Monday, January 26, 2015

No Government Can Fix Nigeria in Four Years – Jonathan
Published on Tuesday, 27 January 2015 05:02
Written by Isiaka Wakili & Abdulateef Aliyu, Ilorin
Nigerian Daily Trust

President Goodluck Jonathan has declared that there no government could solve Nigeria’s problems within four years.

The president made this declaration, yesterday when he paid a courtesy call on the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari in continuation of his re-election campaign.

He emphasised that beyond tackling the Boko Haram insurgency, his administration was addressing other challenges in several sectors of the economy, including creating jobs through diverse means.

He said: “Beyond tackling the insurgency, we are creating road networks; we are moving faster in several sectors. There is no way within four years any government can finish the programmes of this country”.

The President’s declaration contrasted sharply with his previous remark over four years ago in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Jonathan had while interacting with Nigerians in Addis-Ababa, in February 2011, promised that if voted in for the next four years, he would ensure significant improvement in power, especially.

He had said: “Without security, there is no government. So it is not debatable, it is something we have to address and we are working towards that with vigour.

“But if I’m voted into power within the next four years, the issue of power will become a thing of the past.

“Four years is enough for anyone in power to make significant improvement and if I can’t improve on power within this period, it then means I cannot do anything even if I am there for the next four years.”

The president disclosed that the military would take delivery of additional equipment beginning this week as part of his administration’s efforts towards containing the Boko Haram insurgency.

He expressed optimism that this would enable the country to move faster in another two weeks in curtailing the insurgency.

“We have been to many states, in Abuja, Sokoko, Gombe, Kano and Niger States and the north-east states of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa where we are battling insurgency.

“And we will surely give it a halt. We are creating platform for our military and in another two weeks, we would move faster than we have been moving before”, Jonathan said.

Jonathan added: “We have intervened in several programmes especially in the area of agriculture. We are committed to moving this country forward, to create jobs for the country through diverse means.

“We are working very hard to create jobs for our youths, we are encouraging the growth of small and medium enterprises in order to improve our economy and create wealth for the people”.

Jonathan noted that he was at the emir’s palace to personally inform the royal father that he was running for his “remaining time” in office.

“Today, we are here in this state for a political rally. Your Royal Highness, we are here for a purpose.

We have been here for a number of times. 2011, I was here. After that, I have been here.

“Today, we are here for the same mission that brought us in 2011. Even though you must have heard before, I’m here to personally tell you that I am running for my remaining time in office with my vice president who would continue to be my running mate”.

He introduced the gubernatorial candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state,

Senator Simeon Ajibola to the emir, and pledged that the people of Kwara State would continue to enjoy freedom and quality of life, if they vote in the PDP candidates.

In his remarks, the emir said having observed Jonathan’s performance over the years, he was convinced that he had done well.

He prayed God to crown Jonathan’s efforts with success and called on politicians to conduct their campaigns without violence.
EU Rules Out Observer Mission in North-East Nigeria
Published on Tuesday, 27 January 2015 05:01
Written by Balarabe Alkassim
Nigerian Daily Trust

Above Photo: APC Presidential Candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari and Chief Observer EU
Observation to Nigeria, Mr. Santiago Fisas Ayxelà addressing journalists after the end of the meeting between Buhari and EU Election Observers in Abuja Jan. 25, 2015.

Observers from the European Union will not be deployed in the North-East to monitor next month’s elections there.

Addressing journalists after a closed door meeting with the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate retired General Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja yesterday, leader of the delegation, Mr. Santiago Fisas, said the EU would not be in states affected by insurgency for security reasons.

He said the insecurity in the North-east would not allow the observers to freely move around there.

He however said they have contacts that would observe the elections in the area.

“We can’t be in the North-east for security reasons. But we have people deployed very close to the North-east and we have contacts there and so, try to get better information as much as we can have on the North-east. But the present situation does not allow us to go  there”, he said.

The delegation met with Buhari behind closed doors over issues concerning the elections.

Reliable sources said the talks bordered on the conduct of peaceful, free and fair elections. The team told Buhari that the mission would deploy 90 observers to monitor the election across the country.

Fisas said the first batch of 30 observers is presently in the country, and the second group would arrive  before the election.

He said the election is as important to the EU as it is to Nigeria as whatever happens in Nigeria would affect the whole of Africa and European Union.

He said the EU mission which had been involved in the Nigerian democratic process expects a peaceful and transparent election for the country to consolidate its democracy.

“The European Union election mission is a big mission. It is a mission that started in November and will be in place till mid April. What happens on election day is not only the problem. It is what happens during and within a space of time, how the law has been complied with, the propaganda, activities of the media and any possible claims after the elections. That is our role and not just to follow up the days of election.

“This is a very big country with so many inhabitants and so, it is not possible to cover everything. I can’t tell you that we will cover all the wards either for this election or for any other election”, he said.

Also speaking after the meeting, General Muhammadu Buhari described the EU observers as experienced people who have been covering elections in other countries.

“They are qualified to come for this election and as he observed they cannot cover all the 120,000 polling units but they will place people in strategic places to advise them,” he said.

While expressing support for the Abuja Peace Accord at a similar meeting with the PDP, the EU said it had no favoured candidate or political party.

“We apply international rules for the election, that means we must be neutral, we don’t interfere at all as a mission. I will give you an example. It is like a football march, we are not the referee, we are just spectators, “ he said.

PDP National Secretary, Prof Wale Oladipo, said the party would not go back on the peace accord despite the recent attacks on its campaign train by suspected supporters of the opposition.

 “We have a unique responsibility as the party in power. The stability of the country, the progress of the country, the image of the country, we have a duty to protect it and we shall continue to do that as a political party,” he said.
Kerry Meets Jonathan, Buhari Over Upcoming Elections
US Secretary of State John Kerry with Nigerian President
Goodluck Jonathan during a meeting in Abuja on Jan. 25, 2015.
Published on Monday, 26 January 2015 05:01
Written by Eugene Agha, Lagos & Isiaka Wakili, Abuja
Nigerian Daily Trust

President Goodluck Jonathan (right) and US Secretary of State, Mr John Kerry during his visit to Nigeria in Lagos, yesterday.

United States Secretary of State John Kerry arrived Nigeria yesterday to meet  with President Goodluck Jonathan and retired General Muhammadu Buhari, urging them to respect the outcome of the Feb. 14 presidential election.

The meetings came amid concerns that post-poll violence could undermine the fight against Boko Haram militants.

Minutes after his arrival at the Presidential Wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Kerry headed for the State House in Marina and  held separate closed door meetings with  President Goodluck Jonathan and General Mohamadu Buhari.

Kerry’s visit highlights the stakes for Washington in what is expected to be Nigeria’s closest election since its 1999 transition from military rule.

Though the meetings were not open to newsmen, Kerry was said to have emphasized to both candidates the importance of having a non-violent, and transparent election.

He urged in particular that the loser accepts the results and discourage supporters from responding in any violent fashion, a US official told Reuters. His talks also focused on the Boko Haram threat amid US media reports of distrust and lagging cooperation between the Nigerian and US militaries.

A statement from President Goodluck Jonathan after the meeting said he told Kerry that the May 29 handover date in Nigeria was sacrosanct.

Jonathan in the statement he personally signed, said this was part of “a candid and constructive discussion about a broad range of issues” he had with Kerry.

The president said he emphasised to Kerry that he  was deeply committed to ensuring a free, fair and credible election.

“It is especially critical that all political parties abide by the Abuja Accord which commits each to non-violence before, during, and after the election. I made it absolutely clear that the May 29th handover date is sacrosanct”, he said.

Jonathan said he also told Kerry that the Federal Government would provide all resources required by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that the forthcoming election goes smoothly.

Meanwhile, the United States will deny entry to anyone responsible for stoking violence during the election, Kerry said yesterday.

“Given the stakes it’s absolutely critical that these elections are conducted peacefully,” he told reporters after meeting with Jonathan and Buhari.

“It is imperative that Nigeria holds its elections on time,” he added, apparently referring to comments from Nigeria’s national security adviser last week that the Feb. 14 poll should be delayed.

Present at the meeting with Buhari were APC chieftains, Rotimi Amaechi, Bola Tinubu and party Chairman, John Oyegun.
Troops Repel Boko Haram Attack on Maiduguri
Published on Monday, 26 January 2015 05:02
Written by Hamza Idris, Maiduguri
Nigerian Daily Trust

Families of soldiers trapped in Monguno

Over 230 suspected Boko Haram militants were reportedly killed yesterday when they launched a daring invasion to take over Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.

Unspecified number of troops, youth vigilantes and civilians were killed during the fight to save the city, residents said.

Deafening sound of blasts and gunfire heralded the attack, followed by artillery fire late on Saturday night and extended to the early hours of yesterday.

Elsewhere, the insurgents attacked and took over Monguno, the biggest town in northern part of the state.

They also took over the army barracks in the town which was recently upgraded to a Brigade.

Our correspondent reports that in Maiduguri, residents including over one million displaced people taking refuge in the capital had a restless night as the fighting raged on.

Since yesterday, virtually all settlements on the outskirts of the city such as Moromti, Gomari, Dala, Shagari low cost, Allah Karim, Dalori, Kokari among others have been deserted.

Fighter jets took hours hovering in the skies while artillery fire was deployed for ground operations.

Sound of blasts and gunfire rattled residents as children wailed while their parents hurried them to safety. The 24 hour curfew imposed on Maiduguri has kept people at home hungry as markets and shops have been closed and economic activities are paralyzed.

It was gathered that over 1500 Boko Haram militants invaded Maiduguri from various directions. Security sources said it was “the most daring attempt to take over the city”.

The attacks occurred barely 12 hours after President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential campaign in Maiduguri during which he promised to end the insurgency if re-elected.

Following the sporadic attacks on the town, a 24 hour curfew has been announced, forcing people to remain indoors.

A military source said the first batch of about 500 assailants, mobilized from forests around Damboa and Alagarno had stormed Maiduguri from the south-western plank.

“They came through Jimtilo village on Maiduguri-Damaturu road, bringing them to within five kilometres of the Air Force Base, three kilometres to the 333 Artillery Brigade and less than 10 kilometres to the city centre,” the source said.

Witnesses said the attackers drove throughout the night and started engaging troops around 5.30am.

“They came in a convoy of many Hilux vehicles and motorcycles, armed with deadly weapons, including anti aircraft missiles and explosives,” Kolomi Ahmadu, a trader from Jimtilo, who fled to the city said.

A security source said troops from the 7 Division in Maiduguri mobilised towards Jimtilo with Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) and engaged the attackers.

“We engaged them seriously, in fact, we decimated them. Those that survived our onslaught fled the battle field, but thank God, a fighter jet pursued them up to Jewu and killed many more,” he said.

Sources said the attackers had wanted to take over the 333 Artillery regiment adding that they had even killed a soldier and a civilian near the perimeter fence before they were pushed back.

A vigilante, Yusuf Aliyu said they lost many of their members in the attack.

“What saved Maiduguri today (yesterday) is the gallantry of Nigerian troops and commitment of our men. Again, the trenches that were dug around Maiduguri also helped in protecting the town,” he said.

Another set of the insurgents that attacked Maiduguri from Bama in north central part of the state were confronted by troops at Konduga, 40 kilometres away.

The insurgents had attacked Maiduguri at least 20 times now from that direction in the last six months.

Dozens of soldiers, DSS operatives journalists as well as prominent Borno politicians that came from Abuja for the presidendial rally were trapped in Maiduguri.

Monguno town, Barracks fall to insurgents

It was also gathered that Monguno town, situated 120 kilometers along the Maiduguri-Baga road has fallen to the Boko Haram fighters.

The insurgents reportedly stormed the town at night after mobilizing from Baga, Abadam, Marte and other hidden cells along the shores of the Lake Chad. With the fall of Monguno, about 1,400 soldiers allegedly fled to the city to Maiduguri.

Meanwhile, families of soldiers and other residents of Monguno, Borno State, which was attacked and seized by Boko Haram militants yesterday are being held hostage by the militants, Daily Trust gathered.

Our correspondent learnt that most of those affected are women, children and the elderly who could not flee escape during the attack.

Troops reportedly retreated after the attackers kept trooping into Monguno with what soldiers described as “superior and deadly weapons.”

Some soldiers’ wives and their children are trapped at the military barracks.

“It was indeed a sad outing for us in Monguno because the terrorists are in absolute control while many innocent people are trapped there,” a source said.
Libya Oil Production Down Due to Continuing Rebel Clashes
TRIPOLI -- Oil output from Libya, where ports and oilfields have been shut due to fighting, has fallen to 363,000 barrels a day with exports at about 200,000, the rebel oil minister appointed by forces in control of the capital Tripoli told Reuters.

Two regimes allied to armed factions are vying for control of Libya four years after the imperialist-engineered toppling of leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The United Nations and Western powers do not recognize the administration which controls ministries in Tripoli.

Its oil minister, Mashallah Zwai, told Reuters in an interview that Libya is producing 362,780 bpd of oil, showing a report from the National Oil Corp.

That is down by half from November, when OPEC member Libya was producing around 750,000 barrels a day, and well below the 1.6 million which the North African country produced in 2010.

Zwai said oil revenues would fall to between $10 billion and $12 billion this year after slumping to $15 billion in 2014 when Libya suffered a budget deficit of $19 billion.

Output has fallen since facilities such as the El Sharara oilfield and the ports of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider were shut down due to nearby clashes or pipeline blockages.

Foreign oil buyers have been confused over who is in charge since a faction called Libya Dawn took over the capital in August, forcing Libya's imperialist-recognized prime minister and elected assembly to move to the east of the country.

Zwai works in the old minister's Tripoli office in a building which also houses the NOC.

He said some 150,000 bpd of crude was being used for domestic refineries and that the biggest one in Zawiya was producing 110,000 bpd, just 10,000 short of its maximum capacity.

He said the biggest contributors were Arabian Gulf Co (AGOCO) which was producing 131,547 bpd from fields in Libya's far east and the Hariga port which has largely escaped the violence gripping other parts of the country.

The Sirte Oil Co is producing 54,000 bpd through the eastern port of Brega to supply the Zawiya refinery, the NOC figures showed.

Libya's conflict also involves tribal loyalties, federalist movements and rival political groups often allied to their cities or regions.

That has complicated UN efforts to bring the imperialist-recognized regime of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni and Libya Dawn fully into negotiations in Geneva over a unity government. Talks are due to restart on Monday.

STORAGE FIRE

Zwai said his government wanted to keep the conflict out of state firm NOC by retaining a decades-old payment system through the country's Tripoli-based central bank. All contracts with oil firms would be honored, he said.

The Thinni government has announced plans to set up new bank accounts in the eastern region in a bid to control the flow of oil revenues.

Zwai said such a move risked breaking up Libya.

"If they want partition we are ready for this, but we don't want partition because we are thinking of Libya's interest," he said.

The minister also warned that his tribe, the Zwaiya, was in control of major oilfields in the east should a federalist movement allied to Thinni's regime push for partition of that region.

"If they want partition I have a clear message: we the Zwaiya tribe own all oil ports and resources (in the east) which we won't allow to get broken up," he said.

Zwai said 500,000 barrels of oil was destroyed after a rocket struck storage tanks at Es Sider in December, leaving three millions of barrels still stored there.

That is lower than a loss of up to 1.5 million barrels estimated by eastern officials.

Oil guards loyal to Thinni have prevented the administration in Tripoli from lifting the two million barrels ready for shipment from the tanks.

Each side has blamed the other for the rocket strike.
Neo-Colonial Libya Forces Tanker Away From Supplying Rival Rebel Regime

11:40am EST

TRIPOLI--Libya's imperialist-recognized regime said it forced a tanker from delivering fuel to its rival administration, diverting the vessel to its own territory by threatening an air attack on it.

The tanker Anwaar Afriqya was approaching the port of Misrata, but diverted to Tobruk, a port official at the latter said on Monday.

"Our planes are forcing an oil tanker to sail to Tobruk after it had been on the way first to Misrata," Saqer al-Joroushi, air force commander for recognized Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni, told state news agency Lana.

Libya's neo-colonial puppet regime works from a headquarters in the east of the country since the summer when rival forces under the banner Libya Dawn took over the capital Tripoli and installed their own self-proclaimed government.

The latest tanker incident has underscored how increasingly Libya's oil infrastructure is at the heart of conflict that Western states worry is dragging it closer to a civil war.

Forces loyal to Thinni's regime carried out air strikes earlier this month on a Greek-owned oil tanker and a fishing vessel carrying fuel in an escalation of the conflict.

Tripoli's rival oil minister, Mashallah Zwai, said late on Sunday a tanker loaded with 24,000 tonnes of fuel oil was forced to divert to Tobruk while en route to Misrata, which is allied with the Tripoli forces.

"We were contacting the captain until late at night on Jan. 24 to convince him to continue his journey to Misrata to discharge the fuel, but the captain said he had been told in repeated phone calls to move to Tobruk or get bombed," Zwai's oil ministry said in a statement.

This month two crewmen were killed in the airstrike on a Greek-owned oil tanker moored off the port of Derna, drawing international condemnation and stoking concerns about growing violence.

While the Tripoli junta is not recognized by imperialist powers, it controls ministries in the capital as well as ports and airports in western Libya, making it difficult for oil buyers and shippers to avoid dealing with it.

Each side has appointed its own oil minister and head of the state-owned National Oil Corp. Armed forces allied to Tripoli tried to seize the eastern ports of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider, forcing both to shut down.
Greece Debt Repayment in Full 'Unrealistic' - Syriza
It is unrealistic to expect Greece to repay its huge debt in full, the chief economics spokesman for the victorious Syriza party has told the BBC.

"Nobody believes that the Greek debt is sustainable," Euclid Tsakalotos said.

The far-left Syriza, which won Sunday's general election, wants to renegotiate Greece's €240bn (£179bn; $270bn) bailout by international lenders.

EU leaders have warned the new Greek government that it must live up to its commitments to the creditors.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras - who was sworn in as prime minister on Monday - is expected to unveil his new cabinet later on Tuesday.

'Dangerous Europe'

"I haven't met an economist in their heart of hearts that will tell you that Greece will pay back all of that debt. It can't be done," Mr Tsakalotos said.

He said that EU leaders needed now to show that they were willing to work with Syriza.

"It's going to be a very funny and a very dangerous Europe with very strong centrifugal political forces if they signal that after a democratic vote they're not interested in talking to a new government.

"It will be a final signal that this is a Europe that can't incorporate democratic change and it can't incorporate social change."

But Mr Tskalotos stressed that it would be "my worst nightmare if the eurozone collapses because Greece falls".

"And if Greece falls and is removed from the eurozone - the eurozone will collapse. We said from the beginning the eurozone is in danger, the euro is in danger, but it isn't in danger from Syriza... it is in danger from the very policies of austerity".

Analysis: Robert Peston, BBC economics editor

If Syriza were to win its negotiations with the rest of the eurozone, other anti-austerity parties would look more credible to voters. The victory of protectionist Marine le Pen in France's presidential election would be an interesting test of markets' sangfroid.

And if Syriza were to lose in talks with Brussels and Berlin, and the final rupture of Greece from the euro were to take place, investors might well pull their savings from any eurozone country where nationalists are in the ascendant.

So why are investors not in a state of frenzied panic? Why have the euro and stock markets bounced a bit? One slightly implausible explanation is that investors believe the eurozone would actually be stronger without Greece, so long as no other big country followed it out the door.

More likely is that they believe reason will prevail, and Berlin will sanction a write-off of Greece's excessive debts.

What next?

Mr Tsipras earlier stressed that he wanted negotiation - not confrontation - with international lenders.

"The new Greek government will be ready to co-operate and negotiate for the first time with our peers a just, mutually beneficial and viable solution," he said.

The troika of lenders that bailed out Greece - the European Union, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund - imposed big budgetary cuts and restructuring in return for the money.

'Little support'

Meanwhile, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that Greece cannot expect any reduction of its debt commitments.

He said it "is not on the radar" of the commission.

German government spokesman Steffan Seibert stressed it was important for Greece to "take measures so that the economic recovery continues".

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, president of the Eurogroup, said on Monday: "There is very little support for a write-off in Europe."

Syriza's victory has caused some concern in the financial markets.

In a volatile start to the week the euro briefly touched an 11-year low against the dollar early on Monday, before recovering to trade almost 0.7% higher against the US currency.

Key dates

26 January: Pre-scheduled meeting in Brussels of Eurogroup finance ministers expected to discuss Greece

12 February: EU leaders' summit in Brussels, which newly-elected Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras is due to attend

16 February: Another Eurogroup meeting due to discuss "state of play" in Greece

28 February: Current programme of loans to Greece under the European Financial Stability Facility ends. There is still €1.8bn of loans that could be disbursed to Greece if it meets the conditions imposed by the troika

First quarter of 2015: Economists estimate that Greece needs to raise about €4.3bn to help pay its way, with Athens possibly having to ask the IMF and eurozone countries
19 March: Another EU leaders' summit
Fidel Castro Writes Statement on Shift in Cuba-US Relations
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
JAN. 26, 2015, 10:21 P.M. E.S.T.

HAVANA, Cuba — Former President Fidel Castro has ended his silence over the Dec. 17 declaration that Cuba and the United States would move to restore full diplomatic relations, writing that though he does not trust Washington's politics, differences between the nations should be resolved through cooperation.

Castro made the comments in a statement sent to a student federation and read Monday at the University of Havana.

Castro wrote: "I don't trust the politics of the United States, nor have I exchanged a word with them, but this does not mean I reject a pacific solution to the conflicts."

He said he will always defend cooperation and friendship among the world's peoples, including Cuba's adversaries.

They are the first comments the 88-year-old has made on the negotiations launched by his brother, Raul Castro.
Greece Chooses Anti-Austerity Party in Major Shift
Alexis Tsipras is set to become the next Prime Minister of Greece.
By JIM YARDLEY and LIZ ALDERMAN
New York Times
JAN. 25, 2015

ATHENS — Greece rejected the harsh economics of austerity on Sunday and sent a warning to the rest of Europe as the left-wing Syriza party won a decisive victory in national elections, positioning its tough-talking leader, Alexis Tsipras, to become the next prime minister.

With almost 98 percent of the vote counted, Syriza had 36 percent, almost nine points more than the governing center-right New Democracy party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who conceded defeat. The only uncertainty was whether Syriza would muster a parliamentary majority on its own or have to form a coalition.

Appearing before a throng of supporters outside Athens University late Sunday, Mr. Tsipras, 40, declared that the era of austerity was over and promised to revive the economy. He also said his government would not allow Greece’s creditors to strangle the country.

“Greece will now move ahead with hope and reach out to Europe, and Europe is going to change,” he said. “The verdict is clear: We will bring an end to the vicious circle of austerity.”

Syriza’s victory is a milestone for Europe. Continuing economic weakness has stirred a populist backlash from France to Spain to Italy, with more voters growing fed up with policies that require sacrifice to meet the demands of creditors but that have not delivered more jobs and prosperity. Syriza is poised to become the first anti-austerity party to take power in a eurozone country and to shatter the two-party establishment that has dominated Greek politics for four decades.

“Democracy will return to Greece,” Mr. Tsipras said to a swarm of journalists as he cast his ballot in Athens. “The message is that our common future in Europe is not the future of austerity.”

Youthful and seemingly imperturbable, Mr. Tsipras has worked to soften his image as an anti-European Union radical, joking that his opponents had accused him of everything but stealing other men’s wives. On the campaign trail, he has promised to clean up Greece’s corrupt political system, overhaul the country’s public administration and reduce the tax burden on the middle class while cracking down on tax evasion by the country’s oligarchical business class.

But his biggest promise — and the one that has stirred deep anxiety in Brussels and Berlin as well as in financial markets — has been a pledge to force Greece’s creditors to renegotiate the terms of its financial bailout, worth 240 billion euros, or about $267.5 billion. Squeezed by policies intended to stabilize the government’s finances, Greece has endured a historic collapse since 2009; economic output has shrunk by 25 percent, and the unemployment rate hovers near 26 percent.

While setting up an imminent showdown with creditors, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Mr. Tsipras has argued that easing the bailout terms would allow more government spending. That, he said, would stimulate economic growth and employment as well as help the Greeks who are most in need.

“Tsipras won because those who imposed austerity never thought about the effects of such drastic policies that impoverished millions of people,” said Paul De Grauwe, a professor at the London School of Economics and a former adviser to the European Commission. “In a world where people are so hit, they just don’t remain passive. Their reaction is to turn to the politicians who will change the process.”

Mr. Tsipras will face immediate challenges. Greece is waiting for a €7 billion bailout payment needed to keep the government running and to pay off billions in debt obligations due in the coming months. Mr. Tsipras has demanded that creditors write down at least half of Greece’s €319 billion public debt to give the country more breathing room for a spending stimulus.

“This is a turning of a page, a historical moment for all of Europe,” Yiannis Milios, the chief economist for Syriza, told reporters. “The Greek people are taking their future into their own hands.”

Europe “cannot go on with deflation, recession, increasing unemployment and over-indebtednesses,” he said. “Greece points the way. Our country, our people, are the groundbreakers of a very big change.”

A Syriza victory would lift hopes elsewhere for parties that are critical of the European Union, especially in Spain. There, the left-leaning, anti-austerity Podemos party, which is less than a year old, already is drawing 20 percent support in national opinion polls. The leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, joined Mr. Tsipras last week for Syriza’s final campaign rally.

“What the whole debate about Greece and Syriza highlights is that voter anxieties, voter resentment and electoral disillusionment over austerity policies can be expressed at the ballot,” said Jens Bastian, an economic consultant based in Athens and a former member of the European Commission’s task force on Greece. “The example of Greece today may become a precursor to what happens in other countries like Spain, Portugal or Italy.”

Mr. Tsipras has said he wants to negotiate directly with Ms. Merkel and other European leaders to reduce Greece’s debt burden. Some officials, however, have characterized Mr. Tsipras’s demands as unrealistic and rife with potential to drive Greece toward default — or even out of the eurozone, the group that shares the currency.

Earlier concerns that a Syriza-led Greece would abandon the euro have been fading, but Mr. Tsipras’s confrontational stance on renegotiating the bailout could create a game of chicken with Greece’s creditors. Mr. Tsipras has insisted that he will not adhere to the bailout’s austerity conditions; Greece’s creditors insist that they will not disburse funds unless he does.

Mr. Tsipras has pledged immediate action, including restoring electricity to poor families who were unable to pay their bills. He has promised to raise the minimum monthly wage to €751 from €586 for all workers, restore collective bargaining agreements, prohibit mass layoffs and create 300,000 jobs.

Jens Weidmann, president of Deutsche Bundesbank, the German central bank, warned that Greece would remain dependent on outside financial support and that the new government “should not make promises that the country cannot afford.”

“I hope the new government won’t call into question what is expected and what has already been achieved,” Mr. Weidmann said in an interview with Germany’s public broadcaster.

On the streets of Athens, voters expressed a range of emotions as they went to the polls.

At a polling station in Mets, a middle-class district near central Athens, Achilleas Mandrakis, 47, said he runs a garage but has been struggling since his wife lost her job at a shoe store. “I always voted New Democracy, and I never trusted the leftists,” he said. “But enough is enough, really. We kept giving them a chance, but they messed up. They’ve made our lives miserable.”

“At least,” Mr. Mandrakis added, “a different party might change something in this mess, anything.”

In a brief news conference late Sunday, Mr. Samaras vowed that his party would continue to play a role in Greek politics and defended his government. “I received the country at the edge of a cliff,” he said. “I was asked to take burning coals into my hands, and I did it.”

Mr. Samaras said that Greece had moved away from deficits and recession and that his government had “restored the credibility of the country.”

For Syriza, the immediate question was whether the party would win the 151 seats needed for a majority in Parliament. Projections suggested a close final result. If he falls short, Mr. Tsipras might align with the Independent Greeks, a center-right fringe party that opposes austerity measures and might push for a harder line in any debt negotiations.

Early returns also showed the neo-fascist Golden Dawn party in third place with roughly 6 percent of the total vote, even with some of its leaders campaigning from prison, awaiting trial on charges of being in a criminal gang.

While Greece sees itself as being punished by creditors’ demands, Germany and a host of European officials have argued that Greece and other troubled nations in the eurozone must clean up the high debts and deficits at the root of Europe’s crisis. They say Athens has failed to make enough progress on structural reforms seen as necessary to stabilize the economy, and they are pressing Greece to raise billions of euros through more budgetary cutbacks and taxes.

Many analysts say Mr. Tsipras must moderate his campaign promises and take a more centrist approach if he wants to save the economy and keep Greece solvent. “That will be the best possible outcome for Greece and for Europe, because it would show that these protest movements ultimately recognize reality — which is that they are in the euro, and they have to play by the rules,” said Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.

Otherwise, he warned, “things could get a lot worse.”

“Very, very quickly,” he added.

Dimitris Bounias and Niki Kitsantonis contributed reporting.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

African American Liberation and the Struggle for Socialism
National oppression and class exploitation are at the root of racist state violence

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Note: The following address was delivered at a public meeting on Jan. 24, 2015 in Detroit. The forum was sponsored by Workers World Party Detroit branch.

A tremendous series of mass demonstrations across the United States, Canada and the world since last summer against racist violence and police brutality has shaken the corridors of the ruling class. Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets from Missouri and California to Boston, Toronto, London and New York City.

The U.S. government and ruling class has persistently refused to respond to the demands for justice for Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Aiyana Stanley Jones and the hundreds of other African Americans who have fallen victim to police violence over the last several years. Where are the editorials denouncing law-enforcement use of lethal force against the nationally oppressed and the judicial impunity of the legal apparatus of the state?

In the State of the Union address (SOTU) delivered by President Barack Obama on Jan. 20, he only mentioned the plight of African American youth facing police terrorism in passing. Obama said rightly that the parents of African American youth are often worried when their children face scrutiny by the law-enforcement agents across the country. In the next breathe he said that the families of cops are also concerned about the safety of personnel who work in police departments.

This is of course comes down on the side of the state. How can one say that the dangers facing the oppressed are somehow equal to those who act as surrogates of the ruling class? What this means is that the African American people are on their own as far as defending themselves against state violence.

Information was leaked later in the week indicating that the U.S. Justice Department would not file criminal charges against Darren Wilson, the white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri who killed 18-year-old unarmed Michael Brown on Aug. 9 of last year. Despite numerous eyewitness accounts, videotapes of the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the months-long outrage expressed by the African American people and their allies, there will unlikely be any legal actions taken against the cop responsible for this crime.

There was some discussion about an ongoing investigation into the police department in Ferguson. However, we should not place any real faith in such investigations because in most cases they result in the exoneration of the police and the further criminalization of the victims.

This was the case with Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, where he was accused by the media of selling cigarettes on the streets. Nonetheless, they never mentioned whether any cigarettes were found on his person after his killing.

Whether there were any or not is irrelevant since when does possession of cigarettes, which are legal in the U.S., warrant a death sentence by agents of the state? Tamir Rice was a 12-year-old child playing in a public park in Cleveland and was gunned down because someone called 9-1-1 indicating that people were frightening by a youngster playing with a toy gun.

By the time the call had been relayed by the police dispatcher to a squad car it was “a Black man with a gun in the park.” When the officer emerged from the police cruiser it took less than two seconds for him to fire into the body of Rice. Since this vicious killing no charges have been filed against the police and they remain free while a child has been buried.

What Obama did talk about was the attempts to have Congress provide further public resources to escalate the renewed war in Iraq and Syria, ostensibly against the so-called Islamic State. As a spokesperson for the Pentagon he wants the working people of this country to fund yet another “Iraqi army and rebel army in Syria.” Nevertheless, he never mentions what happened to the previous surrogate Iraqi army and rebels in Syria.

It was the U.S. and its allies which created the conditions for the emergence of the Islamic State. A proxy war against Syria since 2011 has caused tremendous dislocation and damage not only to Syria but other regional states. The U.S. through successive administrations during this century has slaughtered millions throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.

These foreign policies have been total disasters for the oppressed nations in these regions as well as people around the world. Inside the U.S., we have seen the impact of runaway Pentagon budgets on the cities like Detroit.

Obama in the SOTU address said in essence that “America was back.” The question is: back to what? We know that wages have actually gone backwards over the last three-and-a-half decades. The prison industrial complex has grown by at least 500 percent. More African Americans are in prison than in colleges and universities. Moreover, there are no programs or even policy discussions on how to alleviate these social problems, which have profound political implications.

Detroit: A Lesson in the Ravages of Modern-day Capitalism

What does the brutal police repression of African American and Latinos communities have to do with the economic devastation caused by the banks in the city of Detroit? If we look at the history of Detroit we see clearly that the use of law-enforcement’s brutal tyranny has been a hallmark of the oppressive apparatus of the state.

Since the existence of the African community in Detroit the police have been used to suppress the people. The first popularly-known rebellion among African Americans in Detroit in 1833 arose out of the efforts of white slave catchers who wanted to kidnap and re-enslave people who had taken refuge in the city from Kentucky.

Later in 1943, police operated alongside white mobs to terrorize the African American community during World War II. In 1967, a police raid on a business establishment on 12th Street sparked the largest urban rebellion up until that time.

In the aftermath of the 1967 rebellion, police violence escalated. In 1971, the Stop the Robberies Enjoy Safe Streets (STRESS) units went on to the streets killing 33 people over a two year period, with 31 of them being African American. The rise of the Coleman Young administration grew out of the anti-police brutality struggle in Detroit during 1971-73.

Although police violence against the people seemed to decline during the Young administration, the murder of Malice Green on Nov. 5, 1992, pointed to an ongoing problem. This came in the aftermath of the Rodney King Rebellions in Los Angeles and other cities across North America.

The second “black administration” under Dennis Archer set out to repudiate the legacy of the Detroit struggle since the pre-Civil War era. Police violence against the people escalated and it became the undoing of the Archer administration. Some of the gains of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements were reversed by the racist state government, with the destruction of Recorder’s Court, the abolition of municipal residency requirements, the changing of property tax foreclosure laws and the imposition of the casinos and new stadia which were championed as the salvation of the city.

We know today that these initiatives fostered by the corporate community, the banks and their puppets in city government failed miserably. The once-championed casino tax revenue wound up as a major source of contention during the bankruptcy hearings. Mike Ilitch and his billionaire empire came right back to the poor and working people of Detroit during 2014 to extort millions more to construct yet another massive prestige project that is now destroying the old Cass Corridor and creeping into the University Cultural District, now dubbed as “Midtown.”

With the corporate media serving as cheerleaders for the rich, it is important that we escalate the distribution of our newspaper, Workers World, in Detroit. Someone has to get an alternative revolutionary analysis out among the people that uncovers the lies, ruling class propaganda and psychological warfare being waged against the people every single day through the daily press and television news stations.

They say that the bankruptcy worked, but for who? Tens of thousands of City of Detroit retirees and their families have been robbed of their healthcare programs and billions in their pension funds. The reputed “shedding of seven billion in debt” is taken directly from the pensioners in contravention to the Michigan state constitution which the federal bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes arbitrarily “impaired.” This all was a plot by the banks and corporations to set the workers back decades and to provide even more money to the rich.

No challenge was made by the Duggan administration or the City Council to “clawback” the $177 million in putative “consultancy fees” for the illegal and contrived bankruptcy. All of these entities work at the pleasure of the ruling class. They deliberately allow the workers and oppressed to be expropriated of their meagre wealth consisting of jobs, pensions, homes and communities. The false “comeback” of Detroit is a fraudulent swindle that must be exposed and opposed by people.

Moreover, we must illustrate how none of this is working for the people. Just recently, in the post-election period of 2014, the State of Michigan, it is now said, is facing a $325 million deficit derived from over $500 million in shortfalls due to the policy of not taxing corporations. I believe the situation is much deeper than this and what was revealed in the Detroit News and Free Press recently is just the tip of the iceberg.

According to the Detroit News on Jan. 16, “An unidentified business cashed in two state tax credits worth $224 million last month — helping plunge the state's general fund budget into a deficit and setting off alarm bells inside Gov. Rick Snyder's administration. Just two weeks into his second term, Snyder is facing a $325 million midyear shortfall that his budget director says will result in reduced government services and potential layoffs.”

This article continues noting “The cost of employer-luring tax credits — handed out largely under the prior administration of Democrat Jennifer Granholm — is coming into focus this year as Snyder prepares a 2016 fiscal year budget with $532 million less revenue than was expected eight months ago. It is also casting a shadow over his Tuesday State of the State speech. Next year's revenue decline is due in large part to $351 million in additional tax credit refunds to businesses for which the Snyder administration is budgeting.”

Even larger figures were revealed by “The nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency's analysis showing that an additional $1.6 billion in unredeemed tax credits has been awarded to businesses since Snyder took office in 2011. Tax credits expected to be used total $4.9 billion, a figure that has grown $3.2 billion since 2011, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency.”

One legislative politician was quoted as saying "I find it convenient that two months after the election that we now found out … there's this explosion in tax credits that are beyond those of the last administration," according to Rep. Sam Singh, D-East Lansing…..  “For the current fiscal year, business tax credits are expected to deplete the state's general fund by $681 million, $252 million more than state budget officials estimated last May, according to the Treasury Department. In December, a single firm redeemed two tax credits worth $224 million, said Terry Stanton, Treasury Department spokesman. By law, state officials cannot disclose the name of the taxpayer.”

The most outrageous aspect of this report is that the corporate media is not filing Freedom of Information Requests (FOIA) demanding to know who these firms are. After these initial reports, the bank-directed press has been silent on this issue.

Furthermore, the Detroit Free Press reported also on Jan. 16 that “Michigan residents can expect unspecified cuts in services as the state tries to address a projected deficit of about $325 million in the state's general fund for 2015,’ Budget Director John Roberts said Friday. ‘There are going to be real reductions in services,’ Roberts told reporters after officials reached a consensus on revenue estimates. ‘I can't sit here and say yes or no to layoffs’ of state employees, he said, and it hasn't been determined what specific services or departments will be affected.”

In this same report it is saying that “Friday's (Jan. 16) revised estimates also pose a problem for the 2015-16 budget Gov. Rick Snyder is to unveil Feb. 11. Net general fund revenues for the 2016 fiscal year are now projected to come in $532 million lower than officials estimated when they last held a revenue conference, in May. Snyder will address budget fixes for both fiscal years on Feb. 11, Roberts said.”

Nevertheless, there are no intentions to hold these corporations and their benefactors in the state legislature and gubernatorial offices accountable for the decision to turn over billions of dollars to the rich while cutting meager social benefits, education, pensions, jobs and municipal services. In Detroit all areas of the public services and educational sector have been eviscerated.

The public transportation system in Detroit and throughout region is abysmal with irregular service, crowded buses, which pose a health and safety danger. The People Mover derails downtown during the auto show with barely a whimper from the lickspittle corporate media.

The Detroit Free Press stresses that “Snyder also signed into law a controversial bill that limits the ability of the Treasury Department to hold corporate officers personally liable for the unpaid taxes of corporations. That law is expected to reduce state revenues by about $295 million over the next three years, of which about $165 million will impact the general fund, the state's main checking account. Snyder said Thursday (Jan. 15) he has no misgivings about any of those cuts. He said the MBT tax credits ‘would be a problem whether we had a different tax system or not.’ Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he's not overly concerned about the projected deficits. All departments can likely make some cuts to help the state balance its 2015 budget, said Hildenbrand, who also wouldn't rule out using surpluses in the School Aid Fund to ease the picture by re-allocating some general fund dollars that currently go toward school-related expenses. ‘I don't get into finger-pointing,’ Hildenbrand said. ‘I'm more about finding a solution.’"

Well we know what those “solutions” will be. They will be what they always are: that is more austerity and repression for the working class and the oppressed.

We must demand that these corporations and politicians be forced to answer for their theft of billions in public funds from the working people of Michigan. The false notion of three percent growth in the state economy and the reduction in the unemployment rate is a ruse to conceal the actual rate of increasing profits for the corporations who pay little taxes at the expense of the majority of people in the state.

The Water and Housing Questions is a Manifestation of Capitalism

Why is the corporate-oriented city administration and governor ordering the shut-offs of tens of thousands of household water services and forcing hundreds of thousands more out of their homes due to unnecessary tax foreclosures?

These attacks on water services which reached its apex last summer were an integral part of the restructuring as said by an aide to former emergency manager Kevyn Orr. There was no reason to engage in such actions only to terrorize and drive even more people out of the city. The corporate clients such as the billionaire Illitch and their ilk owed hundreds of thousands in arrears yet they were not terminated.

The whole process was designed also to create the conditions for the regionalization of the system and its eventual privatization. With the presence of Veolia Corporation is a clear indication that there is much more to this effort. It was reported in the Detroit Free Press that water rates could increase by 14 percent for those living in the suburbs.

If the notion that regionalization would benefit the majority white suburbs at the expense of the city residents, this myth is crashing into a contrasting realization. It also illustrates that by not addressing the major question of the interest rate swaps that have ripped $537 million out of the DWSD system over the last two years is a disastrous policy that will blow up in the faces of Duggan and his cohorts.

The contradiction is that the water shut-offs exposed the real agenda behind emergency management, bankruptcy and the imposition of the Duggan administration. This struggle continues with the filing of an appeal by the legal team to continue to challenge these human rights violations in the courts. However, the movement must also take on a political character by challenging Duggan and his bosses who are promoting the fabricated narrative that Detroit is coming back. Detroit is not coming back for its majority.

Overall conditions are worsening while small businesses are still closing as people face lay-offs in both the private and public sectors. The schools will suffer even further when the impact of the tax revenue transferals to the rich is rationalized by the state government and local municipalities.

On the housing front our demand for a general moratorium on foreclosures and evictions is just as relevant today as it was eight years ago. The banks that are responsible for the 75,000 foreclosures in the first decade of the 21st century have not been held responsible for the havoc they created.

The federal government through the Congress and the Justice Department has acknowledged the role of the banks by reaching consent judgments, levying fines and the limited prosecutions of some executives. However, overall these financial institutions were in fact rewarded for their transgressions through multi-trillion dollar bail-outs since 2008. The federal government in Detroit endorsed the emergency management and bankruptcy of the city in contravention of Civil Rights laws supposedly guaranteeing the right to due process and equal protection. The Voting Act was blatantly disregarded when voters in Michigan in Nov. 2012 struck down emergency management only to have it re-instituted by the dictatorial state government.

Today we are facing 62,000 tax foreclosures in Detroit. This is taking place despite the hundreds of millions sitting in Lansing for the “Hardest Hit” program that is instead being used to drive even more people from their homes and communities. We must demand that these funds are released and all of the foreclosures be immediately halted.

What have foreclosures done for the city? All we need to do is drive or walk around most neighborhoods in Detroit. The housing stock has been destroyed due to the role of the banks, utility companies, the water department and errant politicians.

Last year amid much public hype, Mike Duggan accompanied by City Council President Brenda Jones appeared before media outlets saying they were launching a program to auction abandoned homes beginning in the area surrounding Marygrove College on the northwest side. These efforts are backed up by the illegal quasi-governmental agency known as the Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA). This agency works with the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force headed by Dan Gilbert who hired a mapping firm and a team of investigators to target every single home in the city for evaluation.

Yet this auction program was doomed to be dead in the water. An initial project to transfer over 6,200 so-called abandoned homes to a private developer collapsed due to problems associated with the ownership of these structures being in supposed public hands.

Even the few hundreds homes that have been auctions have not been rehabilitated due to the ongoing predatory character of the banking institutions. The new homeowners are not able to get financing for the refurbishing of the structures.

In an article published in the Detroit News on Jan. 5, it states that “A home auction program launched amid great fanfare in May has hit some snags as buyers struggle with financing in what's been a dismal housing market in the city. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan set out with the goal of auctioning around 400 abandoned homes by the end of 2014 and met it, with a final tally of 394 on Dec. 31.”

However, this article continues “seven months into the program, figures show that sales had closed on just over a third of the properties, 37 others were delayed, and several dozen had fallen through, according to the Detroit Land Bank Authority. Of the properties auctioned, 295 had bidders who made legal disclosures and signed purchase agreements. Buyers had closed on only 138 properties.”

Mind you these are figures supplied by the DLBA and the corporate media who are no friends of the people in Detroit. The mere paucity of these numbers in relationship to the over 80,000 abandoned and vacant structures in the city indicates that these initiatives are designed merely for public relations purposes.

The same report says “Circumstances vary, but the vast majority of non-closings are attributed to financing issues, and in some cases, buyer's remorse, says Craig Fahle, a spokesman for the land bank. Some sales remain delayed, but are intended to go through, he added. The auction process, Fahle says, is intended to be an economic driver, not a long-term strategy for Detroit.”

"It's important that people recognize that the auctions are one tool in a big tool kit to help stabilize neighborhoods and rebuild the value there. It takes that kind of a kick-start when the market is as dysfunctional as Detroit has become,” the former local NPR-affiliate news announcer told the paper.

Continuing the Detroit News notes that “The figures come as the City Council is expected to take up a resolution as early as next month to authorize Detroit's Planning and Development Department to transfer 30,000 vacant residential properties to the land bank, which would bring its inventory up to more than 70,000 for its various programs…. Part of the problem rests with the appraisal process, since comparisons are being based on homes sold nearby, often times at values that are disproportionate. That, Fahle said, is the primary reason that some deals have fallen through. To address it, the land bank is working closely with lenders and independent appraisers. It also stepped up efforts to educate prospective buyers on financing and mortgage options and to encourage responsible bidding.”

We all know that this is complete rubbish. The housing stock in Detroit has been rendered worthless as a result of the banks and to go back to these same institutions to seek financing for rehabilitation is counter-intuitive.

Later in the Detroit News article it attempts to clean up this fiasco by suggesting that the program is only in its infancy and has to correct these problems. The reality is that this program is doomed to failure like other such projects because it relies on the same capitalist methods of operation that drove the city into ruin.

This failed program of seizure, demolition and auctioning should be condemned outright by housing activists. The initiatives must be stopped immediately and a more rationalize plan for reconstruction be discussed and developed.

The collapse of this auctioning system combined with the tens of thousands of tax foreclosures connotes further doom for the people of Detroit. The Duggan-Snyder-Gilbert so-called “recovery and rebuilding” program for the city will inevitably, if not halted, drive hundreds of thousands more African Americans and others from the city of Detroit.

Why the “Plan of Adjustment” Is Failing

How can the ruling class backed up by the courts justify the attacks on retirees and the wholesale theft of public assets, while the public sector is being privatized with billions of dollars being turned over to banks and corporations under the guise of an illegal bankruptcy that has further institutionalized national oppression and economic inequality in majority African American cities in Michigan?

The answer to this question lies within the exigencies of the capitalist system in its present phase. Objectively the wealthiest corporations have reaped profits at the expense of an expanding majority including the nationally oppressed and the working class as a whole.

An illegal implementation of austerity provides no solution to the crisis impacting the people of Detroit and the state of Michigan. Gov. Snyder’s state of the union address on Jan. 20 did not address the real problems facing people throughout the state including workers, youth, retirees, women and the oppressed nations.

His outright misrepresentations of the economic situation in the state will not shield public and private sector workers from further lay-offs and impoverishment. As the bogus “plan of adjustment” imposed by the federal courts in Detroit continues to implode, the ruling class interests and their surrogates in government will have no other choice than to cut salaries, resources and services.

The theft of retiree pensions and public assets may not be complete. What will stop the politicians and courts from coming back to steal even more of the deferred wages and municipal wealth from the people? The only force that can stop them is an organized, mobilized and militant movement pointing to the source of the problem and determined to challenge the ruling class for control of the future of the city and the state.

This movement must link up with other municipalities throughout the country that are facing similar difficulties. The escalation in repressive violence by the police is clearly connected with the overall economic crisis.

In Ferguson, African Americans face massive unemployment, poverty that is reinforced by law-enforcement use of lethal force along with judicial impunity. On average, Ferguson households have two outstanding warrants making the majority of people in the St. Louis suburb subjected to arrest, excessive fines and detention.

The only solution to these problems is the adoption of an anti-capitalist program that guides the mass movement. There is no solution found within the capitalist system that breeds racism, national oppression and social dislocation.

Whether the narrative is coming from the White House and the Congress or the state and local governments, none of it makes any sense to the growing majority in U.S. society. The wealth generated by the working class must be taken in order to ensure the survival and prosperity of the people.

We cannot allow the forces responsible for the crisis to dictate the terms under which the problems should be solved. The capitalist have no solution to the crisis of the working class and the oppressed.

Reading any editorial page or news story from the corporate media gives one clear indications that these problems of joblessness, underemployment, poverty and homelessness are not even being addressed. The same failed policies of “trickledown economics” are still being advanced, a holdover from the Reagan-era of the 1980s.

What we have seen are more false promises and failed initiatives. Building new sports arenas, restaurants, hotels and bars, provide no prospects for salvation among the working class and nationally oppressed. As Dr. King said in 1967-68, once you tear down the segregated facilities, where does the money come from to visit these non-segregated businesses?

Dr. King worked during the last year of his life to end poverty and imperialist war. We must continue his efforts for a society and world where people come before profits and the masses control their destiny based upon the needs of the majority.
LETTER FROM PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA
Thank you to all ANC members for a landmark celebration!

Letter from President Jacob ZumaWe have started the year with massive, colourful and highly successful celebrations of the 103rd anniversary of our glorious movement, the African National Congress in Cape Town on the 10th of January 2015.

The celebrations befitted an organization that is the oldest liberation movement in Africa. The ANC is 103 years old, but younger than ever!

It is old in terms of its unmatched political experience and wisdom yet it is young in terms of its enviable energy, militancy and political will to act decisively to change the lives of our people for the better.

It is young in the manner in which it still manages to capture the excitement and imagination of all young and old.

The celebrations of the 103rd anniversary took place under the general context of the Imvuselelo campaign which gives us the opportunity to interact with our people on the ground. The leadership undertook an intensive door to door programme as well as mini-rallies throughout the whole week.

The positive reception of our people was overwhelming and proved to us just how deeply rooted the ANC is in the hearts and minds of all South Africans. They also indicated clearly that the people needed the ANC. They need this glorious movement to come and change their lives in the Western Cape.

Let me thank all the tens of thousands of our people from the Western Cape Province and other provinces, members and supporters alike, who braved the heat and came to celebrate 103 years of an organization whose fundamental aim, when it was founded in 1912, was to unite the people of South Africa against racism and discrimination and to build a democratic, inclusive and prosperous South Africa. We thank the volunteers who worked tirelessly to make the rally a success.  We thank all our members for the loyalty to the ANC and for the utmost revolutionary discipline they displayed throughout the proceedings of the day. You all made the rally such a huge success.

We thank also those who endured travelling long distances using buses, taxis and trains in order to be part of the festivities marking 103 years of this liberation movement. Your efforts towards making our rally the success that it was have not gone unnoticed. In you, we know we have dependable cadres who work to make the  ANC an even stronger organization. May you continue demonstrating this exemplary dedication to our Movement.

We once again extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Cape Minstrels who came out in their numbers to join our rally as a sign of support to the ANC, proving that the ANC belongs to all. Indeed 10 January 2015 is a day to remember for many many years to come.

We thank the law enforcement agencies for hard work which ensured that the rally takes place without any untoward behavior, and our members for iron discipline which made the work of the law enforcement agencies easy. We thank the veterans of uMkhonto weSizwe and our marshals, who worked extremely hard to maintain order solely to guarantee the safety of the tens of thousands who attended the rally. We salute you!  

I also want to extend our sincere gratitude on behalf of the leadership of the ANC to all ANC staff members who sacrificed their festive season and left their families behind to respond to our call to descend on Cape Town to do organizational work without which the celebrations would not have happened. We thank everyone including those who participated in door to door work, handing out pamphlets and flyers, putting up posters, loud-hailing, and using all other means to convince people to come to the stadium.

These are indeed the basic tenets of organizing, which you have perfected and we are proud that we have in our ranks skilled organizers of your calibre. Your hard work, commitment and love for your organization serve as a reminder to all and sundry of the age-old principle that being a member of the ANC means being a servant of the people. You continue to prove that self-sacrifice and service to the people are two sides of the same coin.

The organization of this rally was not without challenges. The fact that it happened and it was a success is indicative of our innate capacity as ANC members to overcome challenges and forge ahead to implement our programme.

Holding the rally in Cape Town reminded our people in that province of what we said in our 2009 election Manifesto, which remains relevant as we head towards local government elections in 2016.

We said:
“In the period ahead South Africa will need a government with both experience and political will, a government that fully understands what needs to be done to address our apartheid past, a government that puts people first (batho pele) and builds a participatory democracy. The ANC, working together with the people, can form such a government’’.

Every ANC member in the Western Cape and beyond should work tirelessly to ensure that the local government elections result in a caring government that will understand the needs of the people of the Western Cape, especially the poor, and that is an ANC government.

Going forward, the tasks of the movement are very clear as outlined in the January 8, 2015 statement and branches should ensure that the tasks outlined in the statement are carried out as we advance towards a National Democratic Society, informed by the Freedom Charter which marks 60 years this year.

As the January 8 statement points out, we should use the Imvuselelo campaign to draw more people to the ANC and to grow the Movement.  Our primary message to all members and branches is that the ANC belongs to all the people of South Africa, that is why it is called a Liberation Movement.

The duty of members is to organize people and draw them into the ANC, and not to chase them away.

The problems that we have identified in our branches such as gatekeeping or membership buying must be nipped in the bud. All ANC members must report such malpractices to the leadership as we build an ANC that belongs to all.

Recruitment should go with political education and conscientisation. We should also renew and restore the values and principles of our Movement among all members - unity, selflessness, sacrifice, collective leadership, humility, honesty, discipline, hard work, internal debates, constructive criticism and self-criticism and mutual respect.

Let me remind you that we must build a caring ANC.  ANC branches must champion the interests of communities wherever they are found. Our people need to know that the ANC is their trusted ally and there is no issue that is too big for the ANC to resolve nor too small to warrant its attention.   We have launched the popular Back to Basics local government campaign. Our branches should participate in this campaign aimed at revitalizing local government and improving efficiency and effectiveness.

We should also move swiftly to implement the Polokwane conference resolution to establish street committees which will assist in handling community issues. The committees also have a key role to play in the fight against crime, including crimes against women and children, which are an apex priority.

This year we will hold our National General Council, (NGC), a platform of the organization where we reflect on the implementation of congress resolutions since the last conference. We must give ourselves time to scientifically analyze the implementation of our policies and determine whether or not they have achieved their intended noble objectives.

The branches of the ANC must make sure that the organisation emerges from the NGC as a renewed organization with the organizational capacity and direction to improve the lives of South Africans and move our country forward.

We once again thank all comrades and supporters for painting the City of Cape Town black, green and gold on the 10th of January and giving hope in the future for  the people of Cape Town and theWestern Cape!

Let us begin working on programmes to implement the directives in the January 8 Statement.

The leadership wishes you all a prosperous and successful 2015.

Let us work hard in unity, during this year of the Freedom Charter and Unity in Action for economic freedom!

Amandla!

Jacob Zuma is the President of the African National Congress
African National Congress Statement on the Passing of Comrade Jackie Selebi
23 January 2015

The African National Congress has learned with sadness the passing this morning of a giant and leader of our people Comrade Jacob Sello Selebi following a long illness. Comrade Selebi has been a long standing member of the African National Congress and the ANCYL. He has served both in the NEC of the ANC and had been the Chairperson of the ANC`s Youth Section which he represented at the World Federation of Democratic Youth for four years. He served as NEC member for 23 years. As an NEC member he was Chairperson of the Welfare Department.

His commitment to the liberation of our people had been his obsession which accounted for his unquestionably and undivided contribution.

Comrade Selebi emerged as one the individuals who embodied a singular focus in ensuring that South Africa become an example of a country that could occupy its place amongst nations. He served as Member of Parliament for the first term of the democratic government under President Mandela. In the post apartheid South Africa he served as the Permanent representative of the country at the United Nations. He was Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission United Nations, he was Chair of the Anti-landmine Conference, he later became the Director General of Foreign Affairs. In 2002 he was Vice President of Interpol in the African Region, In 2004 he became the President of Interpol which he served for a four year term. Comrade Selebi also served as the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service.

As we close the chapter of his life we are opening the chapter of his legacy which will inspire generations to come to serve this nation with loyalty and steadfastness. The ANC will continue to pursue the noble ideals and the society that Comrade Selebi pursued in his entire life to achieve. We dip our revolutionary banner in honor of this outstanding revolutionary. We convey our condolences to the family and kin at this difficult moment. His spirit and legacy will live on.
Issued by:

Zizi Kodwa
National Spokesperson
African National Congress

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Greece Begins Voting in Make-or-break Election
AFP, Sunday 25 Jan 2015

Greece began voting Sunday in a crucial general election that could bring the anti-austerity Syriza party to power and lead to a re-negotiation of the country's international bailout.

Syriza, led by 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, leads the incumbent conservative New Democracy party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras by around four points, according to pre-election opinion polls.

Some 9.8 million people are eligible to vote. Polling stations close at 1700 GMT, followed immediately by the results of exit polls.

Tsipras wants to renegotiate Greece's massive 318-billion-euro ($356 billion) debt and end the wage cuts and public spending reductions linked to its bailout by the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

The possibility of a victory for the radical left-wing party has sparked fears that Greece could default on its debt repayments and quit the group of 19 countries using the single European currency -- a so-called "Grexit".

Elli, a 20-year-old student casting her ballot in the middle-class Athens suburb of Nea Smyrni, said she would vote for Syriza, but admitted she had concerns.

"I was undecided until this morning because I'm afraid that the outcome of a Syriza win could be a default," she told AFP. "We need to stay in Europe."

Yannis Papacostas, a 50-year-old self-employed man, said he wanted the Greek people to "wake up" after six years of economic hardship.

"The worst scenario is that the parties will not cooperate," he said.

He said he would vote for To Potami (The River), a new party that could form part of a coalition government.

Tsipras has pledged to restore "dignity" to Greece and confront the so-called troika -- the EU, IMF and European Central Bank (ECB) -- which imposed the conditions linked to a 240-billion-euro bailout deal that began in 2010.

The Syriza leader says Greece has been put in an "unsustainable" position, forced to make spiralling debt repayments while the economy shrinks.

The IMF, meanwhile, has warned Greece that failure to repay its debts will carry "consequences".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country is seen as the driving force in the EU's austerity drive, said she hoped Greece would stay in the eurozone.

"I want Greece, despite the difficulties, to remain part of our story," Merkel said Friday.

Greece has seen a rapid economic decline since the eurozone crisis began, pushing unemployment above 25 percent.

Samaras argues it would be disastrous if voters bring Syriza to power just as the fiscal reforms he has supported could be about to bear fruit.

The 63-year-old Harvard-educated prime minister came to power after back-to-back elections in 2012 that routed the once-dominant Pasok socialist party.

Samaras initially argued for an easing of the terms of the bailout, but once in office he agreed to implement the deep cuts demanded by lenders.

He took a gamble last December by attempting to push forward a presidential election, but when lawmakers failed to agree on a candidate he was forced to call parliamentary elections.

Tsipras, a middle-class boy from Athens who trained as a civil engineer, says Syriza wants to smash the "oligarchy" that has traditionally dominated Greek politics and the media.

A Syriza official told AFP on Saturday the party was confident of victory. If it fails to gain the 151 parliamentary seats needed for an absolute majority in the 300-seat parliament it believes it would have little difficulty in forming a coalition government, the official said.

"Polls show we are five to 10 points ahead of New Democracy. What remains to be seen is whether we will have a clear majority," he added.

A likely coalition partner is To Potami, a pro-European party founded last year by investigative journalist Stavros Theodorakis.

Tsipras has said he wants to slash the debt in half and reach a new deal with the ECB by July.

A victory for Syriza could pave the way for other anti-austerity parties to break through in Europe. The leader of Spain's radical Podemos movement, Pablo Iglesias, appeared with Tsipras at his final campaign rally in Athens on Thursday.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/121224.aspx
Egypt Poised For Less Eventful Uprising Anniversary
Ahram Online, Saturday 24 Jan 2015

Dwindling support for the Muslim Brotherhood and days of mourning declared following the death of Saudi King Abdullah suggest that this year's anniversary of the 2011 revolution will be quiet

The fourth anniversary of the January 25 Revolution, which instigated the ouster of longstanding president Hosni Mubarak, is expected to be less eventful Sunday than the past three years.

On the one hand, Egypt's government postponed celebrations marking the 18-day 2011 uprising in mourning for Saudi King Abdullah, who died in the early hours of Friday.

Similarly, the interior ministry said it would call off celebrations of Police Day, also on 25 January, as the country declared a week of mourning for the late monarch.

On the other hand, calls for protests and rallies, akin to those marking past uprising anniversaries, have been negligible.

The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Egypt's second toppled president Mohamed Morsi hails, is expected to stage protests along with allies. Such gatherings are expected to be limited.

Since Morsi was ousted in July 2013 following nationwide demonstrations against his rule, the Brotherhood and supporters have been staging protests against what they describe as a "military coup."

However, a systematic crackdown on the Brotherhood and its allies, as well as the arrest of its leadership and many members, took a toll on the group's mobilisation.

The clampdown has been persistent, leaving the group with minimal ability to instigate noticeable protests ahead of 25 January.

Morsi's loyalists' weak position these days can also be put down to a loss in backing from non-Islamist political forces over the past three years.

Non-Islamist demonstrators in 2012's anniversary were angry with the Brotherhood for supporting the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) during its post-Mubarak interim rule.

Many other political forces at the time were outspoken in their condemnations of how the military was "ignoring revolutionary demands."

On 25 January 2013, when Morsi was still in power, demonstrators more blatantly hit out at the Brotherhood, deploring what they described as the "rule of the supreme guide."

At the time, the group's spiritual leader, Mohamed Badie, was widely believed to be the country's de facto ruler, with Morsi simply serving as a conduit for his commands that opponents believe also didn't fullfil the revolutiion demands.

The 2014 anniversary, which came months after Morsi's 3 July ouster following nationwide protests against his rule, saw mass rallies in support of then army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and less calls for revolutiion demands to be fulfilled.

Protests were staged against now President El-Sisi, the Brotherhood's arch-foe who they believed masterminded Morsi's ouster though the latter appointed him army chief.

On that day, the Way of the Revolution Front, which was considered the only potent non-Islamist opposition group, staged protests against the post-Morsi interim authorities as well.

Yet the umbrella group refused to stand side by side with the Brotherhood.

In the months leading up to the fourth anniversary of the 2011 revolution, protests marches and road blocking have be far less common in Egypt than in previous years.

But Morsi's loyalists have continued to stage regular rallies in defiance of a protest law passed by interim authorities late 2013 that bans all demonstrations not pre-approved by the police.

Protests would usually turn deadly between Morsi's supporters and opponents, whether civilian or from the security apparatus, for almost a year and half.

Although streets have grown calmer in the past months, Egypt has been hit by a cluster of bombings since Morsi's toppling.

Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, a jihadist group that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, claimed responsibility for many of these attacks amid its hostility towards the incumbent Egyptian authorities.

In general, Egypt still witnesses violent attacks, which usually target police facilities and personnel, but won't be prone to terrorism on 25 January, said security expert Ehab Youssef.

Youssef stressed that the police are more effective now than over the past three years. "Their presence on the street is more tangible, and that minimises chances for violence."

"But they still need a new strategy to preempt terrorism and not just respond to it," Ehab said.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/121184.aspx
Egypt Prosecutor Orders Investigation Into Killing of Socialist Protester
Ahram Online, , Sunday 25 Jan 2015

Shaimaa El-Sabag was shot dead with birdshot when police dispersed a peaceful march to commemorate the January 2011 revolution

Egypt's prosecutor general has ordered an investigation into the killing of a female protester in Cairo.

Shaimaa El-Sabag, 33, one of several dozen protesters at a march organised by the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, was shot dead with birdshot near Talaat Harb Square in downtown Cairo on Saturday.

The prosecutor summoned police personnel who dispersed the demonstration for questioning and subpoenaed police records of the event.

The records include the number of police present and the weapons they had been issued.

El-Sabag was an advocate for workers' rights and a leading member of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party in Alexandria, a group which supported both the January 25 revolution and the June 30 anti-Brotherhood protests.

She is survived by her five-year old son and husband.

Marchers were heading to Tahrir Square to lay flowers for protesters killed during the January 2011 revolution, one day before its fourth anniversary.

Following the incident, the interior ministry denied that a policeman had gunned El-Sabag down, saying marchers used fire crackers.

"And later," the statement reads, "a woman was injured and hospitalised, but she died after succumbing to her injuries."

However, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party said in a statement that their march was peaceful.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab said he had faith that whoever made a mistake would be convicted by a fair investigation and a just judiciary.

"The post-January 25 state respects the law, and apples it to everyone," he added in a press communiqué.

MoatazEl-Shenawy, Secretary General of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, deplored the "excessive force" used by the police to disperse the march.

El-Shenawysaid the march was not authorised by the police but was announced in advance.

A law passedby the interim authorities in late 2013 bans all demonstrations not pre-approved by the police, resulting in the arrest of many protesters despite condemnation from freedom of expression advocates.

The minister of interior had recently said that all violations of the law on fourth the anniverssary of the revolution that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak would be dealt with swiftly and firmly by the police.

On Friday, a 15-year-old teenage girl was killed in Alexandria after sustaining birdshot wounds in clashes with the police and pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters.

Shaimaa's murder produced considerable anger which was reflected on social media outlets.

In Facebook post, former Nasserist presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi held the ministry of interior responsible for Shaimaa's death.

"It is unreasonaable and unacceptable that the blood of Egyptians who want to express their views peacefully continues to be spilled four years after the glorious revolution."

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/121229.aspx