Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dr. King and the 1967 Interventions: Opposing the Vietnam War Amid Urban Rebellions and the Capitalist Economic Crisis
From April to December the Civil Rights leader sought to expand the mass struggle of the African American people

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

After the famous Riverside Church address by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1967 in New York City where a position against the Vietnam War was spelled out, he visited Stanford University ten days later to make another profound statement indicating clearly his direction in the emerging phase of the African American political movement.

Just in the previous summer of 1966, Dr. King had joined the Chicago Freedom Movement in an effort to bring the mass Civil Rights campaigns of the South to the northern industrial and commercial centers. In the midst of putting forth demands related to quality housing, full employment and the indifference of the city government led by Mayor Richard Daley, a rebellion erupted for four straight days on the west side.

Two people died in the unrest and millions in property damage was done by outraged African Americans reflecting the growing militancy and impatience towards the white ruling class in the metropolitan areas and the federal government in Washington, D.C. Thousands of National Guard troops were deployed to the streets of Chicago while the Daley administration blamed Dr. King and the Freedom Movement for the unrest.

It was during the Chicago Freedom Movement actions in 1966 that the term “white backlash” came to the fore. Whites violently opposed marches for open housing through several Chicago neighborhoods occupied by European-Americans. On several occasions whites came out of their homes carrying swastikas and hurling stones at the multi-racial demonstrators.

The events of 1966 in Chicago illustrated clearly that racism and national oppression was just as intransigent in the North as in the South, if not more so due to the de facto segregationist character of the urban areas. The SCLC leader emphasized that unless a peaceful revolution was possible in the United States, a violent revolution was inevitable.

Beginning in 1967, Dr. King explained methodically how the character of the movement for emancipation had to shift to eradicating the underlying social and economic character of the American political system. It was not enough to take down the legal barriers to full participation in society if there is not a radical economic redistribution of concentrated wealth among the exclusively white ruling class.

At Stanford on April 14, 1967, he noted: “Many things were gained as a result of these years of struggle. In 1964 the Civil Rights Bill came into being after the Birmingham movement which did a great deal to subpoena the conscience of a large segment of the nation to appear before the judgment seat of morality on the whole question of Civil Rights. After the Selma movement in 1965 we were able to get a Voting Rights Bill. And all of these things represented strides.” (

He later continued emphasizing: “[W]e must see that the struggle today is much more difficult. It's more difficult today because we are struggling now for genuine equality. It's much easier to integrate a lunch counter than it is to guarantee a livable income and a good solid job. It's much easier to guarantee the right to vote than it is to guarantee the right to live in sanitary, decent housing conditions. It is much easier to integrate a public park than it is to make genuine, quality, integrated education a reality. And so today we are struggling for something which says we demand genuine equality.”

Vietnam Opposition Taken to the United Nations and Beyond

The day following his Stanford speech, Dr. King traveled to New York City to lead a demonstration from Central Park to the UN demanding an end to the U.S. imperialist war in Vietnam.   A feeder march began in Harlem which later merged with the broader manifestation.

As early as January 1966, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) had taken a clear line in opposition to the Vietnam War and the draft. Dr. King had been under pressure from a younger generation of activists to throw his weight behind the antiwar movement.

The UN demonstration was called for in November 1966 by the Spring Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam where estimates say that 125,000 people were in attendance.  A similar march was held in San Francisco attracting 60,000 people.

At the UN, Dr. King, Stokely Carmichael, James Bevel and Floyd McKissick all spoke alongside Dr. Benjamin Spock and other peace advocates indicating the convergence of forces from the Civil Rights Movement and the antiwar struggle. In San Francisco, African Americans played an important role in the demonstration. The April 15 mobilizations came after a full week of antiwar activities on campuses across the U.S.

Later a “Vietnam Summer” was organized which gained the endorsements of Drs. King and Spock. The idea was credited to Gar Alperovitz, a fellow at the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics. Volunteer youth were recruited to go throughout neighborhoods to build political consensus against the War. Another demonstration was called on the Pentagon right outside Washington D.C. on October 21. Tens of thousands rallied and marched as well as several hundred who burned draft cards making a direct challenge to the selective service system.

Moreover, SNCC had embarked upon efforts to organize the African American community into a viable force in opposition to the War. Gwen Patton of SNCC would cofound the National Black Antiwar and Anti-Draft Union (NBAWADU) in 1968. Her efforts would later include leadership of the National Association of Black Students (NABS) in 1969, which was influenced by former SNCC official James Forman, who at the time was in Detroit working with the newly-formed League of Revolutionary Black Workers (LRBW) and the Black Manifesto of the National Black Economic Development Conference (NBEDC), a document drafted by Forman demanding $500 million in reparations for African people from the white religious community.

A broad antiwar sentiment was reflective of the resistance to the draft by heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, a member of the Nation of Islam (NOI). Dr. King supported Ali in his fight to gain recognition for his religious objection to the war in Vietnam.

Urban Rebellions: The High Tide of Black Resistance

1967 was the apex of urban rebellions which had struck cities at an increasing rate for the past four springs and summers. Over 160 outbreaks occurred between January and September from Atlanta, Tampa, Cincinnati and Newark to Detroit and Milwaukee. The rebellions were intensifying in their political character with attacks on private property, police and fireman.

The-then President Lyndon B. Johnson addressed the country over nationwide television on July 24 in response to the appeal by Mayor Jerome Cavanaugh of Detroit and Governor George Romney in Lansing to send federal troops into the city since the situation was beyond their capacity to contain and control. Johnson announced the landing of 5,000 troops in the city from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. They were dispatched to augment the already existing 8,000 National Guard and thousands more local and state police officers.

Three days later Johnson announced the empaneling of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorder, popularly named after its chair, Illinois Governor Otto Kerner. He had denounced the rebellions as lawlessness which must be halted immediately.

The Kerner Commission issued a report on March 1, 1968 documenting in part the developments in Detroit and other cities saying: “The ‘typical’ riot did not take place. The disorders of 1967 were unusual, irregular, complex and unpredictable social processes. Like most human events, they did not unfold in an orderly sequence. However, an analysis of our survey information leads to some conclusions about the riot process. In general the civil disorders of 1967 involved Negroes (African Americans) acting against local symbols of white American society, authority and property in Negro neighborhoods--rather than against white persons. Of 164 disorders reported during the first nine months of 1967, eight (5 percent) were major in terms of violence and damage; 33 (20 percent) were serious but not major; 123 (75 percent) were minor and undoubtedly would not have received national attention as "riots" had the nation not been sensitized by the more serious outbreaks.” (Taken from Chapter 2 on the Patterns of Disorder)

This section goes on stressing that: “In the 75 disorders studied by a Senate subcommittee, 83 deaths were reported. Eighty-two percent of the deaths and more than half the injuries occurred in Newark and Detroit. About 10 per­cent of the dead and 38 percent of the injured were public employees, primarily law officers and firemen. The overwhelming majority of the persons killed or injured in all the disorders were Negro civilians. Initial damage estimates were greatly exaggerated. In Detroit, newspaper damage estimates at first ranged from $200 million to $500 million; the highest recent estimate is $45 million. In Newark, early estimates ranged from $15 to $25 million. A month later damage was estimated at $10.2 million, over 80 percent in inventory losses.”

Events from 1965 to 1967 had placed the SCLC’s commitment to nonviolent struggle on the defensive. Although Dr. King maintained his commitment to this form of protest, he did not condemn those engaged in the rebellions saying that “riots were the voice of the unheard.”

By the conclusion of the summer Dr. King would deepen his analysis of the present situation in light of the burgeoning unrest. James Forman, who at the time (1967) served as International Affairs Director for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which had taken a position against the War in Vietnam an entire year prior to Dr. King, analyzed the situation in an essay entitled “High Tide of Black Resistance.”

Forman wrote of the period illustrating: “The year 1967 marked a historic milestone in the struggle for the liberation of black people in the United States and the year that revolutionaries throughout the world began to understand more fully the impact of the black movement. Our liberation will only come when there is final destruction of this mad octopus-the capitalistic system of the United States with all its life-sucking tentacles of exploitation and racism that choke the people of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. To work, to fight, and to die for the liberation of our people in the United States means, therefore, to work for the liberation of all oppressed people around the world. Liberation movements in many parts of the world are now aware that, when they begin to fight colonialism, it becomes imperative that we in this country try to neutralize the possibilities of full-scale United States intervention as occurred in Santa Domingo, as is occurring in Vietnam, and as may occur in Haiti, Venezuela, South Africa or wherever. While such a task may well be beyond our capacity, an aroused, motivated, and rebelling black American population nevertheless helps in our indivisible struggles against racism, colonialism, and apartheid.”

Dr. King would take these sentiments into consideration as he articulated his new vision at the National Conference for a New Politics in Chicago during Labor Day weekend in 1967 along with a series of talks delivered over the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the Massey Lectures of November and December. These ideas will be examined in a later report and their implications for the interventions into Memphis sanitation workers strike and the Poor People’s Campaign of early 1968.
Detroit MLK Day Draws Link in the Struggles to Defeat Racism, War and Poverty
14th Annual event commemorates Martin Luther King, Jr.’s stanch against the Vietnam War and the Detroit urban rebellion of 1967

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
January 17, 2017

This year’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Rally & March was organized under the demands for “Jobs, Peace and Justice” commemorating the 50th anniversary of the intersection between the Civil Rights, Black Power and Antiwar Movements in the United States.

Dr. King during the early months of 1967 rapidly developed his theoretical views in opposition to the U.S. imperialist war against the people of Vietnam and Southeast Asia and its interconnectedness to the unfulfilled quest for full equality and economic justice.

The event was held again at the Central United Methodist Church (CUMC) on Woodward Avenue and East Adams downtown where Dr. King delivered several sermons during the Lent season from the 1950s right through 1968. The leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) spoke at Central on March 14 just three weeks prior to his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968.

Contributions from Broad Array of Activist Leaders

A host of speakers representing the foremost struggles involving water services, housing rights, election integrity, youth organizing, indigenous solidarity surrounding the Standing Rock resistance, educational democracy, among other issues spoke during the rally held in the sanctuary of CUMC. Music was provided by the Deep River Choir directed by Bobbi Thompson.

These speakers included: Sylvia Morgan and Malcolm Jones, participants in the 2016 Freedom Tour sponsored by the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR), where students are taken on a journey through the southern U.S. to study the historical legacy of the Civil Rights Movement; Jennine Spencer of the Charlevoix Village Association discussed the campaign to end property tax foreclosures in Detroit and Wayne County where every year tens of thousands face eviction from their homes; the question of the integrity of electoral politics was examined by Anita Belle who is the President of the Reparations Labor Union and a Green Party organizer; Cynthia Thornton, Chief Steward for UAW Local 6000 representing state employees and Pride at Work as well, talked about the need for a united movement against discrimination on the job; speaking for Water You Fighting For, Melissa Mays of Flint, emphasized that the water crisis in the city is by no means resolved; and Joan and Joe Jacobs of the American Indian Movement (AIM) stressed the importance of the resistance at Standing Rock where the campaigns for water rights among the Indigenous people along with Detroit and Flint merge.

Other speakers addressing the rally were Rev. Sandra Simmons of Hush House whose topic was “Building Community in the Age of Trumpism.” Simmons described the ascendancy of President-elect Donald Trump as a “coup.” She called for people fighting in the movements in Detroit to unify through their community efforts.

Elena Herrada of the Detroit Board of Education in-exile continued to illustrate the apartheid conditions under which students are subjected to in the city. The Detroit public school system has been restructured once again by the state government which has controlled the district for most of the last eighteen years to its detriment. Hundreds of schools have been closed and thousands of educational employees laid-off by the emergency managers and their functionaries working on behalf of successive administrations.

The question of war in the Middle East was taken up by Workers World Party youth organizer Joe Mshahwar of Detroit who expressed solidarity with the people of Syria. He noted that the people in the U.S. should not be manipulated into a war with Russia or China over imperialist ambitions emanating from Washington and Wall Street.

Evoking Dr. King’s Antiwar Legacy and the Lessons of the Detroit Rebellion

In 2004, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) founded the Annual MLK March in Detroit. This decision occurred less than a year after the Pentagon-led bombing, invasion and occupation of Iraq. The principal slogan of the event was “Money for Our Cities, Not for War.” Since 2004, the event has been expanded to encompass other organizations and coalitions under the banner of the Detroit MLK Committee.

Corporate media narratives surrounding the legacy of Dr. King often deliberately disregard his intervention into the antiwar movement which coincided with the escalating militancy among the African American people. In 1967, rebellions erupted across the U.S. in over 160 cities. James Forman, the-then International Affairs Director for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) described the period in an essay as the “High Tide of Black Resistance.”

The city of Detroit experienced the largest of these rebellions which had been assessed at the time as the most widespread civil disorder in the history of the U.S. Battles raged in the streets for five days leaving 43 dead, hundreds injured and 7,200 arrested. Property damage estimates ranged into the hundreds of millions of dollars. President Lyndon Johnson, who was bogued down in the Vietnam War deployed thousands of federal troops into Detroit after Governor George Romney requested assistance saying the situation was beyond the capacity of the local police and National Guard to contain.

On July 25, 1967 at the height of the Detroit Rebellion, three African American youth, Aubrey Pollard (19), Carl Cooper (17) and Fred Temple (19), were executed by police officers in the annex to the Algiers Motel which was located on Woodward Avenue and Virginia Park. The massacre prompted outrage throughout the African American community. Three white police officers indicted in the case were all acquitted of their crimes in several legal proceedings that were held both inside and outside the city of Detroit.

One month after the massacre of the youth, leading activists organized a People’s Tribunal to investigate the massacre and level charges against the police involved. Thousands attended the Tribunal held at Central United Church of Christ (later renamed The Shrine of the Black Madonna and the Pan-African Orthodox Christian Church) on Linwood and Hogarth on the west side, several blocks away from where the Rebellion erupted.

Rev. Dan Aldridge was a key convener of the People’s Tribunal. He wrote an insertion for the Detroit MLK program brochure explaining the significance of the event held on August 30, 1967.

Aldridge said that: “Among the twelve members of the jury were national icon Rosa Parks, novelist John O. Killens, book store proprietor Ed Vaugh, Michigan State Senator Jackie Vaughn, and two members of People Against Racism (PAR) Frank Joyce and Valerie Shook. Following standard legal procedure, the judge of the People’s Tribunal was Justin Ravitz and prosecuting and defense attorney roles were performed by attorneys Milton Henry, Kenneth V. Cockerel, Sr., Andrew Perdue, and Sol Plofkin. The stenographer was later Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick.”

A leading activist in the city at the time, Aldridge continued by noting: “While total access to the People’s Tribunal was given to the Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, and The Michigan Chronicle, only the Chronicle’s Aretha Watkins covered the story in full. The Detroit News did not report the event and Detroit Free Press reporter, and later Editor William Serrin, told the organizing committee that editors directed him to publish no photographs and only a very small story without interviews. The three officers were convicted by the People’s Tribunal for murder.”

A Coalition Effort

This event is a broad coalition effort. Over forty organizations and individuals sponsored and endorsed the 14th Annual MLK Day Rally and March for 2017.

These groups included in part: Moratorium NOW! Coalition, MECAWI, People’s Water Board, Linda Szysko, UAW Local 140 Civil and Human Rights Committee, UAW Local 160, We the People of Detroit, the League of Revolutionaries for a New America, Detroit People’s Platform, Avalon Bakery, ACLU of Michigan, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Detroit Coalition Against Tar Sands, IWW Detroit GMB, Pan-African News Wire, Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice, Veterans for Peace Chapter 74, Workers World Party, Pride at Work Michigan, Retirees for Single Payer Health Care, Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, Pointes for Peace, among many others.

Note: The author of this report Abayomi Azikiwe chaired the rally held at CUMC.
Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Sun. Jan. 15, 2017--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
To hear the podcast of this episode just click on the following URL:

Listen to the Sun. Jan. 15, 2017 special edition of the Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

The program will feature our regular PANW report with dispatches on a campaign for the release of a South African photojournalist who has been kidnapped while working in northern Syria; on the eve of the inauguration of United States President-elect Donald Trump, the former chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Cong. John Lewis of Georgia, has announced that the incoming head-of-state is not legitimate; in Philadelphia educators have said they will develop modules to teach about the struggle against racism; and in Chicago an immigrant rights rally was held to proclaim that this constituency will not be removed from the U.S.

In the second and third hours we continue our commemoration of the 88th birthday of the Civil Rights and antiwar martyr Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The focus will be on the burgeoning mass struggles in the urban areas of Chicago and Detroit during 1966-67.
Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Sat. Jan. 14, 2017--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
To hear the podcast of this program just click on the website below:

Listen to the Sat. Jan. 14, 2017 edition of the Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

The program features our regular PANW report with dispatches on the visit of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to the Franco-Africa Summit in Mali; demonstrations have erupted in the North African state of Tunisia on the sixth anniversary of the overthrow of former leader Ben Ali; the dreaded Zika virus has been cited in the Southern African state of Angola; and finally right-wing opposition leader in the Republic of South Africa from the so-called Democratic Alliance has been condemned for his visit to the State of Israel.

In the second and third hours we continue our focus on the life, times and contributions of the Civil Rights and Antiwar martyr Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Chicago Freedom Movement of 1966 and King's position on the Vietnam War in 1967 will be examined.
Abayomi Azikiwe Quoted in Press TV Report: 'US Ending Sanctions on Sudan as Reward for Shifting to West: Journalist'
Sat Jan 14, 2017 11:29AM

The American government is ending some economic sanctions against Sudan as a reward for Khartoum’s closer ties with the West and Saudi Arabia, an African American journalist in Detroit says.

“The Sudanese government has shifted its foreign policy more towards Saudi Arabia,” said Abayomi Azikiwe, editor at the Pan-African News Wire.

“This is reflected in their participation in the war against Yemen…also they’ve broken diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Azikiwe said in a phone interview with Press TV on Friday.

“So I think this a reward for Sudan in regard to moving closer to the West,” he added.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Friday to ease but not eliminate some trade and investment sanctions against Khartoum, arguing that the East African country has shown "a marked reduction in offensive military activity, culminating in a pledge to maintain a cessation of hostilities in conflict areas.”

The outgoing president expressed determination that the situation which led the US to impose and continue the 20-year-old sanctions had changed in light of Sudan's "positive actions" over the last six months.

Sudan has been under US sanctions since 1997. Washington accuses Khartoum of supporting terrorist groups, and it has blacklisted the country as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993.

The US has accused Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir of war crimes related to the conflict-torn Darfur region.

Violence broke out in Darfur in 2003 when ethnic minority rebels rose against the long-time ruler, accusing Bashir’s Arab-dominated government of marginalizing the region.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

United States Backed Senegal Army Ready to Invade Gambia if President Refuses to Resign
Gambians and tourists flee country as president remains

By Tim Cocks | BANJUL

Senegal's army spokesman said on Wednesday that its forces are at the Gambian border and will enter at midnight if the veteran president, Yahya Jammeh, refuses to relinquish power.

Jammeh, who lost a Dec. 1 election to opposition leader Adama Barrow, said he would not step down, citing irregularities in the vote. His mandate ends at midnight (midnight GMT).

"We are ready and are awaiting the deadline at midnight. If no political solution is found, we will step in," said Colonel Abdou Ndiaye, speaking for the Senegalese army.

The Nigerian Air Force said it had deployed to Senegal in case it was needed. Nigeria is part of the West African bloc ECOWAS, which has threatened Jammeh with sanctions or military intervention if he does not step down.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a statement Ghana would send 205 combat troops to Gambia as part of a regional mission to enable President-elect Barrow to be sworn in.

Senegal's statement raised the prospect of armed confrontation between forces loyal to the president, who has ruled Gambia for 22 years, and Senegal, which surrounds the tiny riverside country on three sides.

Senegal circulated a draft resolution to the 15-member U.N. Security Council that would give "full support to the ECOWAS in its commitment to take all necessary measures to ensure the respect of the will of the people of The Gambia".

Halifa Sallah, spokesman for Barrow, told a news conference at a Banjul beachside hotel surrounded by palm trees that the coalition "did not want to go to power stepping over dead bodies."

Addressing Jammeh, he said: "The end has come. Accept it."

Sallah said Barrow, who is in Senegal, could not be sworn in at the national stadium, as originally planned, but that he would take the oath of office at an undisclosed place.

Diplomats said Barrow could be sworn in at the Gambian embassy in Senegal.

Jammeh declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, while on Wednesday the National Assembly passed a resolution to enable him to remain in office for three months.

Gambia has had only two rulers since independence in 1965. Jammeh seized power in a coup and his government has gained a reputation among ordinary Gambians and human rights activists for torturing and killing opponents.

The draft, seen by Reuters, would endorse the decision of ECOWAS and the African Union to recognize Barrow. It also called on Gambia's security forces to protect lives and property and serve the elected authorities.

It was not immediately clear when Senegal planned to put the draft resolution to a vote. Some diplomats said U.N. Security Council approval was not needed for an ECOWAS military intervention if Barrow requested help.

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz arrived in Gambia late on Wednesday for last-minute talks ahead of the deadline, Gambian state television said.

Few people expected Jammeh to lose the election, and the result was greeted with joy by many in his country, and by democracy advocates across the continent, particularly when Jammeh initially said he would accept the result and step down.

Barrow was examining the implications of the assembly's resolution and the state of emergency, given the constitutional requirement for a handover and the need to maintain peace, Sallah told Reuters.

At least 26,000 people have fled from Gambia to Senegal fearing unrest, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Wednesday, citing Senegalese government figures. The UNHCR said up to 80 percent were children accompanied by women.

Tour operator Thomas Cook started flying nearly 1,000 holidaymakers home on Wednesday. It said on its website it was laying on extra flights in the next 48 hours to remove 985 package tour customers.

It was also trying to contact a further 2,500 "flight only" tourists in Gambia to arrange for their departure on the earliest available flight, it said in a statement.

Gambia's economy relies on one main crop, peanuts, and tourism. Its beaches are popular with European holidaymakers seeking a winter break.

(Additional reporting by Emma Farge in Ziguinchor, Senegal, Diadie Ba in Dakar, Kissima Diagana in Nouakchott, Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Grant McCool)
Gunfire Erupts in Ivory Coast Second Port city of San Pedro
Soldiers of the Ivory Coast presidential guard patrol as they arrive at the port of Abidjan, Ivory Coast January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

By Ange Aboa | ABIDJAN

Heavy gunfire erupted after dark on Wednesday in Ivory Coast's second port city, San Pedro, residents said, as two weeks of military uprisings that have tarnished the West African nation's image as a post-war success story showed no sign of letting up.

The shooting came just hours after the other main port in the commercial capital, Abidjan, reopened after paramilitary gendarmes firing in the air temporarily sealed off access forcing companies, including cocoa exporters, to close down.

President Alassane Ouattara, who is also facing a wave of public sector strikes, ordered his defence minister and military chiefs to hold urgent talks with members of the security forces about their grievances in a bid to quell the instability.

Ivory Coast has emerged from a 2002-2011 political crisis and civil war as one of the world's fastest-growing economies. But the violence, which began with an army mutiny nearly two weeks ago, has exposed festering divisions within the military.

Ivory Coast's army was cobbled together after the civil war from rebel and loyalist factions. It was not immediately clear who was shooting in San Pedro, which is an export point for cocoa grown in the fertile west and had until Wednesday remained untouched by the waves of revolts that have swept through much of the rest of the country.

"Shooting started at the (bus) station where I am now," said taxi driver Hugues Kape, who said he had heard gunfire in two other neighborhoods as well. "There's heavy shooting and we are trying to get home now."

A second resident confirmed the gunfire.


Earlier in the day in Abidjan, gendarmes - a police force under the authority of the defence ministry - poured out of their base, sealing of entrances to the port and bringing activity there to a standstill.

The port reopened later in the day, the port authority said.

Separately, guards in Bouake, the second largest city, also fired their weapons in front of the main prison to try to pressure the government into paying them more money, a local member of parliament said.

After a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, government spokesman Bruno Kone said: "The President of the Republic ... asks all soldiers, gendarmes, police, customs officers, forestry service agents and prison guards to facilitate the return of calm."

Defence Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi said the government was already in contact with those involved.

"We are going to regain control of this army so it will truly be at the service of the nation," he told reporters.

Soldiers - mainly ex-rebels - stormed out of their barracks and seized Bouake on Jan. 6, and the mutiny quickly spread, forcing the government to capitulate to the mutineers' demands.

The government started making promised bonus payments to disgruntled soldiers this week in line with an agreement to end the mutiny, although the payments have angered rival factions and triggered copycat demands.

Soldiers in other segments of the military revolted in the capital, Yamoussoukro, on Tuesday, leading to clashes in which at least two soldiers were killed.

(Additional reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Additional reporting and writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Ed Cropley, Gareth Jones, Grant McCool)
How Wall Street Controls Trump: Goldman Sachs Thriving as Era Set to Begin
by Paul R. La Monica @lamonicabuzz
CNN Money
January 18, 2017: 10:10 AM ET

Trump fills top spots with Goldman Sachs employees

Things may be changing in the nation's capital, but it's still business as usual for Goldman Sachs, the so-called Vampire Squid of Wall Street. Goldman reported earnings and revenues for the fourth quarter that easily topped Wall Street's forecasts.

Goldman Sachs (GS), like many other big banks, enjoyed a pop in bond trading following the election of Donald Trump. Investors have bet that interest rates will rise thanks to Trump's plans to potentially spend $1 trillion on infrastructure to boost the economy.

Trading revenue for bonds, currencies and commodities soared nearly 80% from a year ago, helping Goldman Sachs to post overall revenue of $8.2 billion and a profit of nearly $2.4 billion.

But investors will be interested to see whether Goldman continues to thrive under Trump. The President-elect claimed during the campaign that Goldman had "total control" over his opponent Hillary Clinton.

And the investment bank's CEO Lloyd Blankfein said at an event hosted by The Wall Street Journal in September that the thought of Trump having his "finger on the button blows my mind" -- an apparent reference to a president's ability to launch nuclear weapons.

Blankfein did not mention Trump or the changing political landscape in the company's earnings report on Wednesday, however.

He merely said that he was pleased the bank did well in the fourth quarter "after a challenging first half" and that the "environment improved" later in the year.

So investors will be looking for Blankfein to elaborate on just how much has changed since Trump's win.

Blankfein, who is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, was not on the company's conference call with investors Wednesday morning though.

New Goldman Sachs president and co-COO Harvey Schwartz led the call, with deputy CFO Martin Chavez also participating.

Two of Blankfein's competitors, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon and Bank of America (BAC) CEO Brian Moynihan, were more vocal in recent earnings conference calls with investors about how sentiment has seemed to change for the better on Wall Street and with consumers after Trump's win.

It's also worth noting that, despite Trump's attacks on Goldman Sachs during the campaign, he has started to stack his administration with alumni of the powerful bank.

Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin and chief strategist Steve Bannon both worked at Goldman.

And Gary Cohn, formerly Goldman's chief operating officer and a person widely thought to be a potential successor to Blankfein, has left Goldman to become Trump's chair of White House National Economic Council.

Schwartz said the firm will miss Cohn and was proud of both him and the fact that Goldman Sachs has a long tradition of executives serving key roles in Washington.

With that in mind, the perception that Goldman Sachs, which also had executives serve in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, is Government Sachs -- a company with an inordinate amount of influence in Washington -- may not change much under Trump.

One analyst, Glenn Schorr of Evercore, even joked on the Goldman Sachs conference call that maybe some of the bank's former employees will tweet more to help increase trading activity.

The expectation that Trump will be pro-Wall Street is also a reason why shares of Goldman Sachs, along with rivals JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley (MS) and Citigroup (C), have soared since the election. Even scandal ridden Wells Fargo (WFC) has surged.
Suicide Blast Kills More Than 40 in Northern Mali Military Camp
By Souleymane Ag Anara

Militants killed at least 42 people and wounded more than 100 others when they detonated an explosives-laden vehicle inside a military camp in Mali's northern city of Gao on Wednesday, the deadliest suicide bomb attack in the country's history.

The attack struck at the heart of still fragile efforts by the government and rival armed groups to work together to quell the violence that has plagued the restive desert north for years.

The bombers forced their way into the camp shortly before 9 a.m. (0900 GMT), running over several people before blowing up the vehicle just as 600 soldiers were assembling, said Radhia Achouri, a spokeswoman Mali's U.N. peacekeeping force MINUSMA.

A Reuters reporter at the site soon after the blast saw dozens of bodies lying on the ground alongside the wounded as ambulances rushed to the camp and helicopters circled overhead.

"I've just left the hospital where there were bodies ripped to pieces and wounded piled up," said Gao resident Kader Toure.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita declared three days of national mourning.

State media put the death toll at 47, including five suicide bombers, and army spokesman Diarran Kone said that 115 people were also wounded.


The camp housed government soldiers and members of rival armed groups who were due soon to begin conducting joint patrols under a U.N.-brokered peace deal aimed at easing local tensions so the government could focus on fighting Islamist militants.

A French-led military intervention in 2013 drove back insurgent groups, some with links to al Qaeda, that had seized northern Mali a year earlier.

But Islamist militants still operate in the region and conduct frequent attacks.

"The significance of this attack is that it strikes at the very heart of the Algiers peace agreement," said Sean Smith, a West Africa analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, referring to the U.N.-brokered accord.

French interior minister Bruno Le Roux described the blast as a "highly symbolic attack" in an area visited only days ago by President Francois Hollande.

France says Mali army camp explosion is major 'symbolic attack'

"This attack does fit into the idea that Islamists would attack anyone who works with the government," a diplomat told Reuters.

Gao is a dusty town of 50,000 people on the banks of the Niger river. The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali is the world's most dangerous, and its offices in Gao were flattened by a truck bomb in December.

In addition to the 13,000-strong U.N. force, France also has troops in the region.

Before Wednesday's blast, the worst militant attack on the former French colony was a November 2015 assault by jihadist gunmen on a Radisson hotel in the capital, Bamako, in which 20 people were killed.

(Reporting by Adama Diarra and Tiemoko Diallo in Bamako, Nellie Peyton in Dakar and David Lewis in Nairobi; Writing by Ed Cropley; Editing by Joe Bavier and Richard Lough)
Mali Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 50 People in Gao Military Camp
Attack marks significant setback for peace efforts in region after vehicle explosion hits joint operational mechanism base

Associated Press in Gao
Wednesday 18 January 2017 09.45 EST

A suicide bomber in a vehicle full of explosives has attacked a camp in northern Mali, killing at least 50 people and wounding dozens of soldiers and former fighters.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion quickly fell on Islamic extremist groups operating in the area. The attack marks a significant setback for efforts to achieve peace in the region.

The blast hit the joint operational mechanism base in the city of Gao, home to Malian soldiers and hundreds of former fighters who had signed a peace agreement with the government. Dismembered bodies could still be seen two hours after the blast.

The death toll rose over the course of Wednesday morning and had reached more than 50 by 1.30pm local time (1330 GMT), a military official said.

Sadou Maiga, a doctor at Gao’s hospital, said all other hospital activities had ceased as medical staff focused on the dozens of wounded blast victims arriving.

“Some have died from their wounds, and others are in a very grave state,” he said. “At this point, it’s not the toll of dead and injured that interests me, it’s saving who I can.”

Witnesses said the car bearing explosives breached the camp at about 9am as hundreds of fighters were gathering for a meeting. The bomber “succeeded in tricking soldiers’ vigilance” and penetrated the camp, said army spokesman Col Diarran Kone.

The attack underscores the enormous challenges that remain in northern Mali four years after the French military led an intervention to drive jihadis from power in the major towns across the north. The peace agreement has proved difficult to implement and unpopular with the forces wreaking havoc in the region.

The former fighters who signed the 2015 peace deal include ethnic Tuareg secular rebels who once fought the Malian military. Now they are supposed to be forming joint patrols in the area, though the programme has yet to begin.

Mali has become the world’s deadliest United Nations peacekeeping mission. Twenty-nine UN personnel were killed last year in attacks blamed on armed jihadi groups, according to a Human Rights Watch report released on Wednesday.

The report details how extremists are extending their reach further into central Mali, trying to implement their strict interpretation of sharia law and pressuring families to give up their children as soldiers for the cause.

It also denounces rising levels of banditry, a phenomenon victims say is fuelled by the slow implementation of the 2015 peace accord.

Mali’s security minister, Salif TraorĂ©, declined to respond to the report’s specifics but said he was well aware of security challenges throughout the region.
U.S. Accuses JPMorgan of Mortgage Discrimination in Lawsuit
Nathan Bomey , USA TODAY
8:50 a.m. ET Jan. 18, 2017

The U.S. government filed a lawsuit Wednesday accusing JPMorgan Chase of discriminating against "thousands" of black, Hispanic mortgage borrowers from 2006 through 2009.

The bank charged minority borrowers higher mortgage interest rates and fees during that period, compared to "similarly situated white borrowers," according to the government's lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed by U.S. attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York, alleges that the average black or Hispanic home buyer paid about $1,000 more than white borrowers with the same risk profile.

Altogether, the alleged discrimination cost at least 53,000 borrowers "tens of millions of dollars in damages," the government said.

A JPMorgan Chase spokesperson was not immediately available for comment Wednesday morning. But JPMorgan Chase attorneys denied the allegations in a response filed in court Wednesday morning. The company demanded that a federal judge dismiss the lawsuit and award attorneys fees and other relief to Chase.

The U.S. government is seeking damages for borrowers, civil penalties and an order preventing further discrimination.

The bank gave its mortgage brokers the discretion to adjust pricing based on factors not related to borrower risk without documentation or justification, the government alleged. The lawsuit also accuses Chase of rewarding brokers with bonuses for charging interest rates above those based on standard credit criteria.

The average black borrower paid about $1,126 more over the first five years on an average loan of $191,100, according to the government, while the average Hispanic borrower paid about $968 more on an average loan of $236,800.

"Even when Chase had reason to know there were disparities, however, Chase did not act to determine the full scope of these wholesale pricing disparities, nor did it take prompt and effective action to eliminate those disparities, nor did it engage in adequate efforts to remedy the impact of those disparities upon the borrowers," the plaintiffs charged in the lawsuit.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.
Habitat for Humanity Detroit Reports Layoffs, Closures
The Detroit News
11:39 p.m. ET Jan. 17, 2017

The organization that renovates houses to get them ready for low-income homeowners needs a little rehab itself.

Habitat for Humanity Detroit is undergoing a “strategic restructuring” that includes laying off most employees and closing ReStore locations, the agency announced Tuesday.

The group cited “ongoing challenges,” including financial issues.

“When I joined the organization roughly a year ago, the board charged me with addressing several financial issues,” said Ken Cockrel Jr., executive director. “These included a mortgage delinquency rate over 40 percent among our homeowners, a large number of empty homes in our portfolio, and ReStores that had not been profitable.”

Habitat Detroit has worked to modify homeowner loans and eliminate nonessential positions, a statement announcing the restructuring said. Its two resale stores are on Mack Avenue near Cadieux on the west side and Greenfield at Interstate 96 on the east side.

“While the organization has seen some improvement in ReStore revenues and reduced the delinquency rate, Habitat Detroit has also been hit hard by the loss of government funding and a decline in corporate sponsorships,” the statement said. “As a result, the organization has had to take a long hard look at the current business model.”

The goal, the statement said, “is to see staff levels increase by early spring, open a new ReStore location and reorganize the agency to provide a higher level of service pursuant to our mission to provide strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter.”

Cockrel could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Habitat for Humanity is an international, nonprofit, Christian-based organization, according to its website. Founded in 1977, its goal is to provide low-income families with affordable housing. Habitat Detroit is entering its 31st year. In 1986, the group bought its first three houses for $1 apiece and began renovating them, the website said. A family moved into the first Habitat Detroit renovated home the following year.
Judge: Details of Downtown Pistons Deal Must be Public
Louis Aguilar, The Detroit News
7:15 p.m. ET Jan. 17, 2017
(Photo: Todd McInturf / The Detroit News)

Details on how the city forged a tentative deal that will bring the Detroit Pistons downtown need to be made public, a Wayne County Circuit Court judge has ruled.

Judge John Gillis Jr. has ordered the finance committee of the city’s Downtown Development Authority to bring notes and audio recordings of its private meeting held in November to a Wayne County Circuit Court on Jan. 26. The ruling stems from a lawsuit claiming the DDA violated the state’s Open Meetings Act; it seeks to abolish the preliminary agreement between the city and the Pistons about moving downtown.

The lawsuit was filed by Robert Davis, who has filed numerous lawsuits against Gov. Rick Snyder and government agencies over public transparency issues.

The DDA says it is standard policy not to comment on pending litigation.

The DDA is a major force in shaping downtown. It supports private investments and business growth in the central business district with loans, sponsorships, grants and capital improvements. Property owners within the DDA district pay a 1-mill property tax to fund the basic operation of the agency.

On Friday, Judge Gillis ordered the five members of the DDA finance committee to show up in court next week. In addition to bringing documentation from the November meeting, the city agency must explain why the judge shouldn’t issue a preliminary injunction that would prevent the committee from holding more private meetings.

The committee’s members include city government officials (Melvin “Butch” Hollowell, Detroit corporation counsel; and John Naglick, deputy CFO for the city of Detroit) and three private citizens (David Blaszkiewicz, of the Detroit Investment Fund; Sonya Delley; and Stephen Ogden, of Rock Ventures).

During a Nov. 22 meeting, the finance committee met for four hours, allegedly discussing the deal expected to bring the Pistons downtown to play in Little Caesars Arena, according to the lawsuit. Little Caesars Arena is the still-under-construction multimillion-dollar venue that also will be the home ice of the Detroit Red Wings. The arena is owned by the DDA.

Part of the tentative agreement includes a request for up to $34.5 million in taxpayer-backed bonds to pay for arena upgrades for the Pistons. The deal is preliminary. It must still be approved by the Detroit City Council and the National Basketball Association.

After the finance committee met privately in November, the DDA’s full board of directors met on the same day and approved the tentative agreement during a brief public meeting. Immediately after that public meeting, a celebratory press conference had already been scheduled to announce the tentative agreement designed to bring the NBA team back to the city from suburban Oakland County.

UN: Two Darfur Rebel Groups Retreat to Libya, South Sudan
(18 Jan.)

Two rebel groups driven out of Darfur by a Sudanese military offensive now operate mostly in Libya and South Sudan but hope to return to fight again, according to a new UN report Monday.

Sudan meanwhile is breaking out of international isolation -- the Obama administration eased its sanctions on Friday -- giving the Khartoum government "more leeway to pursue a Darfur deal on its own terms," said the report by a panel of experts.

"JEM and SLA/MM no longer have a significant presence in Darfur as a result of the government’s effective counterinsurgency strategy," said the report.

"JEM now operates mostly in South Sudan, while SLA/MM operates mainly in Libya. These groups are engaged in mercenary activities and, allegedly, in criminal activities in those countries," it added.

The JEM and SLA/MM have adopted a "waiting strategy," working to rebuild their fighting forces in Libya and South Sudan until there are "new opportunities to re-engage in Darfur with strengthened military capabilities," said the report.

The UN Security Council is expected to discuss peace efforts in Darfur on Friday.
Scramble to Treat Wounded After Botched Nigeria Air Strike
Aminu Abubakar
January 18, 2017

Millions have been displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency and the Nigerian military offensive to drive the jihadists from Borno state

Maiduguri (Nigeria) - Scores of injured people were on Wednesday airlifted to hospital for treatment after a botched air strike on Boko Haram Islamists in Nigeria killed at least 52 civilians and aid workers.

Nigeria called Tuesday's incident at a camp for displaced people a mistake and blamed the "fog of war" but aid groups working in the crisis-hit north issued strong condemnation.

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said more than 120 people were wounded in the bombing in Rann, in the far north of Borno state, the epicentre of the jihadists' insurgency.

Six Nigerian Red Cross workers were among the dead, while 11 others were injured, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The Borno governor Kashim Shettima has ordered public hospitals and doctors in the state capital, Maiduguri, to be on standby to receive casualties.

But there were already reports that some casualty departments were overwhelmed as injured people arrived by helicopter.

- 'Redress for victims' -

With fears the death toll could rise, there was condemnation from aid agencies assisting the hundreds of thousands of people in the region in dire need of food, shelter, clean water and healthcare.

"Displacement camps are supposed to be safe havens for people fleeing war and conflict," said the secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland.

"It cannot become the new normal that 'accidental' attacks on camps sheltering the innocent are allowed to happen again and again in conflict zones," he added in a statement.

Human Rights Watch's senior Nigeria researcher Mausi Segun said the government in Abuja should provide "prompt, adequate and effective compensation" to victims and their families.

"Even if there is no evidence of a wilful attack on the camp, which would be a war crime, the camp was bombed indiscriminately, violating international humanitarian law," she added.

"Victims should not be denied redress merely because the government decided the bombing was accidental."

Accidental bombings have occurred before in the conflict and senior military commanders called the latest "a mistake" yet maintained humanitarian workers were not targeted directly.

Major General Lucky Irabor, who heads the counter-insurgency operation, said the air force jet had been told to target insurgents in the flashpoint Kala-Balge area but hit Rann instead.

He blamed the error on "the fog of war".

The aid workers were distributing food at the military-run camp housing tens of thousands of people.

- 'Shocking and unacceptable' -

Jean-Clement Cabrol, the director of operations for MSF, called the attack "shocking and unacceptable".

"The safety of civilians must be respected," he said.

Toby Lanzer, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel region, told AFP: "Never in my 20 years of work in crisis setting have I seen such an incident."

Local and international aid agencies have until recently been unable to get to Rann because of bad roads and insecurity in the remote region around Lake Chad.

The military announced last month it has ousted Boko Haram from its camps in Sambisa Forest, in southern Borno, sending fighters north.

Nigeria's military has announced an investigation into what happened. The Daily Trust newspaper reported that clearly marked ICRC tents were bombed, without quoting sources.

MSF said none of its staff was injured or killed but disclosed that three employees of a Cameroonian firm it hired to provide water and sanitation services lost their lives.

One aid worker told AFP colleagues were "stunned" at what happened and suggested civilians were likely to have been caught up in previous bombing raids in the remote region.

"I'm sure it (the bombing in Rann) is an accident but why would they (the Nigerian military) bomb a place that they're guarding?" the aid worker said on condition of anonymity.

Ties have been strained between humanitarian agencies and the Nigerian authorities, who have accused some aid organisations of exaggerating the food crisis triggered by the insurgency.

In December, Save the Children said 4.7 million people in the northeast needed food assistance and some 400,000 children were at imminent risk of starvation.

The presidency called some of the claims "hyperbolic" while the Borno state governor recently accused some aid agencies of profiting from the crisis.
WikiLeaks Said Julian Assange Would Agree to Extradition if Chelsea Manning Was Granted Clemency
Sarah Begley @SCBegley
Jan. 17, 2017    

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy, where he continues to seek asylum following an extradition request from Sweden in 2012, on Feb. 5, 2016, in London

The announcement came days before Obama commuted Manning's sentence

Five days before President Obama commuted Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence, WikiLeaks tweeted that the group’s editor in chief Julian Assange would agree to be extradited to the U.S. if Manning was given clemency.

Obama’s decision means Manning will be released in May instead of in 2045, when her sentence was originally due to end, the New York Times reports. She leaked hundreds of thousands of military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, for which she was convicted in 2013

“If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case,” WikiLeaks tweeted on Thursday. Assange has been in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012, and if extradited to the U.S., would likely be prosecuted for his involvement in the publication of millions of leaked, secret documents. (He also faces Swedish allegations of rape and sexual assault.)

Edward Snowden also threw his support behind clemency for Manning, tweeting on Wednesday, “Mr. President, if you grant only one act of clemency as you exit the White House, please: free Chelsea Manning. You alone can save her life.”

Commenting on Snowden and Manning’s pleas for clemency on Friday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest contrasted the two cases. “Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing,” he said, according to the Times. “Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary, and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy.”

WikiLeaks had not yet tweeted in response to the news as of late Tuesday afternoon.
Donald Trump’s Approval Ratings Have Hit a Historic Low Before He Takes Office
Madeline Farber
Jan. 17, 2017    

The least popular incoming president in at least four decades

Donald Trump doesn’t take office as President of the United States until Friday, but his approval ratings have already hit a historic low for incoming American presidents, according to new polls.

Trump’s current approval rating is 40%, the lowest of any recent incoming president, and about 44 points below that of President Obama, according to a CNN/ORC survey. And a Washington Post/ABC poll mirrors CNN’s findings: Trump will take office as the least popular incoming president in at least four decades, according to the survey.

Meanwhile, Trump’s approval ratings for how he has handled the transition are 20 points below those of the three Presidents that came before him: Obama took the oath in 2009 with an 84% approval rating, Bill Clinton with 67% in 1992, and 61% approved of George W. Bush’s transition shortly before he took office January 2001, according to CNN.

Trump dismissed the new surveys in a Tuesday morning Twitter post.

“The same people who did the phony election polls, and were so wrong, are now doing approval rating polls. They are rigged just like before,” he said.

While Trump’s low approval ratings are due to a variety of factors, his controversial response to Russia’s reported interference in the 2016 election has had a notable impact, according to the Post/ABC poll, with many Americans believing Trump has been “too friendly” to Russia.
The White House Concedes It Won’t Close Guantanamo Bay Detention Center After All
Josh Lederman and Ben Fox / AP
Jan. 17, 2017    

(WASHINGTON)—The White House said Tuesday that the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba will still be open when President Barack Obama leaves office, conceding that a core campaign promise will go unfulfilled.

Administration officials had long insisted that the president was continuing to work toward closing the facility even when it became obvious that it would no longer be possible for practical reasons before President-elect Donald Trump takes office Friday.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that the administration determined it wouldn’t happen when they realized they did not have enough time left to comply with the 30-day deadline for notifying Congress in advance of a detainee transfer.

“At this time, I don’t anticipate that we will succeed in that goal of closing the prison,” Earnest said. “But it’s not for a lack of trying, I assure you.”

Over the weekend, the U.S. transferred 10 low-level detainees from Guantanamo to Oman. Eight were from Yemen and two from Afghanistan, including an insurgent, Abdul Zahir, who was accused of possessing a white substance suspected to be a chemical or biological weapon but that turned out to be salt and sugar, according to his lawyer, Air Force Lt. Col. Sterling Thomas. All were deemed eligible for release after authorities determined they no longer posed a threat.

Their release lowered the number of detainees to 45, with a few more releases expected in the administration’s final days.

Trump said during the campaign that he not only wants to keep Guantanamo open but “load it up with some bad dudes.” Earlier this month, he said there should be no further releases of men he called “extremely dangerous people.”

The U.S. began using its military base on southeast Cuba’s isolated, rocky coast to hold prisoners captured after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack and at the start of the war in Afghanistan. At its peak, the facility held nearly 680 detainees. It was down to 242 when Obama took office in 2009, pledging to close what had become a source of international criticism over the treatment of detainees and the notion of holding people indefinitely, most without charge.

Congress thwarted Obama’s effort to close the detention center with restrictions on transfers, including the requirement of a 30-day notice, and a ban on moving detainees to the U.S. for any reason, including trial. The administration launched a case-by-case review process to winnow down the population, moving 193 prisoners to 42 countries for repatriation, resettlement or prosecution.

Earnest blamed politics for failing to close the detention center, which he called a waste of money and “recruiting tool” for terrorists. “Members of Congress in both parties, frankly, played with this issue,” he said.

Human rights groups and others who have called for the closure of the detention center have criticized Obama for not acting forcefully enough to shutter it at the start of his administration.

Tom Wilner, a Washington lawyer who helped secure the right of detainees to challenge their detention, hopes Trump will take a fresh look at the situation.

“I think if he looks at the facts objectively he will really see that Guantanamo really is a bad deal for America,” Wilner said. “There’s no benefit to it, it’s grossly expensive and it hurts our reputation.”

Associated Press writer Josh Lederman reported this story in Washington and AP writer Ben Fox reported from Miami.
15th January 2017

Speaking at the opening of the first conference of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa in 1963, the legendary Ghanaian statesman Kwame Nkrumah reminded representatives of the African postcolonial movements that attaining freedom was only the first step towards liberation.

Nkrumah noted:

“The struggle against colonialism does not end with the attainment of national independence. Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs; to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist controls and interference.”

In the year that Africa’s oldest liberation movement, the African National Congress (ANC) marks 105 years since its founding in Mangaung – his words ring true today as they did back then.

As the development of the country has not followed a straight, linear trajectory but has experienced peaks as well as troughs, so too has the ANC

The task before us as we enter another year as the leader of society is to reclaim lost ground following a number of challenges and setbacks – and in this regard, party unity will be paramount.

It is for this reason the ANC has chosen Unity in Action as one of the key themes of the party’s 105th birthday celebrations. The reality is that a weak, divided ANC is bad for the country, and a strong, united ANC bodes well for the future of South Africa.

Ever since the delivery of the very first January 8th statement was delivered by ANC President Oliver Reginald Tambo in 1972, the ANC has used the occasion to highlight progress in the quest for political, social and economic emancipation of our people. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to outline the ANC’s priorities for the year ahead.

This year’s celebrations are taking place following the 2016 municipal elections wherein the ANC won the majority of the vote nationally but experienced a number of electoral setbacks in certain key areas.

As an organization attuned to the concerns of the country’s citizens, we are acutely aware that dissatisfaction with the progress in the fight against crime, corruption and the creation of jobs undoubtedly played a role in the electoral outcome. We also did ourselves no favours when internal party battles played out in the public space on the eve of the polls. This dented citizens’ confidence in the ANC and it is imperative that we reclaim lost ground as a matter of urgency.

We are alive to the challenges we face, and do not make light of them. However, these need to be contextualized within a socio-political context where the governing party still faces an enormous uphill battle of undoing the legacy of centuries of dispossession and discrimination that relegated the majority of our people to the periphery of the country’s development.

As we mark the founding of the ANC, we have made a call for the rejuvenation of our movement and a return to the core values upon which the party was founded. It is only through returning to these founding values that we will be able to realize the aspirations of our people towards a South Africa that is united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous.

As Nkrumah noted however, ‘no sporadic act nor pious resolution can solve our present problems’, and we need to be ever vigilant that the pitfalls we are facing as a movement do not sink us, or cause us to fall prey to the malaise of political complacency.

To advance our programme of societal transformation we have to listen to the voices of the people, and act to resolve their concerns.

Only a united party can achieve this.

In this year ahead, the ANC commits itself to rebuilding the trust of the electorate, and re-asserting our place as the leader of all progressive forces who yearn for radical socio-economic change.

Saluting delegates to the Fourth Congress of Frelimo in Maputo in 1985, then ANC President OR Tambo said:

“You have had your difficulties, but also your triumphs in tackling the twin scourges of our continent, namely underdevelopment and neocolonialism.”

“You have embarked upon building a single nation, with a strong common patriotism and a vigorous cultural personality, out of a population formerly divided by racism, regionalism and tribalism. You have built up your Party and created new organs of People’s Power..”

The ANC too has had its difficulties, but let us not underestimate or neglect our triumphs.

The ANC, the party of Tambo, of Mandela, of Mbeki, of Sisulu, and of Zuma has also succeeded in building a single nation out of a divided population.

As we mark 105 years since the ANC’s founding, it is necessary to reflect on our challenges, yes, but at the same time let us never lose sight of just how far we have come.

Cde. Jessie Duarte is ANC Deputy Secretary-General.
ANC Today, January 15, 2017

As we celebrate the 105th anniversary of the African National Congress, the National Executive Committee, correctly declared 2017 as the year of Unity in Action.

During this year we will also celebrate the centenary of the birth of our revered leader, Oliver Reginald Tambo. He was the glue that kept the ANC as a united disciplined revolutionary movement under the most challenging times in the history of our struggle.

It is indeed in true African tradition and practice that in difficult times we summon the spirits of our ancestors to help us navigate through what might seem to be insurmountable problems haunting us as the living. In doing this we seek to emulate the best qualities bequeathed to us by those who led us through stormy weathers in their lifetime.

The combination of the clarion call for the 105th celebration of the birth of our movement and the centenary of the birth of Comrade OR affords us the opportunity for deep reflection and introspection.

We can’t escape posing the question as to whether we are still on cause in our stewardship of the National Democratic Revolution. We also have to honestly and frankly answer painful questions related to whether we still have the mantle to deliver on the aspirations and expectations of the embattled masses of our people?

We somehow in the decisions taken in the last NEC meeting mapped out activities which will help us begin to answer the question; what is to be done to act in unity to restore the glory of the ANC that OR handed over to us intact and pleaded with us to look after it.

The NEC correctly decided that we should organize an MKVA conference which should result in uniting ex MK combatants primarily to take care of the challenges they face and to contribute towards efforts to unite our movement.

The revitalization and strengthening of Veterans League as the reservoir of political and organizational experience to embolden our long stated goal of organizational renewal is welcomed.

The league can also contribute immensely towards political education of our membership on the history, traditions and values that made the ANC survive this long. The convening of a conference of the Veterans League is an important, strategic and timely development.

When the movement under the leadership of Comrade OR averted crises and consolidated efforts to intensify the struggle, we convened in Morogoro and Kabwe, closed ranks and charted the path that led to the freedom of our people.

Let the envisaged National Consultative Conference help us deal with organizational matters that will help us consolidate our unity of purpose as the entire revolutionary alliance led by the ANC.

History beacons on us to march in unison as a united political army to deliver on a policy conference that guarantees certainty on the future of our country. We have the tools and previous decisions and resolutions of policy conferences, NGCs and elective conferences to guide us to a successful elective conference in December.

Let us take leaf from the volumes of lessons from the life of this unifier, thinker, strategist, his exemplary revolutionary morality, personal conduct, diplomat, pan Africanist, internationalist and above all an inspirational fighter for freedom which every cadre of our movement must aspire to be.

Long live the undying spirit of Comrade President Oliver Tambo!!! Long live the revolutionary alliance led by the ANC!!!

Happy 105th anniversary of ANC!!!


Cde. Welile Nhlapo was formerly South Africa’s ambassador to the US. A career diplomat, he was the ANC’s Chief Representative in Botswana and Head of the Political Section in the ANC Secretary-General’s office.
ANC Today, January 16, 2017

 This month we mark the 105th birthday of the oldest liberation movement on this continent, the African National Congress.

 This tremendous achievement is the result of the dedication, sacrifice and hard work of millions of people – in South Africa and across the world – who acted in unity to ensure that we can live in a free South Africa.

 As we celebrate the 105th anniversary of our movement, we gather also to pay tribute to a hero of our people and a true son of this soil.

 Oliver Reginald Tambo, the longest-serving President of our movement, would have been 100 years old this year.

The National Executive Committee of the ANC has therefore decided to dedicate this year – his centenary – to him.

 This is the year of Oliver Reginald Tambo.

 This is the year in which we celebrate his extraordinary life and supreme contribution to our freedom.

 This is the year in which we honour his memory by pledging to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage, to achieve his vision of a free, democratic and united society.

 This is the year in which we affirm the statement by former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela when he declared:

 “I say that Oliver Tambo has not died, because the ideals for which he sacrificed his life can never die…

 “I say that Oliver Tambo has not died because the ideals of freedom, human dignity and a colour-blind respect for every individual cannot perish.

 “While the ANC lives, Oliver Tambo cannot die!”

 Today we say that for as long as we keep alive the ideals for which Oliver Tambo lived and sacrificed, the ANC will not die.

 For Oliver Tambo, this son of Mbizana, the unity of our people and the integrity of our liberation movement was paramount.

 When the ANC sent him to establish the ANC in exile, he understood that he had been entrusted the task of ensuring that the movement survives the brutal onslaught unleashed by the apartheid regime on our people and on the members, leaders and structures of our movement.

 But more than that, he had been entrusted with the task of rebuilding a powerful instrument of national liberation.

 He understood that no matter the difficulties of the moment, he was to be the glue that would bind our glorious movement together.

 Addressing the people on 68th anniversary of the ANC in 1980, he spoke words that are just as true over 30 years later.

 He said:

 “The need for the unity of the patriotic and democratic forces of our country has never been greater than it is today.

 “Our unity has to be based on honesty among ourselves, the courage to face reality, adherence to what has been agreed upon, to principle.”

 Now, in 2017, in the circumstances of the present, we are bound to acknowledge that the need for the unity of the patriotic and democratic forces of our country has never been greater than it is today.

 For although we have made great progress since 1994 in improving the lives of our people, we have not yet overcome poverty, hunger, disease, unemployment, illiteracy and inequality.

 We have improved the lives of millions of our people.

 But we have not yet achieved the objective of a better life for all.

 This January 8th, we are saying that we will not be able to build a better life for our people without a strong, united and capable ANC.

 This January 8th, we must have the courage to face the reality that our movement is currently under severe strain.

 We must be honest enough to recognise that disunity, mistrust, ideological incoherence and organisational weakness is undermining our ability to address the challenges that confront our people.

 Building the unity of the ANC and the Alliance is therefore the most important and urgent task of the moment.

 In the January 8th Statement, which the President presented to the nation last week, the ANC National Executive Committee notes that the organisation is confronted by divisive practices.

 At all levels of the organisation, in our leagues and even among some components of the Alliance, leadership contests are accompanied by practices such gatekeeping, vote buying, electoral fraud and even violence.

 We must face the reality that much of the factionalism in our movement is rooted in a competition for access to resources.

 We must acknowledge here that there are instances where internal ANC processes have been infiltrated by individuals and companies seeking preferential access to state business.

 Often, people are recruited to the ANC not to build the organisation, but to provide votes to one or another faction.

 Like Oliver Tambo did, the leaders of our movement must be disciplined and act at all times to promote unity.

 Many of the divisions that currently exist in our movement are divisions among leaders, not divisions among members.

 These are divisions not based on ideological or political differences.

 They are not based on disagreements over strategy or policy.

 These are divisions that are fuelled by a relentless competition for positions, influence and control over resources.

 This is the reality that we are determined to change.

 We are dedicating this year, 2017, to correcting the many mistakes that we have made, to ending the deviant practices that are slowly destroying our organisation.

 We need to make the act of joining the ANC a more meaningful and valued process.

 Members of the ANC must feel on their shoulders the burden of responsibility.

 Like Oliver Tambo, they must understand that they have been entrusted with the future of the movement and with the successful prosecution of the struggle of our people.

 Each one of us must understand ourselves to be the glue that holds this organisation together.

 The January 8th Statement provides us with a plan of action to unite and rebuild the movement.

 We need to insulate state procurement processes from political interference.

 We need to strengthen internal processes for managing potential conflicts of interest and alleged criminal conduct and ethical breaches.

 At the same time, we need to embrace the concept of revolutionary discipline as understood and practiced by Oliver Tambo.

 He did not understood discipline as primarily a matter of rules, regulations and sanction.

 For him, discipline was the product of a deliberate political decision by an individual to dedicate their capabilities, resources and energy to the achievement of the aims of the movement.

 For him, discipline was a consequence of the decision of an individual to join the African National Congress.

 Discipline does not earn praise. It does not bring personal reward.

 It is about working hard and placing the interests of the people above one’s own interests.

 It is about fighting factionalism, resisting corruption, safeguarding public resources.

 This is the year in which we must make decisive progress in the growth and transformation of our economy.

 We know that we will not create the jobs our people seek unless we grow the economy.

 That is why we are intensifying our industrial incentive programmes, establishing special economic zones and investing in infrastructure.

In the Eastern Cape, for example, these measures are contributing to the sustainability and expansion of the auto industry.

 They are resulting in significant new investments in the Coega Industrial Development Zone.

 In the next few years, significant investment in the region’s transport and water infrastructure will bring extensive economic benefits.

We know that we will not create the jobs our people seek unless weimprove the skills and capabilities of our youth.

 We wish to congratulate the Eastern Cape’s 2016 matriculants for having recorded a 2.5% improvement in the overall pass rate.

 While there has been progress, we must acknowledge that we are still falling far short of the province’s potential.

 We welcome the efforts of the Eastern Cape provincial government to prioritise assistance to struggling schools, improving school management, developing and maintaining school infrastructure, and addressing the shortage of teachers.

 In 2017, we need to dedicate resources and energy to the most challenged schools to ensure all learners in the province receive the quality education they deserve.

 This province is home to prestigious educational institutions like Lovedale College and the University of Fort Hare, institutions that played a leading role in shaping generations of African leaders.

 Today, the various higher education institutions in the province – including this one – are shaping a new generation of African leaders, academics, artisans and professionals.

 They are following in the footsteps of Oliver Tambo, a dedicated teacher and a lifelong champion of the value of education.

 In honouring his memory, we will work this year to expand access to quality higher education to more South Africans from poor communities.

 Through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, government will be funding more than 400,000 students at universities and TVET colleges this year.

 We will continue to engage with institutions, students and other stakeholders on how to address the funding challenges in higher education in a sustainable manner.

The January 8th Statement says that it is time to return the land to our people.

 Our land reform and land redistribution programmes have shown measurable success.

 However, too many of our people continue to suffer from the historic injustice of land dispossession.

This year, we will use the Expropriation of Land Act to pursue land reform and land redistribution with greater speed and urgency.

 We call on communities and traditional leaders to work together with government to speedily resolve land claims.

 We need to work together to ensure that land is ultimately used for the benefit of communities and to build local economies.

 This year, we will continue to work together to promote local economic development, particularly in centres like Mthatha where there is great potential for localisation and empowerment.

 We will continue to create opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme, with an emphasis on work experience and skills for women and young people.

 We will not be able to build a better life for our people unless we can mobilise society as a whole to tackle the challenges we face.

 Oliver Tambo was excellent at building alliances.

 It was thanks to his alliance-building efforts that the anti-apartheid movement led one of the largest and most effective global campaigns of the 20th century.

 Like him, we must work to mobilise different groupings around commonprogrammes for change and development.

 We must build alliances with formations across the length and breadth of South Africa in pursuit of our goal of radical economic transformation.

 We must build alliances within communities to advance development.

 We must build alliances with fraternal parties and social formations across Africa to pursue the growth and development of our continent.

 We must build alliances with other countries, with political parties, with international organisations and leading global figures in our effort to build a better, more just and more equitable world.

 In 2017, we must deepen our efforts to build a non-racial and non-sexist society.

Throughout his life, Oliver Tambo fought to tear down the barriers of prejudice, ignorance and injustice.

 He was unreservedly committed to the emancipation of women.

 He challenged patriarchy in all its forms, both within society and within the liberation movement.

 He understood that the achievement of gender equality was a responsibility of both men and women.

 Tambo was determined that the ANC should be a truly non-racial organisation.

 He sought to create a country where there will be neither whites nor blacks, just South Africans, free and united in diversity.

 We must dedicate ourselves to tackling discrimination and oppression in whatever form it takes, whether in the home, in the workplace, in the institutions of state, or on social media.

 We need to ensure that we respect, uphold and restore the dignity of all our people.

 Let me conclude with the words that Madiba spoke as he said farewell to his life-long comrade, Oliver Tambo.

He said:

 “Go well, my brother and farewell, dear friend.

 As you instructed, we will bring peace to our tormented land.

 As you directed, we will bring freedom to the oppressed and liberation to the oppressor.

 As you strived, we will restore the dignity of the dehumanised.

 As you commanded, we will defend the option of a peaceful resolution of our problems.

 As you prayed, we will respond to the cries of the wretched of the earth.

 As you loved them, we will, always, stretch out a hand of endearment to those who are your flesh and blood.

 In all this, we will not fail you.”

 As we begin 2017, let us declare here that we will not fail OR Tambo.

 Let us declare that we will strive to build the free, just and prosperous society of which he dreamed.

 Let us declare that we will unite, restore and renew the glorious movement to which he dedicated his life.

 Let us work to ensure that ANC lives and the ANC leads.

Cde. Cyril Ramaphosa is ANC Deputy President.

-This is taken from an address given at the Eastern Cape ANC 105th anniversary celebrations in Mthatha