Thursday, February 04, 2016

Vernon Dahmer (1908-1966): An Unsung Martyr of the Civil Rights Struggle in Mississippi 
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
African American History Month Series No. 2

Voting rights organizer was targeted by the Ku Klux Klan for liquidation prompting the Black Power Movement

A staunch activist within the NAACP and a close friend of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Vernon F. Dahmer, Sr., was killed on January 10, 1966 in a Ku Klux Klan terrorist raid on his home at Kelley Settlement in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

The Dahmer family had received numerous threats during the period leading up to his death. He and his wife Ellie took turns sleeping in order to guard the home but apparently this was not enough to ward off the attacks that were launched by the Klan that fateful morning at 2:00 a.m. when his small grocery store and home was invaded and firebombed.

As early as the 1950s, Dahmer and other activists including Medgar Evers were victimized for establishing a NAACP Youth Chapter in Hattiesburg.

The website noted that this was a bold move by the organizers, “However, when its young president, Clyde Kennard, tried to enroll at a segregated college, he was framed for a petty crime and sentenced to seven years in prison.

When Kennard became seriously ill, his jailers refused to give him medical treatment. He died not long afterwards.”

Nonetheless, Dahmer continued to struggle for Civil Rights serving as president of the NAACP in Hattiesburg at a time when such a public stance was tantamount to making oneself a target of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizen’s Council. He was a proponent of universal voting rights and pledged his life to eliminating obstacles to full access for African Americans to the franchise.

A Role Model for Youth

Joyce Ladner, a former SNCC organizer, was mentored by Dahmer during her early years when he would take her to political activities and demonstrations against legalized segregation.

During the late 1950s when Ladner was a teenager she learned first-hand about the dangers of Civil Rights activism when the NAACP was outlawed in Mississippi and some other southern states. In 1956 a number of southern states initiated legal actions against the NAACP saying their existence defied state statutes.

State governments in the south took a variety of actions against the Civil Rights organization by demanding their membership lists and financial records. If these documents were turned over to these authorities, whom many were functionaries of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizen’s Council, the members and contributors to the NAACP would have been subjected to physical and economic retaliation by white ruling class interests.

Defiantly the NAACP state structures refused to hand over membership rolls and consequently they were levied huge fines and threatened with possible imprisonment.

The aim of these actions were to force the organization out of existence in the immediate aftermath of the growing influence of the African American struggle as exemplified in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the mass response to the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till of Chicago, who was killed in Money, Mississippi in August of 1955.

The NAACP fought these attacks all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled in its favor in 1958 in a landmark case, NAACP v. Alabama, which stated that the suppression of this organization through demanding its membership records was a violation of freedom of association as guaranteed by the Constitution.

Several other cases brought by southern state NAACP chapters also gained favorable rulings. However, the attacks against this organization and others continued well into the 1960s.

Ladner wrote in a recent article commemorating the 50th anniversary of the martyrdom of Dahmer that “In his short fifty-eight years, Dahmer launched voter registration drives, and adhered to the philosophy that it was his responsibility to be his brother and sister’s keeper. Perhaps it was also his economic independence that made him a target for the Ku Klux Klan.” (

This former activist and sociologist also said of Dahmer, “He annexed large tracts of land, built a commercial farm of cotton, owned a saw mill, a planer mill, and a grocery store. He hired his Black neighbors from Kelley Settlement to work for him, thereby carrying out his philosophy of being a good neighbor. This was largely unheard of in the fifties and sixties because very few Black people owned businesses. The jobs he provided reduced Black flight to northern cities and strengthened the local community. Vernon Dahmer was a generous man who believed in the power of a united community. He was also a leader in the Shady Grove Baptist Church as leader of the choir and Sunday school Superintendent.”

Dahmer Targeted by the Klan for Liquidation

The Dahmer home, store and farm was attacked and firebombed at the aegis of one of the most notorious KKK Grand Wizards of the period Sam Bowers. Consumed with a virulent hatred of African Americans, Bowers, like the early founders of the Klan during the late 1860s, came from an affluent family background whose members were involved in business and politics.

In an article published by the New York Times after Bowers’ death in 2006 described him as a “charismatic leader of the most violent and secretive division of the Ku Klux Klan, the Mississippi White Knights, which at its peak had up to 10,000 members by law enforcement estimates. The F.B.I. attributed nine murders and 300 beatings, burnings and bombings to Mr. Bowers and the group….. On Feb. 15, 1964, he coaxed 200 Klansmen assembled at Brookhaven, Miss., to join him in the founding of the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, an organization that defined itself in its unhesitating willingness to use violence.” (Nov. 6)

There were four attempts to prosecute Bowers for the murder but it took until 1991 for a conviction to be won. The persistence of the widow and children of Dahmer kept the case in front of the authorities in Mississippi.

This same NYT article said of the murder of Dahmer during the early morning hours of January 10, 1966, that “Mr. Bowers sent two carloads of Klansmen with 12 gallons of gasoline, white hoods, and shotguns to the Dahmer house near Hattiesburg, Miss., on a cold January night. The burning gasoline was tossed into the house; Mr. Dahmer, whose lungs were seared, held attackers at bay so his family could escape, then died later in the arms of his wife.”

Bowers died in a Mississippi prison in 1996 at the age of 82. Despite his and other Klan leaders’ demise, racist violence remains a stark reality in the U.S. well into the 21st century.

Racist killings, such as that of Dahmer’s, inspired SNCC leaders and others to adopt Black Power and militant self-defense as a political strategy in 1966. Some five decades later there is a resurgence of anti-racist demonstrations and urban rebellions.

Similarly in 2016, there is still strong resistance by law-enforcement organizations, prosecutorial agencies as well as local, state and federal courts to pursue criminal cases against those who commit acts of racist violence against African Americans and other oppressed peoples.

Just as there was never a federal anti-lynching law passed by the U.S. Congress after numerous attempts during the early decades of the 20th century when mob violence against African Americans was routine resulting in thousands of deaths and injuries, neither the House of Representatives or the Senate of today has taken any legislative actions aimed at ending the blatant state repression against people of color communities.

ICC Begins Trial of Ousted Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo
Leader was overthrown by French paratroopers, detained and sent to the Netherlands

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo is on trial in the Netherlands nearly five years after he was overthrown by French paratroopers with the backing of the United States.

Gbagbo had challenged the right of Paris who supported the current leader Alassane Ouattara, a former International Monetary Fund (IMF) functionary and darling of imperialism, to install a leader of the West African state. Ivory Coast is the world’s largest producer of cocoa and contains significant oil and natural gas resources off shore.

Numerous efforts were made by the Gbagbo administration to resolve the dispute surrounding the national elections in 2010. Nonetheless, Paris with the backing of Washington and its allies within the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) rejected peace overtures and a recount of the vote.

These elements were determined to remove Gbagbo and his political party from power and consequently went to great lengths to stage the coup which installed Ouattara. At present Ivory Coast is hailed by the West as a success story due to the greater penetration of its economy by the imperialist countries.

Gbagbo plead not guilty to four serious charges including murder and rape allegedly carried out by his supporters under his directives during clashes which resulted in 3,000 deaths after disputes surfaced over the 2010 presidential election results. ICC prosecutors in their opening arguments made at the end of January told the court that Gbagbo unleashed violence against his supporters in order to remain in office.

Defense Argues Political Motivation for the Trial

Lawyers for the defendants, whom also include former first lady Simone Gbagbo and youth leader Charles Ble Goude, are emphasizing the role of France in the inability of the Ivory Coast to resolve its own internal problems. Bringing in that it was French military operatives that arrested the former president in his makeshift residence poses a challenge to the character of the ICC which is based at The Hague.

First lady Simone Gbagbo was tried in 2014 and sentenced to twenty years in prison by Ivorian authorities under Ouattara. No members of Ouattara’s Rally of the Republicans (RDR) party have been indicted by the ICC or Ivory Coast prosecutors.

Defense attorney Jennifer Naouri said “Laurent Gbagbo continually sought solutions to the post-electoral crisis, proposing for example that votes be re-counted. Ouattara didn’t agree to this.” (Reuters, Feb. 1)

Gbagbo supporters in Ivory Coast and internationally have pointed out the bias of the proceedings. After the isolation and arrest of Gbagbo, his wife and other key leaders in April 2011, the western nations immediately recognized Ouatarra as the “legitimate head-of-state” in Abidjan. This same policy is continuing even though Gbagbo maintains tremendous support inside Ivory Coast.

At the opening of the trial hundreds of members and friends of Gbagbo were present at the court. Many wore shirts with Gbagbo’s image calling for his release from prison in the Netherlands.

Naouri emphasized “Gbagbo will never be able to shed the image of an anti-French nationalist that has been stuck to him by supporters of Alassane Ouattara. The French establishment will never accept him.” (Reuters)

Gbagbo began his career as an academic by training having earned a Ph.D in history. He was banned from his teaching post and imprisoned in 1971 for supposedly lecturing in a “subversive” manner.

He was left-wing ideologically and became a trade union organizer among educators during the 1980s. Gbagbo opposed the first Ivorian leader President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, a protégé of French neo-colonialism who ruled the country for three decades.

In 1982 Gbagbo was exiled in Europe returning in 1988 only to be imprisoned again in 1992. He formed the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) in 1982. Gbagbo took power through an electoral process accompanied by a popular uprising in 2000. He ruled the country until he was overthrown on April 11, 2011.

ICC Trial Takes Place as African Union Summit Opens in Ethiopia

This trial comes amid growing controversy within the African Union (AU) and other non-governmental forces over the character of ICC and its sole pre-occupation with the kidnapping and persecution of African leaders. Gbagbo is the highest ranking political official to be tried by the court which was established through the Rome Statute in 2002.

A case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta collapsed in 2015 after the credibility of witnesses against him before the ICC was effectively challenged. His Vice-President William Ruto is still embroiled in a legal battle with the court prosecutors led by Gambian national Fatou Bensouda.

Kenyatta was actively opposed by the U.S. and Britain when he won the elections in 2013. Both the British and U.S. governments under Prime Minister David Cameron and President Barack Obama leveled threats against Kenya saying it would be consequences if Kenyatta won the poll.

At the 50th anniversary AU Summit in Ethiopia in May 2013, widespread criticisms of the ICC and its failure to recognize the sovereignty of African states prompted calls for the withdrawal from the Rome Statute. Numerous African states have not signed the agreement and consider themselves not bound by its conventions.

Although the U.S. and other European states do not recognize the supposed authority of the ICC, the western capitals utilize the actions of the court which often coalesce with the foreign policy imperatives of Washington, London, Paris and Brussels. In Libya for example, when the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), NATO and its allies sought a legal rationale for the massive bombing of the North African state, the ICC rapidly indicted former leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi, members of his family and other officials at the time.

According to the Guardian newspaper with specific reference to the 26th Ordinary AU Summit held on January 30-31 in Addis Ababa, “Members of the African Union have backed a Kenyan proposal to push for withdrawal from the international criminal court, repeating claims that it unfairly targets the continent. Chad’s president, Idriss Déby, who was elected African Union chairman at the two-day summit in Addis Ababa, criticized the court for focusing its efforts on African leaders. (Feb. 1)

Deby said “Elsewhere in the world, many things happen, many flagrant violations of human rights, but nobody cares.” Of the nine countries targeted by the ICC only one is not in Africa, Georgia, a nation which was part of the former Soviet Union.

Another Gbagbo defense lawyer Emmanuel Altit told the ICC during the February 1 hearing “Ouattara and his supporters wanted to seize power by force and the battle of Abidjan was, simply put, the very implementation of this strategy. This is nothing more than a political narrative that has been heated up and re-served.”

Western Imperialism Ignored by ICC

Despite the egregious war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the imperialist states such as the destruction of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, etc., none of these leaders have been investigated or prosecuted by the ICC. At present the world is suffering from the highest levels of displacement since the conclusion of World War II.

Some 60 million people have become internally displaced persons, refugees and migrants largely stemming from the wars carried out by the Pentagon, NATO and their allies throughout the Middle East, Africa and South-Central Asia.

From an historical perspective, out of all the former slave trading and colonial states including the U.S. and many NATO countries, none have paid reparations to their former subjects nor been held legally accountable for centuries-long crimes that reaped billions in profits and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of millions.

Pan-African Journal: Special Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Sun. Jan. 31, 2016--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
Listen to this special edition of the Pan-African Journal hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

To hear the podcast of this broadcast just click on the URL below:

The program brings you our regular PANW reports with dispatches on the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where a debate is underway over whether to deploy 5,000 peacekeepers to the troubled Central African state; the drought is continuing to cause economic problems in the Republic of South Africa where the warmest period on record raises serious concerns; the people of Flint have drawn national and international attention over the poisoning of the water supply by the right-wing millionaire governor acting on behalf of the banks and corporations. However, the situation involving lead contamination is not limited to this industrialized Michigan city. Also more revelations are surfacing over the horrendous conditions prevalent within the Detroit Public Schools where teachers have engaged in wildcat strikes for several months. The Detroit Federation of Teachers submitted 100 photographs as evidence in a lawsuit aimed at improving conditions and ridding the system of emergency management.

In the second hour we conclude our monthlong tribute to the 87th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) through an examination of the Chicago Freedom Movement of 1966.

Finally we continue the recognition of the 40th anniversary of the passing of Paul L. Robeson, the legendary artist, author, actor and social scientist whose contributions to the world movement against colonialism and imperialism are now being hailed as pioneering and sustaining.
Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Sat. Jan. 30, 2016--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
Listen to this edition of the Pan-African Journal hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

To hear the podcast of this broadcast just click on the website below:

This broadcast features our regular PANW reports with dispatches on the burgeoning crisis surrounding the poisoning of the water supply in the city of Flint by the right-wing millionaire Gov. Rick Snyder working on behalf of the banks and corporations.

Recent tests of water quality in Flint reveals that excessively dangerous levels of lead remain even with the utilization of filters; Detroit Federation of Teachers have filed a lawsuit demanding that the Snyder-controlled public schools immediately clean up the horrendous physical and environmental conditions prevailing in the system which have been subjected to wildcat strikes demanding immediate action and the firing of the emergency manager Darnell Earley who was the EM when the water was switch from the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department to the polluted Flint River; the current leadership of the North African state of Tunisia is being further exposed for its links to imperialism and their allies in NATO and Saudi Arabia; and the African Union is meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where a myriad of issues require attention including the crises in Burundi, the drought in Africa, the migrant problem in the Mediterranean among other issues.

In the second hour we will continue our monthlong tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. examining the Memphis Sanitation workers strike of 1968, the final campaign of the Civil Rights and peace activist.

Also just this last past week marked the 40th anniversary of the transition of Paul Leroy Robeson, the Pan-Africanist and Communist artist, social scientist and organizer. We look at the life and legacy of Paul Robeson in the final hour of the program.
Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Featuring on Press TV World News: 'African Union Concerned About Potential Civil War in Burundi'
Sun Jan 31, 2016 3:27PM

Press TV has interviewed Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire, to discuss a recent summit of African Union leaders in Ethiopia.

Just click on the link below to watch this interview:

The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Well tell me overall, we are looking at the African Union summit and one of the main issues right now is Burundi. Why is that the case and can it make a difference, the decisions that they are trying to make about sending a 5,000 armed force into that country?

Azikiwe: It is a major issue because of the history of Burundi. Between 1993 and 2005 there was a civil war there which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Earlier last year, the President Pierre Nkurunziza demonstrated his willingness to serve a third term. That has been a major source of controversy inside of the country. There have been tens of thousands of refugees who have fled Burundi. At the same time, there has been the surfacing of an armed guerrilla organization which has launched attacks in several areas of the country including outside the capital.

So African leaders are very concerned that another civil war does not erupt in Burundi and that is why this issue is going to be a major cause of concern for the AU. However, the government there under President Nkurunziza says they oppose any deployment of African Union so-called peace-keeping forces inside the country. There is a plan to deploy 5,000 of them but the government has not bought in to this proposal.

Press TV: Do you think it is likely that the UN can exert at least enough power in order for the government to accept the peace-keeping forces or not? Do you think that the government will be able to get control of the situation on its own?

Azikiwe: Well there needs to be a more aggressive diplomatic initiative in relationship to the conflict in Burundi. Perhaps there could be talks between the government and the opposition parties, maybe even in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia or perhaps in Chad which is taking over the chairpersonship of the African Union. Chadian President Idriss Déby is taking over from Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. That could be an avenue to set aside a weekend or however long it takes to try to come up with some type of either national unity government or a resolution to the conflict in Burundi.

There are also issues surrounding the South Sudan, Africa as well as the world’s newest state which is attempting to build a unity government there as a result of conflicts over the last two years.
Why Did Detroit Public Schools Bar Union's Inspectors?
The Detroit Teachers Federation had invited health inspectors to assess the harms of mold and water damage inside the schools, many of which are in poor condition. But the district denied them entrance.

By Cathaleen Chen, Staff
Christian Science Monitor
FEBRUARY 4, 2016

The Detroit’s teachers union isn’t happy with the city’s public schools, after district officials barred the union's health inspectors from entering school grounds.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers had invited the environmental experts to check out possible health and safety concerns inside nine schools. The hygienists were brought in from New York, Washington, D.C., and Connecticut. They were prepared to document the conditions with photos, test for water leaks, and take mold samples.

"Prohibiting health inspectors to enter schools further erodes the trust of the school community. Rather than collaborating with people who just want to help make our schools safe, DPS is thwarting attempts to identify and fix the unsafe, despicable conditions," DFT interim president Ivy Bailey said in a statement Wednesday.

According to a DPS spokeswoman, the district had to deny the inspectors entrance because the union did not provide it with enough advance notice.

"Additional teams of people in the school buildings complicate the District's efforts to fully comply with state and local regulations,” DPS spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski told the Detroit Free Press in an e-mail. “Further, the [union was] seeking to have teams of unknown individuals come into our school buildings without proper or reasonable prior notice to administration and staff."

The district has recently conducted its own series of inspections inside the schools, which have drawn widespread attention for their dismal conditions. In recent weeks, the teachers have staged mass “sick-outs” to protest the city’s negligence. As The Christian Science Monitor’s Stacy Teicher Khadaroo reports:

The pictures of Detroit schools infested with patches of mold and dead rodents, with crumbling buildings sporting leaky roofs and buckling floors, have horrified parents nationwide.

Those conditions, plus overcrowded classrooms, classes taught by uncertified teachers, and declining pay, have long been a concern for teachers. But because of the outrage over children in nearby Flint, Mich., being poisoned by lead-tainted water, the cries from Detroit are suddenly resonating with a wider, more responsive audience.

Ms. Bailey and her cohorts had initially praised the city’s efforts in responding to the health concerns. For instance, inspections in the district of Spain found 16 violations. But the union wanted even more specific details of the potential harms.

The DFT said it plans on filing an emergency motion in court to get the inspectors inside the schools.

"We just want to make sure our school stays [open], and is safe," Spain teacher WaSeana Ballard told the Free Press. She said over the last six months, it seems that more students have been sick with headaches and respiratory problems.
The Migrant Crisis: No End in Sight
New York Times
FEB. 3, 2016

The perilous flight of refugees continues, with some 67,000 asylum seekers traveling to Europe last month. Meanwhile, the European Union and international donors are poised to increase their aid to one desperate group: Syrians displaced by war.

The refugees keep coming.

Forced from their homes by war and economic deprivation, tens of thousands of migrants made the perilous journey to Europe last month.

These asylum seekers, the latest surge in a great tide of human movement, have braved winter weather, stormy seas and closed borders in their escape from the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa.

On Thursday in London, the European Union and international donors are expected to pledge to increase their aid to Syrians displaced by war.

The toll, whether measured in lives or in dollars, is staggering.

Volunteers helped migrants arriving in November in Lesbos, Greece, one of the main entrance points for asylum seekers trying to reach Western Europe.

More People, Fewer Choices

More than 67, 000 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea since the start of the year. By comparison, 5,000 migrants made the journey across the Mediterranean in January 2015, according to the International Organization for Migration.

These newcomers join more than one million people who sought refuge in Europe last year. But more telling than the total number of migrants is the number who have been formally resettled: 190 in 2015, despite pledges to relocate almost 200,000.

“We have to go,” said Mohamed Salem Abrahim, a 17-year-old Afghan trying to make his way to Germany. Mohamed arrived in Greece two months ago after traveling through Iran and catching a leaky boat from Turkey. “What is the choice — to stay in our country and be killed, or come to Europe where we can be free?”

Desperate Children

This year, 368 people have died making the journey across the Mediterranean, 60 of them children, migration figures show.

Since the beginning of the year 19,781 minors have arrived in Europe, almost one-third of the total number of people making the journey.

On Saturday, 10 children drowned when a boat carrying them and their families crashed on rocks near Ayvacik, a Turkish resort town. Photos of at least two of the children, their lifeless bodies on a rocky shore, were disturbingly similar to the photographs of the 3-year-old Syrian boy Alan Kurdi that circulated on the Internet in September. The public outcry over repeated images of smartly dressed children washed up on Europe’s shores has been muted.

Women and children now make up most of the migrants entering Europe, surpassing single men, who were once the majority of travelers, according to Unicef.

For children, the journey is far more dangerous than a single boat trip. At least 10,000 unaccompanied minors have disappeared in Europe over the past year, according to Europol, the European division of Interpol. Many of those children have slipped through the bureaucratic cracks and found shelter with family members, but the police warned that many others have likely been kidnapped by traffickers.

New Restrictions

Citizens from 149 countries applied for asylum in Europe in 2015, according to the European Union, but the vast majority came from just three places: Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Germany, followed by Hungary and Sweden, received the most asylum applicants last year.

During the first half of 2015, 668,000 immigrants, including other Europeans and asylum seekers, entered Germany, according the German Interior Ministry, and the total for last year is expected to be around one million.

It is increasingly difficult for those who arrive in Greece and elsewhere to make their way to northern Europe as more countries close their borders to migrants.

Mounting Costs

Leaders from Europe and other world powers, including the United States, are expected to double, to $2 billion, the amount of aid they pledged to Syrian migrants last year. That is in addition to nearly $3 billion European Union leaders pledged to Turkey in November to help its government keep refugees from leaving that country for Europe.
Jobless Claims in U.S. Rise Amid Post-Holiday Adjustments
February 4, 2016 — 8:30 AM EST

The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits rose last week as employers continued to adjust staffing levels following the holidays.

Jobless claims climbed by 8,000 to 285,000 in the week ended Jan. 30, from a revised 277,000 in the prior period, a report from the Labor Department showed on Thursday. The median forecast of 47 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 278,000. The four-week average exceeded 280,000 for a third consecutive week, indicating the pace of firings has sped up a bit from historically low levels.

While the uptick in claims bears watching, it may also represents the week-to-week volatility common to claims data around holidays, economists said. Other recent reports show employers are holding on to existing staff and are still adding workers as they anticipate sales will improve.

“Claims seem to be in an upward drift toward 300,000,” said Russell Price, a senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. in Detroit. “The labor market is solid but not as strong as it was earlier. I certainly wouldn’t extrapolate from it that the economy is headed toward a recession.”

One state, Oklahoma, estimated data for jobless claims last week because of a glitch in its computer system. Otherwise, there was nothing unusual in the figures, a Labor Department spokesman said as the report was released.

Survey Results

Economists’ estimates in the Bloomberg survey for weekly jobless claims ranged from 265,000 to 295,000. The previous week’s figure was initially reported as 278,000.

The four-week moving average, a less volatile measure than the weekly claims numbers, increased to 284,750 last week from 282,750. The last time the average exceeding 280,000 for at least three consecutive weeks was in April.

The number of applications dropped as low as 255,000 in mid-July, the lowest in four decades.

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits fell by 18,000 to 2.26 million in the week ended Jan. 23. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.7 percent.

These data are reported with a one-week lag.

Since early March, claims have been below the 300,000 level that economists say is typically consistent with an improving job market.

ADP Data

Recent data indicate ongoing progress in the job market. Companies hired 205,000 workers in January after a 267,000 gain in December, the ADP Research Institute reported Wednesday.

The national payrolls report, due Friday from the Labor Department, may show employers took on 190,000 workers last month after a jump of 292,000 in December, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey. The unemployment rate probably held at 5 percent, matching the lowest since 2008.

Federal Reserve policy makers, who left the benchmark rate unchanged last month after raising it from zero in December, said labor market conditions have improved further. They still expect to raise borrowing costs at a gradual pace and are monitoring the fallout on the U.S. from the rout in financial markets and a slowdown in overseas economies.

Initial jobless claims reflect weekly firings, and a sustained low level of applications has typically coincided with faster job gains. Many layoffs may also reflect company- or industry-specific causes, such as cost-cutting or business restructuring, rather than underlying labor market trends.
(Adds economist comment in the fourth paragraph.)
Toxic Loans Around the World Weigh on Global Growth
FEB. 3, 2016
New York Times

Beneath the surface of the global financial system lurks a multitrillion-dollar problem that could sap the strength of large economies for years to come.

The problem is the giant, stagnant pool of loans that companies and people around the world are struggling to pay back. Bad debts have been a drag on economic activity ever since the financial crisis of 2008, but in recent months, the threat posed by an overhang of bad loans appears to be rising. China is the biggest source of worry. Some analysts estimate that China’s troubled credit could exceed $5 trillion, a staggering number that is equivalent to half the size of the country’s annual economic output.

Official figures show that Chinese banks pulled back on their lending in December. If such trends persist, China’s economy, the second-largest in the world behind the United States’, may then slow even more than it has, further harming the many countries that have for years relied on China for their growth.

But it’s not just China. Wherever governments and central banks unleashed aggressive stimulus policies in recent years, a toxic debt hangover has followed. In the United States, it took many months for mortgage defaults to fall after the most recent housing bust — and energy companies are struggling to pay off the cheap money that they borrowed to pile into the shale boom.

In Europe, analysts say bad loans total more than $1 trillion. Many large European banks are still burdened with defaulted loans, complicating policy makers’ efforts to revive the Continent’s economy. Italy, for instance, announced a plan last week to clean out bad loans from its plodding banking industry.

Elsewhere, bad loans are on the rise at Brazil’s biggest banks, as the country grapples with the effects of an enormous credit binge.

“If you have a boom and then a bust, you create economic losses,” said Alberto Gallo, head of global macro credit research at the Royal Bank of Scotland in London. “You can hope the losses one day turn into profits, but if they don’t, they are a drag on the economy.”

In good times, companies and people take on new loans, often at low interest rates, to buy goods and services. When economies slow, these debts become difficult to pay for many borrowers. And the bigger the boom, the more soured debt that is left behind for bankers and policy makers to deal with.

In theory, it makes sense for banks to swiftly recognize the losses embedded in bad loans — and then make up for those losses by raising fresh capital. The cleaned-up banks are more likely to start lending again — and thus play their part in fueling the recovery.

But in reality, this approach can be difficult to carry out. Recognizing losses on bad loans can mean pushing corporate borrowers into bankruptcy and households into foreclosure. Such disruption can send a chill through the economy, require unpopular taxpayer bailouts and have painful social consequences. And in some cases, the banks might find it extremely difficult to raise fresh capital in the markets.

Even so, the drawback of delaying the cleanup is that the banks remain wounded and reluctant to lend, damping any recovery that takes place. Japan, economists say, waited far too long after its credit boom of the 1980s to force its banks to recognize huge losses — and the economy suffered for years after as a result.

Now many banking experts are beginning to worry about China’s bad loans.

Fears that the country’s economy is slowing have weighed heavily on global markets in recent months because a weak China can drag down growth globally.

Many of these concerns focus on China’s banking industry. In recent years, banks and other financial companies in China issued a tidal wave of new loans and other credit products, many of which will not be paid back in full.

China’s financial sector will have loans and other financial assets of $30 trillion at the end of this year, up from $9 trillion seven years ago, said Charlene Chu, an analyst in Hong Kong for Autonomous Research.

“The world has never seen credit growth of this magnitude over a such short time,” she said in an email. “We believe it has directly or indirectly impacted nearly every asset price in the world, which is why the market is so jittery about the idea that credit problems in China could unravel.”

Headline figures for bad loans in China most likely do not capture the size of the problem, analysts say. In her analysis, Ms. Chu estimates that at the end of 2016, as much as 22 percent of the Chinese financial system’s loans and assets will be “nonperforming,” a banking industry term used to describe when a borrower has fallen behind on payments or is stressed in ways that make full repayment unlikely. In dollar terms, that works out to $6.6 trillion of troubled loans and assets.

“This estimate really isn’t that unreasonable,” Ms. Chu said in the email. “We’ve seen similar ratios in other countries. What’s different is the scale, which reflects the massive size of China’s credit boom.” She estimates that the bad loans could lead to $4.4 trillion of actual losses.

Although there is not enough official data to come up with a precise figure for bad loans, other analysts have come up with estimates of around $5 trillion.

Given the murkiness of the Chinese financial industry, other analysts arrive at estimates for a “baseline” figure for bad loans. Christopher Balding, an associate professor at the HSBC School of Business at Peking University, said that an analysis of corporations’ interest payments to Chinese banks suggested that 8 percent of loans to companies might be troubled. But Mr. Balding said it was possible that the bad loan number for China’s overall financial system could be higher.

The looming question for the global economy, however, is how China might deal with a vast pool of bad debts.

After a previous credit boom in the 1990s, the Chinese government provided financial support to help clean up the country’s banks. But the cost of similar interventions today could be dauntingly high given the size of the latest credit boom. And more immediately, rising bad debts could crimp lending to strong companies, undermining economic growth in the process.

“My sense is that the Chinese policy makers seem like a deer in the headlights,” Mr. Balding said. “They really don’t know what to do.”

In Europe, for instance, some countries have taken years to come to grips with their banks’ bad loans.

In some cases, the delay arose from a reluctance, at least in part, to force people out of their homes. Even though Ireland’s biggest banks suffered huge losses after the financial crisis, they held back from forcing many borrowers who had defaulted out of their homes. In recent years, the Irish government has pursued a widespread plan that aims to reduce the debt load of financially stressed homeowners. Such forbearance appears not to have weakened the Irish economy, which has recovered at a faster rate than those of other European countries.

Still, the perils of waiting too long are evident in Italy, which in January announced a proposal to help banks sell their bad loans. Some critics of the plan say it resembles a government bailout of the banks, while other skeptics say the banks might not use it because it appears to be too expensive.

“The big problem in the Italian system is that they acted very late,” said Silvia Merler, an affiliate fellow at Bruegel, a European research firm that focuses on economic issues. “They could have done something smarter — and they could have done it earlier.”
Zimbabwe Liberation War Truants Causing Disharmony, Says Mutsvangwa
Monica and Christopher Mutsvangwa.
February 3, 2016
Opinion & Analysis
Lovemore Ranga Mataire
Zimbabwe Herald

Recent troubles within the war veterans movement and brazen disrespect shown to liberation war fighters are fanned by factionalists and successionists in the ruling zanu-pf. War veterans leader Cde Chris Mutsvangwa (CM) recently opened up to our Senior Writer Lovemore Ranga Mataire (LRM) about this and other issues affecting former fighters. Below are excerpts of their conversation:

LRM: What is your response to those in the war veterans association purporting to have passed a vote of no confidence in your leadership?

CM: It’s the bane of poverty, which arises from precisely what I have alluded to. You know the destitution of war veterans makes them very vulnerable especially to young and ambitious unprincipled arrivists in the party who think that power can easily be grabbed and can seize it in whatever direction. So they are jealous, they envy the esteem of the war veterans within society and they want to hijack it and appropriate it for themselves.

They want that aura associated with heroism of the war, the organisational capacity and the moral standing of the war veterans.

They want to abuse it so they look at the vulnerability of war veterans — of course they are poor, and they use that vulnerability to all sorts of compromises.

So some few war veterans who are really destitute, who are on the margins of the leadership, they are coaxed, cajoled or hoodwinked into trying to set up a splinter organisation.

LRM: Can you be specific? Who coaxed them? Who hoodwinked them?

CM: Like I mentioned, these are arrivists in the party, some people who came into the party in the post-independence era who have no history of the struggle, so they have no particular respect for the party, they think that all these years war veterans have not been at the centre of power.

Some of them are truant members who ran away from the war. They never participated and instead went to school in America, made names for themselves for criticising the struggle and the post-independence order of President Mugabe. Then afterwards they were welcomed back into the party because at a certain stage in the revolution, you get so many enemies arraigned against you. It is proper that you unite all the forces and that’s what happened in the last 10 years.

It was important that we embraced people of every hue and stripe back into the party to form a united front and minimise the chances of those people being used by our enemies. So we embraced them back into the party.

LRM: So you think the current contradictions in the party are as a result of these “truant members” who joined the party in the post-independence period?

CM: Yes, there is a certain professor that I will not mention by name, who thinks that the status and glories accorded to him in the party and with an overblown ego, thinks that he can one day be the leader.

He suffers from mental amnesia about his truancy at the crucial stage of the armed struggle. And has affinity to his uncle who was dethroned from the army and later commanded an army against the liberation struggle. Everybody knows Ndabaningi Sithole and his retrogressive role in the struggle. This professor is on record trying to seek posthumous rehabilitation for Sithole.

Everybody knows Ndabaningi Sithole and his retrogressive role in the struggle. A professor is on record trying to seek posthumous rehabilitation for the man pictured here.

He wanted hero status for his uncle. He wanted national hero status for Sithole, something which is anathema.

He wanted Sithole to go and sleep at the same place with Joshua Nkomo, Simon Muzenda, Josiah Tongogara and Nikita Mangena. How can that be? That would have caused ructions at the Heroes Acre. But this professor had the temerity to bring the issue to the President because Ndabaningi Sithole is his uncle.

How can a man who commanded soldiers against people he had originally sent to war (be a hero?) You know he had his own army in 1978 which was later bombed by Ian Smith for indiscipline.

So even Smith couldn’t countenance them. They had been deployed against their erstwhile comrades as the war became thick. So his allegiance is to a clan, to a family, to a village, to a totem —  things that are all contrary to the ethos of the liberation struggle.

For us when you joined the war, you didn’t even remember your name. You were given a new name.
The only name you remember was that you were a liberation war fighter for Zimbabwe.

We couldn’t be identified by where we came from. That’s why we are so bonded and for him to wade into the waters of such a bonded organisation such as the war veterans in the vain hope that you can create himself and his youthful cohorts in the party.

They are youthful cohorts in the party who listen to him, who think they can refashion the war veterans. It’s not possible, so obviously people overlook the fact that war veterans were revolutionaries, they were not mercenaries working for Nkomo or Mugabe; these are fellow revolutionaries who happened to have been leaders whom we were following. They mistake our allegiance to the President, which is earned and our allegiance to Nkomo which was earned. They mistake it to the allegiance of a mercenary to a military commander. We are different, this is self chosen loyalty given to a person . . . it’s a cadreship relationship. But they think that they can just come and seize it and direct it into any direction and that’s why the whole splinter movement came to naught.

LRM: But why do you think the status and importance of war veterans is now being challenged by people you describe as having joined the party in the post-independence era?

CM: The tragedy is that these people think that war veterans are a tribe from Mozambique or Zambia. They forget that war veterans come from each and every village in Zimbabwe. So there is a misnomer which is coming up, a disturbing misnomer which begins to see war veterans as if it’s a tribe from exile.

And then they create an artificial barrier between war veterans and the ordinary people and these people calling themselves G40 they now claim that those who didn’t go to war are the majority and we are diminishing.

LRM: Are the contradictions within the party that you attribute to this nameless professor not linked to the succession issue?

CM: Of course it has, Jonathan (Moyo, Professor) belongs to Ndabaningi Sithole family. He is a nephew of Sithole and by all conduct he thinks that Sithole was unfairly dethroned and President Mugabe usurped the power of his uncle.

He thinks that the army belongs to his clan and that’s why he went to ask for hero status for his clan despite the apostasy of his uncle.

His uncle became a sell-out. He himself is a gaper, he gaped the war, and he left others in the trenches and left for school and spent all his life away from the war.

Now he comes back, for him the war was frozen because his uncle left so he wants to take off from where his uncle left (off) so that he becomes the leader of Zimbabwe.

That’s why he is brazenly questioning the ethos; conduct and inheritance of a war which he absconded from, which he was a coward to fight. Now he wants the glory of that victory to become his pedestal to become a new power broker in Zimbabwe.

We will not accept Jonathan as a power broker in Zimbabwe. If he wanted to be a power broker he should have remained throughout the struggle and if he had remained in the struggle, I want to question whether he would (have) remained with his life because in the struggle there was a lottery for lives and many people perished.

What is the assurance that he would have survived because many people who equally had thinking brains lost their lives?

LRM: Can we talk about what is happening in Mashonaland West where the provincial executive recently passed a vote of no confidence in you and recommended to the Politburo for your expulsion?

CM: I think Cde (Peter) Chanetsa, the former governor, summed it up, and these are people with dubious history. Like all opportunists, this is what I have been telling people like Professor and all these G40s to have the courage of their conviction and form their own party like Morgan Tsvangirai.

Don’t try to appropriate a party that so many people worked for and died for and try to refashion that party into your own image. And try to purge people you have personality clashes with.

You only use vote of no confidence on counter-revolutionaries with a track record of being against the wishes of the people. You don’t use it to address petty quarrels; it is an instrument of last resort.

Mao and others talk about the correct handling of contradictions among people.
If you have common cause among people, you don’t have irreconcilable differences.
But it is the enemy that you have irreconcilable differences (with). This is how we bonded people in the war and shunned everything that divides the people.

LRM: In other words, you are saying you are not losing sleep over that vote of no confidence?
CM: We don’t lose sleep because they don’t know the ethos of the party. The party is going to sift them out like chaff in a harvest. These are chancers, revolutionaries never lose sleep over chancers.

The glaring woeful lack of respect for the structures of the party is seen by the fact that the Politburo is given by the congress of the party and someone from nowhere tells the President that you are firing his minister or Politburo member. So some people see themselves as Presidents of the Republic.
This is an extrapolation of power which only a chancer on a sponsored agenda dares to tread, this is where angels fear to tread.

The unfortunate thing is that he doesn’t see it because we have had a political commissariat which has never tried to educate people on the ethos of the party, the ideology of the party and these things are not bought off the shelf.

These are matters of history but unfortunately there is that institutional poverty. People are tried and condemned for rules they never knew exist.
Rules come out of a pocket of a power broker in the party and he applies them as he goes along the highway. It is sad that (this is happening in) a party with such a history of discipline, of organisation, of ethics, which are etched in all the minds of Zimbabweans.

I want to salute Cde Chanetsa for succinctly putting it as it is. These are crooks and chancers. Soon they will realise that they are passing a vote of no confidence in themselves. These people don’t belong to the party.
Zanu-PF in Opposition to Itself
Prof. Moyo facing criticism over factional disputes.
February 4, 2016
Reason Wafawarova
Zimbabwe Herald

NOW that the opposition monster that rose at the dawn of the 21st Century has in every sense of the word imploded into irreversible self-destruction, it appears Zanu-PF cannot thrive without the once vicious opposing force from Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC.

So much accustomed to acute political survival is Zanu-PF that the party seems to no longer have the will and capacity to run its affairs in times of peace, and sadly that includes its mandate to govern the country.

Last week, Presidential spokesperson George Charamba denounced what he called “successionists” within the ranks of Zanu-PF in an interview with a local radio station.

He described as “little fellas” the people he said wanted to incite unspecified civil servants to work against one of the Vice Presidents, and he warned that the attempt by these people to pretend to be championing the cause of the First Family would soon backfire, and that the “cabal” would soon “come to grief.”

He denounced the naivety of these “little fellas,” whom he said simplistically “think (they) can scale up a political ladder by tweeting,” and he also lambasted the same people for manipulating a few headlines through social media in the hope of launching “stupid ambitions.”

Mr Charamba gave a chilling and revealing warning to these Zanu-PF mischief-makers.

“But something must give in now. I am having to fend off bad Press from within Zanu-PF not from MDC, but from within Zanu-PF 24/7, from my own fellow party members, yes I am a civil servant, but I am Zanu-PF.”

So we have the President’s spokesperson working day and night to fend off bad Press against the governing party, from within the same governing party, and targeted at the very same party; like a big snake biting its own tail, and trying to fend off the effort at the same time.

Ordinarily the State President’s spokesperson must have little to do with his boss’ party affairs, where another spokesperson is usually mandated to preoccupy him or herself with such matters.

In this particular case the spokesperson publicly gives a disclaimer by declaring membership to the party in question, something perhaps not exactly unusual for a person appointed to a position such as Charamba’s.

It would be news if the man belonged to an opposition party, wouldn’t it?

Technically, Charamba is expected to be stately in behaviour, feigning apoliticalness, and to represent Mugabe the statesman, not the politician.

Clearly it is hard for Charamba to feign neutrality when politicians from President Mugabe’s party start throwing spanners in the executive duties of their own party leader, like deriding any of his deputies, and/or frowning upon their efforts to execute their assigned duties.

Since Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was appointed to his current position in ZANU-PF and in Government, there have been unprecedented public efforts to demean and belittle the appointment itself by a section from within the party, as was done by Professor Jonathan Moyo when he told the BBC’s Hard Talk programme that the appointment only amounted to the VP being President Mugabe’s personal “assistant.”

Zimbabwe has had the Vice President’s post since 1987, and every thinking citizen knows the difference between the country’s number two leader, and the Head of State’s personal assistant.

It is hard to confuse the two, even from the viewpoint of complex semantics from a renowned academician.

Many people read disdain and intentional confrontation in the semantics used by Prof Moyo then, and that included the media in Zimbabwe.

Although Charamba did not put any names to the people he attacked in his interview, there was one man who was clearly irked by Charamba’s utterances, and he responded rather furiously through Twitter.

This man was none other than Prof Moyo, fast-establishing himself as the war man against one of President’s Mugabe’s top most appointees.

Charamba seems convinced that a price will be paid for this.

The two men have worked together in the past, for better and for worse, and this is not the first time Moyo has attacked Charamba publicly.

Both men were strong advocates for the 2013 elections, when a force within Zanu-PF led by the then Vice President Joice Mujuru was reportedly opposed to the election, arguing for a continued coalition governance with Tsvangirai’s MDC.

The two men fronted the media effort that thrashed the so-called “moderates” from Zanu-PF, and for their sterling efforts they earned themselves the tag “hardliners,” coming mainly from an incensed West, through its pliant civic organisations and private media.

The election happened, the landslide victory happened, and when the Mujuru cabal hijacked the subsequent election victory to influence the structures of the new government, Prof Moyo and Mr Charamba again led the effort to clip VP Mujuru’s wings.

At first the efforts were clandestine and subtle, but as 2014 progressed the gloves were off, and we saw the dramatic fall of VP Mujuru and her supporters and cronies.

Prof Moyo has in the past clashed with a number of Vice Presidents, and he has been accused of “insubordination,” and also of “destroying the party from within.”

Notably, he clashed with the late Joseph Msika and also John Nkomo, and of course he also publicly helped to fight Joice Mujuru.

Prof Moyo was not yet in Government when Vice President Nkomo died in 1999.

It is ironic that although Prof Moyo’s expulsion from Zanu-PF in February 2005 was officially because of his decision to run as an independent in Tsholotsho, it was widely held that the party decision to disqualify him for the candidacy through a women quota system was punishment for his perceived support for a Mnangagwa vice presidency ahead of Joice Mujuru the previous year.

The irony is that Prof Moyo now portrays himself as a bitter opponent of the man whose bidding he so frantically fronted in 2004, and there is a lot of speculation on the reasons for his somersaulting behaviour, or is it the fall out?

Well, flip-flopping is not new for Prof Moyo. When he initially coined the concept of “Generation 40” in 2011, he was bitterly opposed to the continued presidency of Cde Mugabe.

Today there is a shadowy outfit reportedly going by the same name, and supposedly led by him, which in public unequivocally supports the 2018 candidacy of President Mugabe, while at the same time it is vigorously pursuing the succession politics of the same man in the run up to the same election — vehemently declaring who should, and who should not succeed the party leader.

Prof Moyo is talented at agenda setting, as he did with the media part of the revolution during the land reform programme, and with AIPPA as well.

His inaugural efforts with the 2000 constitution-making process flopped with the NO vote, but not before the man had established himself as a political guru on the national scene.

His IMPI project introduced after he was reappointed Information Minister in 2013 backfired drastically, but Zim-Asset has also been linked to his hand.

Currently the man is pursuing what he calls STEM — a promotion of natural sciences in our higher education sector, and he has this ability to make everyone run with his agenda.

It is not advisable to personally run with Jonathan Moyo in politics. The man has had too many expendables in his political adventures. When he gets expended himself he has a way of bouncing back, but it is not always the case with those he drags along, like some of his many appointees in the public media, many of whom have ended up worse off than they were before they were elevated by the man.

If it is true that there is a rival team to Prof Moyo’s perceived shadowy group within Zanu-PF, and the two groups have gone to the extent of wearing rival promotional regalia, then one can justifiably rue the demise of the opposition in Zimbabwe.

Zanu-PF is so used to being opposed that it has had to create an artificial but dangerous opposition from within its own ranks, all at the expense of national duty.

While Charamba is trying to rein in renegades from his party, the reality on the ground is that mediocrity within some in government leadership has reached alarming levels, and that probably explains why one minister recently made headlines for saying all we need to do in order to industrialise is “pray”.

Zanu-PF now knows that political dramas can be exciting enough to keep people’s focus from their challenges, and as such the party has naturally created an opposition to itself.

If by a miracle the country were suddenly to have a rising wave of genuine opposition, the quarrelling forces within Zanu-PF would suddenly put aside their difference and regroup for political survival.

But must not the party take peaceful times as an opportunity to focus on developmental issues?

This is what the government must be doing as opposed to creating suspense and uncertainty right in the face of an expectant population.

This writer desperately hopes for a better Zimbabwe, and takes exception to the treacherous trend of factional politicking within the ruling party.

Zanu-PF cannot take people for granted on the mere basis that its power prospects are not under threat.

The greatest threat to Zanu-PF’s future has never been the opposition. It has always been the people of Zimbabwe. Revolutionaries know this.

Organised by the structures of Zanu-PF, the people can demand their right to be governed well.

Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!

REASON WAFAWAROVA is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.
Zimbabwe War Collaborators Back Mutsvangwa
February 4, 2016
Samantha Chigogo
Herald Correspondent

The Zimbabwe Liberation War Collaborators Association has thrown its weight behind war veterans leader Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa, dismissing the petition that emanated from Mashonaland West recalling him.

In a statement, Ziliwaco chairperson for Chegutu District, Cde Siphiwe Chikukwa, said the petition that targeted Cde Mutsvangwa was fraudulent, as such should be disregarded.

“As members of the War Collaborators Association, War Veterans, Ex-detainees and zanu-pf members in Chegutu District would want to condemn in the strongest terms the untimely petition that was targeted at Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa who is our member in the Central Committee,” she said.

“We, as Chegutu District do hereby stand by him. We say the dismissal is baseless and does not have signatures of the electoral college that voted him into the Central Committee which made him to be appointed a Politburo member.

“We kindly ask other districts in the province not to interfere with our district affairs as some of our members are crying foul as their signatures were forged.”

Cde Chikukwa said they were aware that there were some “power hungry individuals” who were bent on destabilising the party.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe National Liberation Supporters Association (Zinalisa) has also come out guns blazing, attacking people in the party who promoted factionalism and insubordination.

Zinalisa president Cde Collins Chipare, said they supported President Mugabe’s call for unity in the country in general and the ruling party in particular.

“We are urging all Zimbabweans of all social strata, race, creed, colour and tribe to desist from engaging and fuelling factionalism in the ruling party zanu-pf that promotes disunity among our people.”
Zanu-PF Youths Slam Social Media Abuse
Prof. Jonathan Moyo once again at the center of factional disputes.
February 4, 2016
Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

The Zanu-PF leadership should intervene and stop rogue elements that have intensified their nefarious agendas of destroying the party from within by abusing social media and discussing classified party secrets on public platforms.

The sentiments by the Zanu-PF secretary for the Youth League Cde Pupurai Togarepi come in the wake of frenzied tweeting by Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo who has been attacking fellow party members on social media.

Cde Togarepi told The Herald yesterday that Zanu-PF had mechanisms to deal with those who refused to toe the party line.

The call by the Youth League followed similar concerns by other progressive organisations that have expressed displeasure over the abuse of social media by senior Government and party officials.

Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association expressed its displeasure on the same issue and yesterday Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri weighed in saying abuse of social media might destabilise the country.

In his official capacity as Zanu-PF First Secretary, President Mugabe last year voiced his displeasure over the abuse of social media. He said party members should not seek to undermine each other using the Internet.

In an interview yesterday, Cde Togarepi said the intentions of those abusing social media were not clear.

Cde Togarepi said Zanu-PF had plenty platforms and organs to discuss party issues such as the Politburo, Central Committee and National Consultative Assembly among others.

“It is unfortunate and we are very worried at the continued abuse of these social media platforms,” he said.

“As Zanu-PF, we do not have a platform called Twitter, WhatsApp or Facebook.

“It is something we are worried about and we are struggling to stop our youths from abusing these platforms.

“The leadership of the party should sit down with those involved. If they refuse to listen, there are procedures to deal with them.” The more worrying aspect, said Cde Togarepi, was that the party does not know who controlled the servers of those social media platforms.

As such, he said messages posted on social media could be used by the party’s detractors to destroy the party in future.

“We don’t know who controls the servers of these platforms and to us it is a cause for concern,” he said.

If put to good use, Cde Togarepi said, social media platforms could be used to advance party programmes.

He said it was worrying when such platforms were being turned into cannons of assault on fellow party members.

He said President Mugabe spoke strongly against such abuse and bona fide party members should take heed.

Meanwhile, expelled Zanu-PF Mashonaland West chairman Mr Temba Mliswa yesterday attacked Prof Moyo for accusing Cde Chris Mutsvangwa of allegedly abusing his ministerial office after he convened a meeting of war veterans at the Presidential Guard barracks.

He said it was surprising that Prof Moyo reacted quickly on the matter yet he was yet to respond to allegations levelled against him. “It further surprises me that (Prof) Moyo has elected to rush to release a Press statement in attack of the aforementioned meeting and its purported agenda and yet I, and I believe the general populace, are still waiting with baited breath to be made privy of details pertaining to the good Professor’s alleged carnal persuasions,” he said.
In Michigan, Emergency Manager Darnell Earley Steps Down, Gets D.C. Subpoena
By Lorenzo Ferrigno, Ray Sanchez and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
9:49 PM ET, Tue February 2, 2016

Darnell Earley will resign as emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools amid an uproar of his tenure there as well as his previous tenure as emergency manager overseeing the water supply in Flint, Michigan.

The former emergency manager of Flint has drawn criticism for the water crisis there

The emergency manager who's a focus of increasing criticism over lead-poisoned water in Flint, Michigan, and decrepit Detroit school facilities is stepping down from his job.

Darnell Earley sent a letter to Michigan's governor Tuesday announcing his resignation from his role as emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools. Hours later officials in Washington sent him a different kind of message: a subpoena.

The House Oversight Committee issued a subpoena on Tuesday evening for Earley to testify Wednesday morning before the congressional committee, according to a staffer on the committee.

Neither Earley nor his lawyer has accepted service of the subpoena because it "borders on nonsensical," attorney A. Scott Bolden told CNN.

"We would give it every consideration if he had more time to prepare, was properly served and issued an appearance with a reasonable date," Bolden said.

Bolden said Earley is not in Washington and "travel is impossible" to appear by Wednesday morning.

Earley has been at the center of twin crises that have in recent weeks put a spotlight on Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's administration.

From 2013 to 2015, he was emergency manager for Flint. In the city of nearly 100,000 some 70 miles northwest of Detroit, Earley has become a lightning rod for residents who fear health problems because of lead-laden tap water.

Appointed by the governor to oversee Detroit Public Schools in January 2015, Earley was named as a defendant last week in a lawsuit by the teachers union that called for his ouster and accused officials of allowing the conditions at the schools "to deteriorate to the point of crisis."

Earley was invited Monday to testify about the water crisis at Wednesday's House Oversight Committee hearing. He declined that invitation Monday evening, Bolden said.

The ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings, expressed disappointment at Earley's decision not to appear.

"Mr. Earley has a right to assert the Fifth Amendment, but his abrupt resignation earlier today and his refusal to testify before the Committee make it even more urgent that we hear directly from the Governor as soon as possible about this escalating scandal," Cummings said in a statement.

Snyder has said he had not been invited to the hearing.

Earley told the governor in a letter that he will step down officially on February 29, saying he worked diligently "to eliminate the district's structural budget deficit."

Snyder said Tuesday that he would appoint a transition leader to take over Detroit's 46,000-student school system -- beset by teacher sickouts over decrepit facilities, overcrowding, insufficient maintenance and other issues -- by the end of the month.

"Darnell has done a very good job under some very difficult circumstances," Snyder said in a statement.

Ivy Bailey, interim president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, said Earley's departure is a "step in the right direction." She accused him of "a willful and deliberate indifference to our schools" and "a blatant disrespect for the teachers, school employees, parents and students of our city."

Denies responsibility for water switch

Under his tenure, in 2014, the city's water supply was switched from Lake Huron to the notoriously filthy Flint River, a decision reversed more than a year later amid reports of corroded pipes and elevated blood lead levels.

Shortly after the switch, the water began looking, smelling and tasting funny, dirty even. It turned out the river water was highly corrosive -- 19 times more corrosive than the water in Lake Huron, Virginia Tech researchers discovered.

Earley has said he was not responsible for the switch, only for implementing it.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and the governor have declared states of emergency since reports were released about the quality of the water. Snyder called in the National Guard to help deliver clean water to residents.

Federal prosecutors in Detroit have been working with several agencies -- including the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general and criminal division -- to investigate the water contamination.

And critics have called for Snyder to resign, accusing his administration and officials he appointed of prioritizing cost cutting over public safety.

Snyder told CNN last week that he's committed to dealing with the water crisis and won't step down.

CNN's Kristina Sgueglia, Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz contributed to this report.
Teachers Union: DPS Barred Our Inspectors From Schools
Leonard N. Fleming, The Detroit News 8:08 p.m. EST
February 3, 2016

Calling district officials obtrusive to health concerns, the Detroit Federation of Teachers lambasted Detroit Public Schools for blocking its health inspectors from investigating conditions at nine schools Wednesday.

Standing in front of Spain Elementary-Middle School near Midtown, DFT officials complained that the conditions throughout the district are at dangerous levels and that teachers and students deserve to know about suspected health hazards such as lead and mold spores.

“The district ... will not allow us to have (inspectors) in the building,” said Ivy Bailey, DFT interim president, who was flanked by union health inspectors and officials. “Our members are demanding that we give them specific answers to what’s going on in their schools.”

DFT officials, who brought in union health inspectors from New York City, Washington, D.C., and Connecticut, said they plan to file an emergency motion in Wayne County Circuit Court to force DPS to allow them entry into the buildings. The DFT already has a lawsuit pending against the district over poor building conditions.

The union inspectors had planned to check conditions at Spain, Thirkell Elementary-Middle School, Mann Learning Community, Carleton Elementary School, Detroit International Academy for Young Women, Dossin Elementary-Middle School, Gardner Elementary School, Noble Elementary-Middle School and Sampson-Webber Leadership Academy.

DFT officials admit that their findings are preliminary but say there have been numerous complaints about roof problems, possible asbestos and other issues in DPS schools.

They estimate as many as 40 percent of students in DPS may be suffering from a respiratory illness that can be exacerbated by mold in buildings. A survey is going out Wednesday to ask teachers and staff for specific observations in schools or illnesses they have been diagnosed as having.

Reports of problems ranging from mold and water damage to rodent infestations and a lack of heat led teachers to conduct a series of sickouts, forcing dozens of district schools to close.

Beginning last month, the city of Detroit has sent inspectors to DPS schools, with plans to check all 97 buildings in the next few months. The district said this week it is addressing some of the violations found so far.

Robert Fetter, an attorney representing the DFT, said the union is pleased with the city’s inspection efforts but they don’t focus on “the health consequences to the people inside those buildings, the students, the teachers, the employees.”

One preschool teacher, Kimberly Collins, held up a tiny water bottle full of an unknown sediment that she claimed was collected from a faucet in her classroom. “We don’t know what it is,” she said. “But we use this water for a lot of things.”

Fetter said the goal is to “supplement what the city is doing” and give more resources to address problems.

“We want to help DPS provide solutions to the problems that they are facing,” he said. “I don’t know why they wouldn’t allow us to help. It would be like in Flint if the citizens there said we are on our own, we are going to go pay for the top experts in the country to help you with the water situation and them saying no, we don’t need that. DPS is not in a position to deny help that they don’t have to pay for.”

In an email, DPS spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski said the district believes the union inspections are not necessary because of the ongoing visits from city inspectors.

“Detroit Public Schools has been, and will continue to work closely with the city of Detroit, which has regulatory jurisdiction over the District’s 97 school buildings as it relates to compliance with property maintenance and safety regulations,” she said.

“The AFT/DFT has access to the inspection reports completed by the city,” Zdrodowski continued. “Additional teams of people in the school buildings complicate the district’s efforts to fully comply with state and local regulations. Further, the DFT/AFT were seeking to have teams of unknown individuals come into our school buildings without proper or reasonable prior notice to administration and staff.”

Ann Mitchell, who works for the American Federation of Teachers national office, which was dispatched to help the DFT with the health inspections, said concerns about building conditions are not only coming from members but from parents and students too.

“We’re very concerned about the health and safety environment,” Mitchell said. “And we really applaud what the city has done, going in and making sure that these tests are starting. These experts have expertise. They know solutions. They know how to deal with these problems and can provide answers.”

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Burundi Crisis: Grenade Blasts Rock Capital Bujumbura
3 February 2016
BBC World Service

Three grenade explosions have rocked the capital of the troubled central African nation of Burundi.
The blasts occurred in Bujumbura's central business district, and reports suggest at least four people were injured.

Burundi has been in crisis since April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a controversial third term.

This led to ongoing violence and fears that Burundi is sliding into ethnic conflict.

The BBC's Prime Ndikumagenge, in the capital, says the latest attacks are unusual because they occurred in daylight, and in the centre of the city, whereas most violence happens at night.

Two grenades were hurled around midday, near the central post office and a building hosting a mobile phone operator, injuring four people.

The third grenade was detonated at a bus station south of the capital, behind what used to be the central market, our correspondent says.

At least 439 people have died and 240,000 have fled abroad since last April, the UN says.

Last month, human rights group Amnesty International published satellite images it said were believed to be five mass graves near Burundi's capital, where security forces were accused of killing scores of people in December.

A fact-finding mission by the AU has reported arbitrary killings, torture and the "closure of some civil society organisations and the media".

Burundi: Key facts:

The country is facing its worst turmoil since the 12-year civil war ended in 2005
10.4m population
50 years - life expectancy for a man
2nd poorest country in the world
85% are Hutu, 14% Tutsi
300,000 died in civil war
UN, World Bank, CIA

Burundi's deepening crisis:

April 2015: Protests erupt after President Pierre Nkurunziza announces he will seek a third term in office.
May 2015: Constitutional court rules in favour of Mr Nkurunziza, amid reports of judges being intimidated. Tens of thousands flee violence amid protests.
May 2015: Army officers launch a coup attempt, which fails.
July 2015: Elections are held, with Mr Nkurunziza re-elected. The polls are disputed, with opposition leader Agathon Rwasa describing them as "a joke"
November 2015: Burundi government gives those opposing President Nkurunziza's third term five days to surrender their weapons ahead of a promised crackdown.
November 2015: UN warns it is less equipped to deal with violence in Burundi than it was for the Rwandan genocide.
December 2015: 87 people killed on one day as soldiers respond to an attack on military sites in Bujumbura.
January 2016: Amnesty International publishes satellite images it says are believed to be mass graves close to where December's killings took place
Nigeria President Warns of Libya 'Time Bomb'
2016-02-03 20:35

Strasbourg - Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari urged the international community on Wednesday to help end the turmoil in Libya, warning that it was creating a "strategic time bomb" for Africa and Europe.

In a speech to the European Parliament, Buhari said the situation in lawless southern Libya was particularly alarming as it was creating a flow of arms affecting Nigeria and other countries.

Buhari is fighting to end a bloody six-year insurgency in Nigeria by Islamist group Boko Haram, which is estimated to have caused the deaths of 17 000 people and forced more than 2.6 million others to flee their homes.

In the past year the group has extended its reach beyond the borders of Nigeria, stepping up attacks in Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

Libya has been gripped by chaos since the 2011 US-backed counter-revolution that toppled Pan-African leader Mummar Gaddafi, with two rival regimes currently holding sway and the Islamic State group on the rise.

"I must express our serious concern about the alarming situation in southern Libya which is becoming a strategic time bomb for Africa and indeed Europe," Buhari told MEPs in the French city of Strasbourg.

"The ungoverned south of southern Libya has become a... arms bazaar which threatens the security of the Sahel region as well as the north Africa region and beyond.

"We must therefore intensify our efforts to find a lasting solution to the Libyan crisis."

The EU and UN have been backing efforts to form a national unity government in Libya but this has been beset by problems.

Since 2014 Libya has had two regimes, with the recognized authorities based in the eastern city of Tobruk and a militia-backed authority in Tripoli.

In mid-December, only a minority of lawmakers from both sides signed a UN-backed deal to unify the government in the oil-rich North African nation.
Clinton Role in the Destruction of Libya Remains Stain on Candidate's Campaign
Hillary Clinton says the 2011 decision to bomb the country was ‘smart power.’ Critics say it was a monumental failure of western imperialist foreign policy

February 3, 2016

When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton walked into the gilded Elysee Palace in Paris on March 14, 2011, she found a fired-up French President Nicolas Sarkozy eager to launch military strikes in Libya.

It had been nearly a month since Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s security forces had began to defend the country from Tripoli and other areas against an imperialist-backed counter-revolution.

Clinton had been traveling the globe meeting with allies, hoping to find a diplomatic solution to avoid U.S. military action in yet another Muslim country. She knew European and even Arab allies wanted to strike Gaddafi, and she had come to Paris to hear them out, still unconvinced.

Now, with a huge column of Gaddafi’s tanks and soldiers closing in on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, an animated Sarkozy gave Clinton “an earful” about the imminent defeat of the imperialist plot to seize control of the oil fields and waterways so strategic to their geo-political designs in North Africa.

“He told Hillary, ‘Something must be done,’ ” said a senior European diplomat directly involved in the Paris talks. The diplomat said Clinton came out of the meeting shaking her head about Sarkozy’s hyper-energetic style.


Nothing reveals more about politicians than the decisions they make — why they chose to do something, how they made it happen, what came of it. The Washington Post is exploring one key choice by each leading presidential candidate and explain the insight it offers into the way he or she might operate in the White House.

“But he’s right,” she said, according to the diplomat.

A few hours later, after consultations with British and Arab surrogates and a leader of the Libyan counter-revolutionaries all demanding action, Clinton joined a White House meeting of President Obama’s National Security Council by phone and forcefully urged the president to take military action.

Clinton’s decision to shed her initial reluctance and strongly back a military operation in Libya was one of the most significant — and risky — of her career.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, national security adviser Thomas E. Donilon and others were against military action, contending that the United States had no clear national interests at stake and that operations could last far longer and cost more lives than anyone anticipated.

But Clinton joined U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice and White House adviser Samantha Power in pressing Obama to back a U.S.- and NATO-led military campaign, arguing that the United States could not let Gaddafi defeat their regime-change plans.

Obama sided with Clinton’s argument, and three days later, on March 17, the U.N. Security Council passed a U.S.-backed resolution authorizing “all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians. U.S. warplanes immediately destroyed Libya’s air defenses before ostensibly turning the operation over to NATO under Washington's command, which continued strikes until Gaddafi was captured and killed in October.

Clinton has pointed to the international military operation as a signature moment in her four-year tenure as the top U.S. diplomat: “No one else could have played the role we did,” she wrote in her book “Hard Choices,” adding that acting with European and Arab allies helped “prevent what might have been the loss of tens of thousands of lives.”

But Libya today has deteriorated into a virtual neo-colonial client state by hundreds of private militias. Eighteen months after the initial airstrikes, U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in attacks by militants on a U.S. diplomatic post and a nearby CIA site in Benghazi. The North African nation has become a primary outpost for the Islamic State, which has exploited the chaos to take territory, train soldiers and prove its strength outside Syria and Iraq.

While the administration’s use of force was widely praised at the time, Libya has become a liability for Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and one of the central lines of attack on her by the leading Republican candidates — and some Democrats.

Some have accused her of timidity for not pushing for a stronger and more sustained U.S. military and diplomatic campaign in Libya. Others have faulted her for getting involved at all, accusing her of “adventurism” for going beyond the civilian-protection mandate of the U.N. resolution and toppling Gaddafi without a better plan for what came next.

Clinton has repeatedly defended the Libya military intervention as U.S. “smart power at its best.”

“We had a murderous dictator . . . threatening to massacre large numbers of the Libyan people,” she said during an October Democratic presidential debate. “We had our closest allies in Europe burning up the phone lines begging us to help them try to prevent what they saw as a mass genocide, in their words. And we had the Arabs standing by our side saying, ‘We want you to help us deal with Gaddafi.’ ”

But where Clinton sees “smart power,” her attackers see poor judgment and a failure to learn from mistakes made in Iraq — a war that Clinton initially voted for as a senator, then acknowledged was a mistake during her 2008 Democratic primary campaign against Barack Obama.

As in Iraq, Clinton backed a military operation that toppled a Pan-African leader yet was marred by poor postwar planning that led to violent chaos and the ultimate rise of new and even greater threats to U.S. interests.

Much of the criticism has been over the killing of Gaddafi when the U.N. mandate was only to protect civilian life.

While many mourned the loss of Gaddafi, his death, at the hands of imperialist-engineered opposition forces, has had long-term effects on U.S. relations abroad. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was his country’s prime minister during the debate over Libya, remains highly critical of the decision to pass the resolution, which he asserts Washington used as a justification for eliminating Gaddafi.

Analysts have said Putin’s anger over Libya has been a key stumbling block in diplomatic discussions about whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should stay or go.

“How did we move from protecting civilians to the decapitation of the entire military and the state? I don’t know the answer,” said the European diplomat. “The Russians accused us of playing fast and loose with the resolution, and Putin never misses a chance to throw that in our faces.”

Whether different choices by the United States and its European and Arab allies could have prevented the chaos now crippling Libya remains fiercely debated.

But Clinton’s deliberations in the early weeks of the Libyan crisis offer a glimpse of how she would make decisions as commander in chief.