions about the investigation.

—Alastair Gale contributed to this article.

Write to Julian E. Barnes at julian.barnes@wsj.com
Burkinabe Sankarist Parties Form United Front in Preparation for Elections
Exhumation of slain leader takes place amid greater attention paid to new political biography

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Ten political parties claiming to uphold the political legacy of martyred Burkina Faso Marxist and Pan-Africanist revolutionary Thomas Sankara formed an alliance last week.

The unity agreement came several months after a national uprising which ousted former coup leader turned president, Blaise Compaore, who is now living in exile in neighboring Ivory Coast.

Compaore was forced to flee after a people’s rebellion in late Oct. and early Nov. when hundreds of thousands of youth and workers took to the streets demanding that he not stand for another term. When it appeared that the parliament would allow Compaore to run again, the building was attacked, occupied and set on fire.

Continuing unrest prompted two military coups over the following days with many protesters demanding the immediate return to civilian rule. A coalition of military and political leaders established an interim government mandated to hold elections on Oct. 11, 2015.

Between the years of 1983-1987, Sankara led a revolutionary movement which took power and sought to transform the post-colonial agricultural state into a source for the improvement of the living conditions of the people and as a model for other nations in Africa. Sankara, known as the “Che Guevara of Africa” was assassinated along with twelve other military and political officials in a counter-revolutionary coup led by Compaore, who remained in power for over 27 years.

Even the Associated Press noted in a report that “Sankara was a Marxist, anti-imperialist revolutionary who in four short years in power doubled the number of children in schools, reduced infant mortality, redistributed land from feudal landlords to peasants and planted 10 million trees that still help shade Ouagadougou, the capital.” (May 25)

His policies drew the ire of neighboring Ivory Coast, a close ally of France, which has always been suspected of playing a role in the coup that removed Sankara from power.

After the removal of Sankara in Oct. 1987, the country reverted back to being an outpost of French and United States imperialist intrigue. During the tenure of Compaore, Burkina Faso became leading producer of gold on the African continent.

Under Compaore, the neo-colonial state served as a base for French military intervention in neighboring Mali. Paris is a close ally of Washington’s so-called “war on terrorism” carried out on the continent by the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

The widow of Capt. Sankara, Mariam, who often speaks out on various aspects of Burnikabe politics, urged the parties to come together in order to challenge the neo-colonial backed forces in the upcoming elections. A candidate, Me Benewende Stanislas Sankara was recently endorsed by the ten political parties claiming to be heirs of the ideology of Burkina Faso's martyred leader. Me Sankara, an attorney, is involved in demanding that an inquiry be conducted into the Oct. 1987 coup and assassinations.

Me Sankara, who is of no family relations to the former revolutionary leader, was one of the lawyers representing the family of Thomas Sankara who was assassinated in a coup in 1987.

Exhumation of Alleged Grave Site

After a judicial order in March by the Burkinabe courts, a grave said to contain the remains Thomas Sankara and other leaders killed on that fateful day in 1987, was exhumed on May 25.

This is the first phase in the efforts to determine if in fact Sankara was buried at this location and what were the real causes of his and the others’ deaths.

According to a report published by Reuters press agency, “Authorities in Burkina Faso began exhuming the remains of former president Thomas Sankara on Monday in a bid to establish responsibility for a murder that has dogged the West African nation since 1987.” (May 25)

This same article goes on to say “Sankara's relatives have for years pressed for his body to be tested, saying they suspect it may not be that of the former president, who died in a coup that brought his former ally Blaise Compaore to power. Witnesses at the Daghnoen cemetery on the outskirts of the capital Ouagadougou said the exhumation of Sankara's body and those of 12 colleagues had begun with the families of the victims and lawyers present.”

Sankara's sons Philippe and Auguste are providing DNA samples which experts can utilize to confirm if the remains in the tomb are those of the martyred leader. The process of providing positive identification could take several weeks.

Recent Biography Published on Sankara

Meanwhile, a political biography of Sankara was released late last year chronicling his development, rise to power and subsequent assassination. The book entitled, “Thomas Sankara, An African Revolutionary”, was written by Ernest Harsch, a long time researcher and analyst on African affairs.

This book comes at a time when there is mass discontent emanating from youth and workers throughout various regions of Africa. The uprising in Burkina Faso was not an isolated incident but was reflective of the failure of the neo-colonial African nation-states to address the fundamental needs and aspirations of the majority of people within society.

Sankara sought to rapidly advance the development of Africa by breaking ties with imperialism which continue to hamper the forward progress of the continent. Over the last seven years since the formal founding of AFRICOM, the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has escalated its interventions in Africa. As a result of this deeper military and intelligence penetration of the continent, the capacity of African states to resolve their own national security imperatives have been severely weakened.

Events in Mali, Burundi, the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of South Sudan, Somalia and other states demonstrate that absent of unity and self-determination there can be no genuine sovereignty for the formerly colonized nations. To organize the people of Africa on an anti-imperialist basis there has to be an ideological reorientation towards socialism to restructure society in the interests of the workers, farmers and youth.

 Harsch’s book chronicles Sankara’s journey from his youth extending to his recruitment into the military, rising political consciousness, and burgeoning anger with the-then Upper Volta’s poverty, underdevelopment and economic corruption. During the course of his rise within various leadership circles, Sankara utilized these opportunities to organize the people for revolutionary change in order to defeat the dominance of the antiquated and outmoded system of neo-colonial governance.

Sankara and his comrades instituted economic and social ideas which steered away from western dependency on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, relying on enhanced use of Burkina Faso’s resources to construct educational institutions, hospitals, and state-directed projects aimed at improving the quality of life and the liberation of women.

Not surprisingly, Sankara’s revolutionary ideology and practical programs gained tremendous support from both inside Burkina Faso and throughout Africa. Unfortunately, a myriad of opponents including dissident factions within his own political camp, as well as the military, finally moved to overthrow the national democratic revolution. Nonetheless, during the uprising of Oct. and Nov. 2014, thousands of youth and workers held banners and wore shirts with the image of Sankara.

In the present social context of the upcoming elections, it is essential that a political program is developed which can win over the majority of working people, farmers and youth inside the country. A breakthrough in Burkina Faso towards a revolutionary vision of the future would have a profound impact on Africa and the international scene.
Shiite Mosques Bombed in Saudi Arabia and Yemen While Ground and Air War Escalates
United Nations sponsored peace talks cancelled amid intensification of fighting

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Bomb attacks were carried out against a Shiite mosque in oil-rich eastern Saudi Arabia on May 22, killing at least 21 people. Another Shiite mosque was also bombed inside the capital of Yemen, Sanaa, representing an escalation of the war over control of the underdeveloped Middle Eastern state.

The attacks, which came on a Shiite holy day, were claimed by the Islamic State group. The attack at the Imam Ali mosque in Saudi Arabia’s Shiite-dominated Eastern Province occurred during the Friday prayers.

These attacks are taking place within the context of heightening tensions within Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Since March 26, Riyadh and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have led a coalition of other regional states in a massive campaign of aerial strikes targeting civilian and infrastructural targets within Yemen.

The Ansurrallah movement, better known as the Houthis, has been fighting the Saudi-GCC sponsored former President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi who has taken refuge in the Riyadh. Reports indicate that thousands of people have been killed, wounded and displaced in the fighting.

Pentagon air force units have been providing intelligence and refueling resources to the Saudi-GCC war planes. Despite the call for a truce and humanitarian relief, the Saudi-GCC command structure and its allies have attacked airports, internally displaced-persons camps, residential districts and shipping ports with the intent to block aid from getting to the Yemeni people.

Fighting Escalates Through Aerial Attacks and Ground Assaults

Meanwhile, 14 people were reportedly killed in ongoing airstrikes carried out by Saudi Arabia in two provinces of Yemen on May 23. The Saudi warplanes' bombed the Hamoud al-Fatimi district in the southeastern Yemeni province of Dhamar on May 21 claiming the lives of eight members of a family, including five women, two children and a man, according to reports released by Yemeni media.

Ansurallah positions in the capital of Sanaa and in the southern port city of Aden as well as Marib province in the east were all targeted in sustained airstrikes on May 22. In the northern districts of Sanaa, Saudi-GCC coalition warplanes struck a stadium and a base of the Republican Guards loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is in alliance with the Houthis.

Overall on May 22, eight Saudi-GCC identified Ansurallah and allied bases were hit in and around Sanaa, including the Dalaimi air base located close to the international airport.

On May 25 there were fierce clashes reported in southern Yemen, where dozens have been killed. Fighting in Dhalea, pitted militias supported by the exiled government of ousted President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who said they had retaken positions occupied by the Ansurallah.

Nonetheless, in Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city, the Ansurallah fighters have regained areas occupied by the Saudi-GCC allied forces. Yemeni officials told the international media that at least 30 members of Ansurallah, their allies and five fighters from the pro-Hadi fighters, were killed over the weekend.

Medical personnel and local residents told media outlets that at least 10 non-combatants were also killed in the fighting.

In a fierce continuation of the air war, areas held by the Ansurallah were bombarded during the evening of May 24-25.

According to the BCC World Service, “Later, heavy fighting was reported at the rebel-held base of the 33rd Armored Brigade, the AFP news agency said. Reuters reported that 10 soldiers from army units allied to the (Houthis) had been killed in the fighting, along with three militiamen, while Al-Jazeera TV cited unnamed sources as saying that dozens of people had been killed and wounded.” (May 25)

On May 24, it was reported that the national air defense forces dropped a Saudi warplane in Saada province in northern Yemen. (TV Al-Massira)

An Al-Manar TV correspondent reported that the fighter jet has been shot down in the area of Malil in Kattaf district. (May 24)

In taking the war across the Saudi border, Yemeni armed forces and volunteers of the Popular Committees overran a strategic military base in Saudi Arabia in response to its continued U.S.-backed military aggression against Yemen.  On May 22, Yemeni soldiers and Popular Committees fighters seized the al-Me’zab base in southwestern Saudi Arabia near the border with Yemen, the Arabic-language al-Masirah satellite television network announced.

The Saudi forces in the base fled the site. Additional reports on May 25 claimed that the “Yemeni army, backed by popular committee forces, had destroyed four Saudi tanks after storming a base in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern city of Jizan.” (Press TV)

Earlier, Yemeni officials said UN-sponsored peace talks that were due to start in Geneva later this week had been postponed indefinitely.

United Nations officials are attempting to mediate what they describe as an "inclusive, negotiated political settlement" to the war in Yemen, which has resulted in reports claiming anywhere between 2,000-4,000 deaths and the wounding of 7,000 others since March 26.

Nonetheless, these efforts experienced yet another failed attempt when Yemeni politicians indicated they had been notified by the parties involved in the war that the Geneva peace talks would not begin on May 28 as planned.

"The Geneva meeting has been indefinitely postponed because the Houthis did not indicate their commitment to implement the UN Security Council resolution [passed on April 14]," Sultan al-Atwani, an assistant to Saudi –allied President Hadi, told the press. "Also, what is happening on the ground... makes it difficult to go to Geneva," he added.

The resolution passed by the Security Council called upon the Ansurallah to lay down their arms and to relinquish all areas they have seized in the months of fighting. The resolution also demanded that they start up talks on the failed political agreement negotiated by the U.S. beginning in  2011 when the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was forced to hand over power following mass demonstrations and rebellions. The Ansurallah movement is not opposed to participating in talks but will not abide by the UN Security Council resolution which they feel would only benefit the Saudis and their allies inside Yemen.

Deputy Foreign Minister for African and Middle Eastern Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian of the Islamic Republic of Iran joined by his Russian counterpart held discussions on a number of issues, specifically related to ending the Saudi-GCC war on Yemen. The talks held in the Russian capital of Moscow on May 25, between Amir Abdollahian and Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, probed possible ways to halt the current fighting in Yemen. (Tasnimnews.com, May 25)

In a statement to news outlets prior to the meeting, the Iranian envoy criticized the United Nations for its ineffective action on the Yemeni situation and stressed that the world body must embark upon a more rigorous stance on ending the Saudi aggression. Abdollahian continued by warning that an accelerated level of tensions in Yemen cannot bring about a political settlement.

Aid Shipments Politicized by Saudi-GCC Coalition

The Agence France Press (AFP) reported on May 24 that “A boat carrying 460 tons of Emirati relief aid docked Sunday in Yemen's restive port city of Aden, as Saudi-led air raids against Shiite rebels continued across the country. The shipment, including medical and food supplies, is the second from the United Arab Emirates, which delivered last week 1,200 tons of relief aid, said local aid coordinator Ali al-Bikri. Another ship carrying 400 tons of diesel also arrived Friday, said Bikri, who was appointed by Yemen's government-in-exile.”

Nonetheless, an aid shipment from the Iranian Red Crescent Society known as the Nejat (Rescue) is reportedly not being allowed to proceed to Yemen to deliver the assistance including food, blankets and medical supplies. The Iranian vessel which has western-based peace activists and journalists on deck is being required to leave the aid at the Horn of Africa port of Djibouti.

Another report from the Iranian Revolutionary News Agency (IRNA) noted that an aircraft filled with assistance for the Yemeni people was not even allowed to land at Djibouti “despite coordination with the United Nations and the World Food Program, the plane was not granted permission to land in Djibouti." (May 25)

The article continues saying “the plane is now in south-eastern Iran awaiting authorization of the foreign affairs ministry of Djibouti to land. Djibouti is the site of a key U.S. military base, the only permanent U.S. base in Africa. Drone missions are launched from the base as well as other flights.”
Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Delivers Statement to Press TV: There is ‘Intense Police Violence’ Against African Americans: Journalist
Fri May 22, 2015 6:31PM

To listen to this statement just click on the website below:
http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/05/22/412365/US-police-brutality-Intense-police-violence-Obama

“African Americans cannot get justice from law enforcement authorities,” said Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

The recent shooting of two unarmed black men by a white police officer in the US state of Washington illustrates a pattern of “intense police violence” against African Americans in the United States, a journalist in Detroit says.

This shooting “is clearly another example of how African Americans cannot get justice from law enforcement authorities,” said Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

“The Obama administration repeatedly has played down or totally ignored these police killings, which have been on the rise over the last several years,” Azikiwe told Press TV on Friday.

A white police officer shot stepbrothers Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin on Thursday in Olympia, Washington, prompting protests in the city.

Police officers were called to a supermarket around 1 am following a report that Thompson, 24, and Chaplin, 21, were trying to shoplift beer.

Employees said the two suspects threw the beer back and fled when confronted by workers. Following a search, officer Ryan Donald came upon the stepbrothers who matched the descriptions of the suspects.

Shots were fired, authorities said, after the officer was assaulted with a skateboard. The shooting left Thompson in stable condition, while Chaplin was critically injured.

Both men, who live in Olympia, were expected to survive, police said. The officer was not injured.

After reports of the shooting, several protests took place in Olympia, a city of about 48,000 people where only 2 percent of the population is black, according to US Census data.

Around 400 protesters took to the streets on Thursday evening, marching to Olympia City Hall. Photos of the demonstration published by local media showed a racially mixed group, with many whites participating.

Large-scale protests have been held across the US after a series of high-profile deaths of unarmed African-American men by white police officers.

The recent unrest in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray was the most violent in the United States since the protests in Ferguson following the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer.
Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Featured in RT Satellite Television Interview: 'US Supports Saudi-GCC War Against Yemen'
Watch this interview over RT worldwide satellite television news network featuring Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, discussing the current political and security situation in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, by just clicking on the website below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLHmjioEiDs

Bomb attacks were carried out against a Shiite mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia yesterday, killing around 20 people, and another in Yemen at a Houthi mosque in Sanaa. The attacks, which came on a Shiite holy day, were claimed by the Islamic State group.

The attack at the Imam Ali mosque in Saudi Arabia’s Shiite-dominated Eastern Province occurred during the Friday prayers.

Meanwhile, 14 people were reportedly killed in ongoing airstrikes carried out by Saudi Arabia in two provinces of Yemen. The Saudi warplanes' bombed the Hamoud al-Fatimi district in the southeastern Yemeni province of Dhamar on May 21 claiming the lives of eight members of a family, including five women, two children and a man, according to reports released by Yemeni media.

Also Yemeni armed forces and volunteers of Popular Committees overran a strategic military base in Saudi Arabia in response to its continued US-backed military aggression against Yemen. On Friday, Yemeni soldiers and Popular Committees fighters seized the al-Me’zab base in southwestern Saudi Arabia near the border with Yemen, the Arabic-language al-Masirah satellite television network announced.

The Saudi forces in the base fled the site. Finally an Iranian Red Crescent relief vessel, the Nejat, docked at the Horn of Africa port at Djibouti. The ship was slated to undergo an United Nations inspection before attempting to land at Hudaydah port in Yemen.
Pan-African Journal: Special Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Mon. May 25, 2015--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
To listen to this special broadcast of the program just click on the website below:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/panafricanjournal/2015/05/25/pan-african-journal-special-worldwide-radio-broadcast

Listen to this special edition of the Pan-African Journal hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

This broadcast today is dedicated to the 52th anniversary of Africa Day (Africa Liberation Day), commemorating the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on May 25, 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the predecessor to the African Union formed in 2002.

The program will feature our regular PANW reports with dispatches on the commemoration of Africa Day; the recent developments surrounding political events in Burkina Faso; the ongoing war in the North African state of Libya; and the burgeoning oil crisis in the West African state of Nigeria.

The second hour presents a rebroadcast of the Pan-African Journal New York City version originally aired on May 18 over Community Progressive Radio (CPRMetro.org) and produced by Bernard White.

In the final hour we rebroadcast the UWACO 2014 interview with Abayomi Azikiwe on the pitfalls of foreign direct investment in Africa as well as an interview with Azikiwe over Emanations from April 23 examining what is behind the African migration crisis in the Mediterranean. 
Pan-African Journal: Special Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Sun. Sept. 24, 2015--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
To listen to this special edition of this program just click on the website below:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/panafricanjournal/2015/05/24/pan-african-journal-special-worldwide-radio-broadcast

Listen to this special edition of the Pan-African Journal hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

This program will present our regular PANW reports with dispatches on events surrounding the commission report investigating the massacre of platinum miners in Marikana, South Africa during 2012; the ongoing United States backed war against the people of Yemen; Senate actions related to the NSA spying program in the U.S.; as well as the mass response to the acquittal of a Cleveland police officer in the deaths of two African Americans.

Our second hour focuses on the 90th birthday of Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik el-Shabazz) with a rare audio interview with the Pan-Africanist leader conducted in New York City during 1964.

The final segment examines the contributions of Dr. W.E.B. DuBois in the struggle for Pan-Africanism on the eve of Africa Day 2015.
Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Sat. Sept. 23, 2015--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
To listen to this broadcast just click on the website below:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/panafricanjournal/2015/05/23/pan-african-journal-worldwide-radio-broadcast

Listen to this edition of the Pan-African Journal hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

The program features our regular PANW reports with dispatches on Yemen, Baltimore, Burundi and the South China Seas.

The second hour presents excerpts from an interview delivered by host Abayomi Azikiwe over RT worldwide satellite television news network on the current situation in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Also an update on the medical condition of Mumia Abu-Jamal will be presented as well.

The final segment rebroadcast the editor's roundtable program from May 18 over Radio 786 in Cape Town, South Africa where Abayomi Azikiwe was a participant. 
Israeli Air Force Launches Multiple Attacks on Gaza Strip
Wed May 27, 2015 12:47AM
presstv.ir

The Israeli air force has started carrying out attacks on the Gaza Strip, as the Palestinian resistance movements of Hamas and Islamic Jihad deny launching projectiles into Israel.

Israeli warplanes carried out raids on the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza Strip, on Rafah in the south, and on Khan Younis early on Wednesday.

At least three raids were also carried out on the Palestinian city of Beit Lahia.

On Tuesday, Hamas and Islamic Jihad denied launching rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, following reports in Israeli media claiming that five rockets had landed in southern Israel hours earlier.

According to the Israeli army, at least one of the rockets hit the town of Gan Yavne with no reports of damages or casualties.


IDF strikes Gaza targets after firing of rocket toward Israel

Israel Air Force strikes four targets in southern Gaza Strip in pre-dawn attack.

By Haaretz
May 27, 2015 | 4:27 AM

IDF aircraft struck four targets in the southern Gaza Strip before dawn on Wednesday, after a rocket was fired from the Strip on southern Israel on Tuesday evening.

The Israel Defense Forces issued a short statement stating it had targeted and hit militant infrastructure targets in the southern Gaza Strip, in response to the rocket fire.

The statement concluded by placing responsibility for the firing of the rocket on Hamas.

Sirens sounded

At least one projectile was fired from Gaza and exploded in an open area near the port city of Ashdod, some 20 kilometers north of the Gaza Strip.

No damage was reported, but medical services said a 15-year-old girl from Ashdod arrived at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon suffering from shock.

The Home Front Command reissued instructions to the public following the rocket fire, highlighting the importance of finding a protected area and remaining there for ten minutes after the alarm sounds.

In Ashdod, schools were set to operate as normal on Wednesday, aside from institutions that don't have safe rooms.


Israel Launches Airstrike on Gaza After Rocket Attack

Israeli aircraft struck a handful of targets in Gaza early Wednesday morning (local time) in retaliation for a rocket attack Tuesday.

"Following yesterday's rocket attack against #Israel, #IDF aircraft attacked 4 terrorist locations in southern #Gaza." Israeli Defense Force Spokesman Peter Lerner said on Twitter at about 9:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday.

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed near the Israeli port city of Ashdod earlier on Tuesday, but no casualties or damage were reported, police and the military said.

Israeli officials said they held Hamas responsible for the attack, which was the longest-range militant rocket strike since a truce that ended a 50-day war last year.

It was unclear if there were any casualties from the Israeli airstrike.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International said in a report on Tuesday that Hamas committed war crimes against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip during last year's war with Israel.

A ceasefire last August ended 50 days of fighting between Gaza militants and Israel in which health officials said more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed. Israel put the number of its dead at 67 soldiers and six civilians.

"Hamas forces carried out a brutal campaign of abductions, torture and unlawful killings against Palestinians accused of 'collaborating' with Israel and others during Israel's military offensive against Gaza," the human rights group's report said.

In a previous report in March, Amnesty also criticized Israel and accused it of war crimes during the conflict. Apart from the many deaths, at least 16,245 homes were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable. Gaza militants fired thousands of rockets and mortars at Israel.

— Hasani Gittens and Paul Goldman, with Reuters


Israel attacks Gaza strip again

May 27, 2015 8:30 am

GAZA – Israeli aircraft struck a number of sites in the Gaza Strip from the air early on Wednesday, residents and the Israeli military said, after Israel alleged that a ‘rocket’ landed near the port city of Ashdod.

The Israeli military said it struck four ‘terror infrastructures’ in the southern Gaza Strip and that hits were confirmed. There were no reports of any casualties or damage.

Gaza residents said missiles struck several locations throughout the Gaza Strip, including places used as training camps by Islamic Jihad militants on sites that had been Israeli settlements before Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility in Gaza for the rocket launching.

“These strikes are a direct response to Hamas and the aggression against Israeli civilians originating from the Gaza Strip,” military spokesman Lieutenant-Coloner Peter Lerner said in a statement. “The reality that Hamas’ territory is used as a staging ground to attack Israel is unacceptable and intolerable and will bear consequences.”

Last year, Israeli shelling and air strikes in Gaza killed more than a hundred children and battered the small, coastal Palestinian enclave.

The region has been largely quiet since the August ceasefire.

Reconciliation efforts between Hamas and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas have faltered, adding to hardships and hampering foreign aid donations and the import of building materials.
Iraq Offensive Underway to Take Back Ramadi From Islamic State
By PATRICK J. MCDONNELL AND W.J. HENNIGAN
Los Angeles Times

Iraqi military and other pro-government forces on Tuesday launched an offensive, spearheaded by Shiite Muslim militias, to take back Ramadi from Islamic State fighters who seized the city last week.

The state-run media quoted the military command as saying “wide-ranging” operations commenced to “liberate” Ramadi, about 60 miles west of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.

There were no immediate reports of major battles along an extensive front line that has been experiencing periodic skirmishes since the Al Qaeda breakaway faction overran Ramadi, sending pro-government forces scattering.

The loss of Ramadi was a major setback for the U.S.-backed government of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi. Although pro-government forces outnumbered the attackers, Iraqi soldiers abandoned their fighting positions in Ramadi, leaving behind heavy weapons and ammunition for the extremists.

But Abadi denied U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s comments to CNN that Iraqi defenders had “lost the will to fight.” Carter’s remarks outraged many in Iraq, where thousands of pro-government fighters have lost their lives in the almost yearlong struggle against Islamic State.

In a BBC interview this week, Abadi vowed to take back Ramadi within days.

On Tuesday, the White House lauded Baghdad’s plans to regain Ramadi, seeking to mollify some of the anger in Iraq that followed the Pentagon chief’s scathing assessment.

“I think that is a clear indication of the will of the Iraqi security forces to fight,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said of the plan to recapture Ramadi. “And the United States and our coalition partners will stand with them as they do so.”

The White House said none of the Iraqi forces who fled from Ramadi had been recently trained by U.S. or coalition forces assisting the Iraqi military.

A key role in the battle for Ramadi will fall to the so-called Popular Mobilization Units, composed largely of Shiite militiamen widely regarded as among Iraq’s most effective fighting forces. They are highly motivated to confront Islamic State, an ultra-fundamentalist Sunni Muslim group that regards Shiites as heretics and regularly executes Shiite captives.

Baghdad concluded that the participation of the enthusiastic Shiite irregulars was essential to take back Ramadi. The need overrode fear that their presence could inflame sectarian tension in Ramadi, capital of Anbar province, regarded as Iraq’s Sunni heartland.

“Our victories will be quick because our preparations are strong,” Ahmed Assadi, a spokesman for the Popular Mobilization Units, said at a news briefing in Baghdad.

Highlighting the presence of the largely Shiite force, the spokesman said the operation to take Ramadi is being named after Hussein, a revered figure in Shiite Islam.

In Washington, Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, called the title “unhelpful.”

As Iraqi forces announced their planned offensive, warplanes of the U.S.-led coalition began carrying out airstrikes in Ramadi’s vicinity. The Pentagon described the undertaking as “shaping operations” before the expected government onslaught.

The White House has begun expediting delivery to Iraqi forces of high-powered weaponry, such as antitank missiles that can destroy armored vehicles, which Islamic State often employs as car bombs.

Iraqi forces’ hasty withdrawal from Ramadi mirrored their much larger collapse in June as Islamic State forces seized the northern city of Mosul and other parts of Iraq. The setbacks highlight how the Iraqi military continues to underperform even though Washington spent $25 billion to train, arm and equip the country’s security forces from 2003 to 2011.

The Pentagon determined last year that 26 of the Iraqi army's 50 brigades were able to fight Islamic State. The rest were deemed to have collapsed in combat with the militants or been tainted by sectarianism and corruption.

In the last year, Washington has deployed 3,100 military personnel to try to rebuild the shattered Iraqi military into a force that can repel Islamic State.

“It’s been a tough week for us — the loss of Ramadi was particularly difficult,” said a coalition trainer in Iraq, who was not authorized to speak on the record. “The battle here is as psychological as it is anything else.”

Although Iraqi forces have predicted a quick victory in Ramadi, many analysts have cautioned that the operation could take weeks or months. Urban warfare can be a challenging struggle fought street by street, and Islamic State has proved adept at slowing down attackers with strategically placed snipers and booby traps.

Ramadi once had a population of almost 500,000, though years of conflict have led many residents to flee. Tens of thousands of civilians have left since Islamic State militants overran the city last week.

Anbar province was a hotbed of Sunni insurgents fighting American forces after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 that overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein, a Sunni. Hundreds of American troops were killed or injured in the area before U.S. forces pulled out of Iraq in 2011.

McDonnell reported from Beirut and Hennigan from Washington. Special correspondent Nabih Bulos in Beirut contributed to this report.

Follow @mcdneville on Twitter for news out of the Middle East