Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Home Ownership Down in the United States



U.S. home prices keep rising, but homeownership is down

Home prices are rising at levels not seen since the real estate boom, driven higher by investors, but U.S. homeownership remains on the decline.

By Alejandro Lazo, Los Angeles Times
6:00 PM PDT, April 30, 2013

Home prices are rising at levels not seen since the real estate boom, but American homeownership remains on the decline.

The two trends underscore the nature of the housing rebound: Gains in pricing have been driven significantly by investors, leaving many would-be buyers behind.

Prices are rising because of strong demand, a lack of supply and a sharp recovery in the hardest-hit markets. The number of foreclosed homes coming to market has also dropped dramatically. But because lending standards remain tight, the everyday home shopper is often losing out to investors able to pay cash.

"What we are seeing right now is definitely not normal," said Jed Kolko, chief economist for real estate website Trulia.com.

The number of homes for sale has not only been constrained by the drop in foreclosed properties. The low level of building over the last several years also has diminished supply, as has the fact that many borrowers remain stuck underwater — owing more on their homes than the market value — and are unable to get the prices they need to sell their homes.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index of 20 American cities rose 0.3% in February over the previous month and was up 9.3% over February 2012. It was the ninth consecutive annual increase in the closely watched index and the best annual improvement since May 2006.

Quiz: How much do you know about mortgages?

A separate report by the Census Bureau showed the nation's homeownership rate hit 65% in the first quarter, a decline of 0.4 percentage point from the prior quarter and the same quarter last year. An increase in the number of rental properties, tight mortgage-lending standards and stiff competition among investors have made it tough for average buyers, analysts said.

"Although there are some signs that conventional, mortgage-dependent buyers are playing more of a role in the housing recovery," wrote Paul Diggle, property economist for Capital Economics, "investors remain the dominant force behind the house price bounce-back."

Investors, both large and small, have swarmed once beaten-down housing markets over the last year. Many have sought to buy homes on the cheap, fix them up and rent them out with an eye toward long-term appreciation. But prices have risen so quickly that this strategy has become increasingly difficult.

"It's become harder, because the pricing has moved up," John Gray, the global head of real estate for private equity firm Blackstone Group, said in a trip to Los Angeles last month. "L.A. is probably the toughest market."

Phoenix, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Atlanta were the four cities with the highest year-over-year price increases in the Case-Shiller index. The California metro areas covered by the index posted double-digit increases over the year in February. San Francisco was up 18.9%, Los Angeles was up 14.1% and the San Diego area was up 10.2%.

The big swings in prices — particularly in the cities of Phoenix, Las Vegas and Atlanta — have some economists concerned that these markets are in danger of overheating.

"The rates of increases there are just incredible, and it's the sort of thing that if it stops tomorrow, then OK," said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. "If they continue for another six months, then you have a bubble there for sure."

With heavy investor interest, Atlanta appears to have recovered from a wave of foreclosures that pummeled that metro area in 2012, according to S&P analysts, while the Western cities have shown strength after crashing hard during the bust.

All of the cities covered by the index have risen year-over-year for two consecutive months. New York, Chicago and Boston saw the smallest year-over-year gains in February.

Phoenix posted particularly strong gains, up 23% over the year. That metro region has emerged as the epicenter of the recovery.

The Case-Shiller index, created by economists Karl E. Case and Robert J. Shiller, is widely considered the most reliable read on home values. The housing index compares the latest sales of detached houses with previous sales and accounts for factors such as remodeling that might affect a house's sale price over time.

Although some economists have said the jumps in prices are some cause for concern, others note that the index is an imperfect measure of appreciation. Because there were so many distressed and foreclosed homes on the market, the swings down may have been over-exaggerated, just as the increases may not be as strong as the underlying numbers.

"Both the swings down and the swings up are magnified," said Thomas A. Lawler, founder of research firm Lawler Economic and Housing Consulting.


Urgent Appeal On Behalf Of Mohammed Abu Alqasim Azwai


May 1, 2013
By Alexandra Valiente
Viva Libya!

Mohammed Abu Alqasim Azwai served his country with love and devotion for over 40 years, whether working abroad as a diplomat or as a minister in Libya.

He was born in the village of Al Zwaya in the south of Libya in August, 1942. He graduated from Cairo University in 1968 from the faculty of Law and holds a foundation (pre-Doctorate) diploma in International relations.

After graduating in 1968, he worked in the Public Prosecution’s office in Tripoli until the 1969 revolution. Following that event, he held numerous positions within the Libyan Government which included:

Director of the Libyan Broadcasting Center in 1970
Under Secretary of the ministry of Media in 1972
Minister of the Ministry of Media in 1975
Assistant in the Libya’s General People’s Congress 1978
Minister of Justice and the Interior in 1982
Ambassador of Libya to Morocco in 1984
Representative of Libya at the United Nations Security Council 1994
Minister of Justice and the Interior in 1997
Ambassador of Libya to the United kingdom in 2000
Ambassador of Libya to Morocco in 2007
Secretary General of Libya’s General People’s Congress 2010

After the fall of Tripoli, he was taken by Hakim Belhadj to various locations, finally ending up in a holding cell at the Mitiga Air force Base.

There, he was stripped of all personal belongings and confined for three months in a small cell shared with two other inmates. They slept on a bare floor and were not permitted to leave the cell. The door only opened when food was brought to them each day.

Then, without authorities notifying his family or friends, he was blindfolded and transferred to a secret location. It was later discovered he was being kept at the former Police Academy of Hadba Al Khadra in Tripoli, which is now called Maslahat al-iIslah wa Ta’heel (Correction and Rehabilitation Institute) in Alhadba Alkhadra, officially part of the Ministry of Justice, but essentially run by local rebel militias.

Maslahat al-iIslah wa Ta’heel, in Alhadba Alkhadra, where Mohammed Abu Alqasim Azwai and several high profile political prisoners are detained and where their “trials” are held.

Shortly after his transfer he was approached and offered his freedom if he would pay an exorbitant sum of money. As he was innocent of any crime and had never shed blood, he refused and opted to remain in custody, under what he knew were precarious circumstances, along with other fellow members of the former government.

After this, he was subjected to extraordinary harsh treatment as the torture and interrogations began.

He was interrogated whilst blindfolded and was subjected to crude and offensive verbal abuse by a group of unidentified men during an informal investigation that would continue for hours at a time. After months of torment, through intervention from human rights groups, the torture ceased.

As he awaited the commencement of an official investigation into his alleged crimes, his family petitioned Mustafa Abdul Jalil to release him on compassionate grounds, given his age and numerous health challenges, with the written promise that he would return to be present at any stage of the judicial proceedings. Their appeal was denied.

At this point, Mohammed Abu Alqasim Azwai had been detained for over eight months, (September 2011- May 2012) without charges or an appearance before a judge.

In January of 2012, he was questioned by the Public Prosecution, where they attempted to implicate him in wrong-doing with regards to the Lockerbie case and the “squandering of public funds”.

In May, 2012, the Judicial Police began an investigation, which resulted in the leveling of purely fabricated charges, which included:

The squandering of public funds.

The sale of the Libyan School in London, which procured the necessary funds to provide Libya’s diplomatic mission with an official residence.

His 40 years of service in varying positions in the former government.

Since leaving the Mitiga Airforce Base, Mohammed Abu Alqasim Azwai continued his imprisonment at the Maslahat al-iIslah wa Ta’heel (Correction and Rehabilitation Institute) in Alhadba Alkhadra.

For a short while he shared a cell with other inmates, including Dr.Abuzaid Dorda.

However, in October, 2012, he and his cell mates were placed in solitary confinement, where they have remained to the present day.

Confined in a small cell with only a mattress on the floor, the prisoners are exposed to extreme heat in summer and cold in winter.

They are denied fresh air and exercise. They are given foods they are unable to eat due to their deteriorating health and pre-existing medical conditions. All of the prisoners suffer from sleep deprivation, anxiety and depression.

Their medical needs are not being met, resulting in increasing and alarming health complications.

Mohammed Abu Alqasim Azwai’s family fear he will not receive a fair trial. His lawyer has been denied access to files vital to his client’s case that impede his ability to defend him and prove his innocence.

The family’s access to Mohammed Abu Alqasim Azwai has been limited. Even when they have arranged visits and they have been officially approved months in advance, they are turned away upon arrival at the prison.

The family never know if they will be detained when they attempt to visit Mohammed Abu Alqasim Azwai.

They have endured assassination attempts, the loss of their home, poverty following the freezing of their bank accounts, constant fear for their lives and the life of their loved one, and unrelenting trauma.

Car bomb explosion outside their residence that nearly killed Mohammed Azwai’s family

Mohammed Abu Alqasim Azwai’s trial is taking place now.

His family have asked for the public’s assistance in appealing to the following:

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, requesting that they attend Mohammed Abu Alqasim Azwai’s trial to assure it is fair.

The current Libyan authorities, demanding that:

Mohammed Abu Alqasim Azwai’s lawyer have access to all information necessary for his proper defense, that he be detained in humane conditions, that his urgent medical needs be properly and thoroughly addressed immediately.

The family stated that for over 40 years Mohammed Abu Alqasim Azwai has given everything for Libya and the Libyan people. All that he asks in return for his years of service is justice, a fair trial, humane treatment and his basic human rights.

© Copyright 2013 by Libya 360° and Viva Libya!. Republication is strictly forbidden. You are however encouraged and welcome to post the link to the original. On behalf of Libya’s political prisoners, we thank you for your support.

Col. Muammar Gaddafi Speech on July 23, 2011

Monday, 1 August 2011


Qaddafi Mentions Importance of People's Conferences in July 23rd Speech

From: Mathaba

On the occasion of the birthday of Arab African hero Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt, the Libyan historic revolutionary leader gave a speech, the full text is translated here by Mathaba

Speech of Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qaddafi on July 23rd, 2011, addressing the people of Egypt:

In the name of The God [Arabic: Allah], on the occasion of July 23, the anniversary of the historic July revolution. You do not need me to remind you of the July Revolution, which has proven correct all of what Abdul Nasser said, namely that reactionism was always an agent of colonialism. Reactionism is linked to backwardness and is not linked to progressiveness.

Reactionaries are always agents of colonialism, because the reactionary ruler cares for nothing but to stay in power. He knows that he has no links to the masses. He seeks help from foreigners, so he pursues policies that serve colonialism so that he stays in power. Thus the rulers of Libya before the revolution, the rulers of Egypt who were like rulers in the Gulf who seek help from foreign bases, the American and British forces, they placate Zionism to appease colonialism, they have no dignity.

All what Abdul Nasser said was right, all he said about revolution was correct. All he said about socialism was correct. All he said about colonialism was correct. Regardless of the military aspect of July 23 Revolution, the charismatic Abdul Nasser was able to transform the revolution or the coup into a revolution that rid the country of feudalism, exploitation and capitalism and above all evicted the foreign bases.

Then it took on a nationalist trend because Abdul Nasser realized that Egypt alone would not be able to liberate Palestine and even maintain its independence hence Abdul Nasser called for Arab Unity.

If the [Arab] nation had reacted to the call of Abdul Nasser, the Arab nation would have been by now a powerful respected nation like Iran, Turkey, India or Russia. All nationalities were embodied in a state: the Toranic nationality embodied in the Turkish state, the Persian one in an Iranian state, the Hindu one in India. Except the Arabs, as the Arab nationality was not embodied in one state, thus the Arabs remained feeble entities [small states], subordinated and sometimes stricken like now in Libya, Iraq, Palestine and Somalia.

[Political] parties in Egypt were the cause of the revolution. Read what Sadat had to write at the time about the Egyptian revolution and the [political] parties. Abdul Nasser was the one who said that he who becomes a member of a party was a traitor meaning that he entered in an alliance with a group of people who share the same regional or ethnic affiliation in which he compromises the interests of the whole society.

Parties were there in Egypt, but what had they accomplished: corruption, compromising Palestine and engagement in exploitation. Backwardness prevailed and that was the reason for the strong revolt. The parties were annulled when they became irrelevant and outdated and were replaced by the Socialist Union, a coalition of the working people who have an interest in the revolution, in freedom and progress. All these powers were allied together to lead the society without right or left or centre right or center left [political positions].

Then [along] came Sadat and to appease the West he abolished all what Abdul Nasser had done including and foremost the "Socialist Union", he brought back [political] parties, he talked a lot about parties though he earlier wrote about the Egyptian revolution criticizing political parties. The return of parties marked the end of the July 23 Revolution and from that time on Egypt returned to the situation that was before the revolution or even worse. Under Sadat and after him Egypt offered whatever the West asked to no avail, the subordination did not do Egypt any good, it did not solve Egypt's economic problems nor did it give it military power, it [even] ranked below Lebanon.

What has the revolution given? Revolution means people seize power, but how can the masses govern? This is the historic question that followed Athens [ancient greek experiment in direct democracy]. The answer is in the Green Book, it is that the people organize themselves into People's Conferences [Arabic: مؤتمر ], including all adults, men and women, and power becomes in their hands, and they then appoint People's Committees.

The People's Committees becomes responsible in front of the People's Conferences: the secretariats of the basic people's conferences and secretaries of the people's committees meet in an assembly called the "General People's Congress" [or National People's Congress], each person makes [his or her] decisions at the basic People's Conference and not his [or her mere] thoughts, and those decisions made by the masses of the basic People's Conferences from across the nation are brought [to the General People's Congress].

They formulate decisions in all conferences, in a single formulation that determines the policy of the country and what the people want, and the people's committees, which were appointed by the people, execute those decisions, and everything becomes for the people: wealth belongs to the people, arms belongs to the people and power belongs to the people, media belongs to the people, and not to a certain individual.

You have seen the problems in America now and in Britain, and you have those problems too and they are present in every country, everyone wants to have a big share in the media which is funded from abroad, foreign countries make a TV station in your country, a newspaper in your country and a political party in your country.

That is not Democracy, demo-cracy means people sitting on the chairs, the word cracy was taken from the Arabic language or the Persian language, which we have taken from them, the chair was mentioned in the Quran, the word cracy (chairs) could be Persian, people on the cracy(chairs), when all the people sit on the chairs then it is called demo-cracy, and when people don't sit on the chairs then it is not democracy, then it is called political party cracy, government cracy, classcracy, but not democracy.

Democracy means people on the cracy (chairs), so how can [all the] people sit on the chairs? People organize themselves into basicPeople's Conferences, all of them, as the political system passed [historically] through the following stages: the monarch stage - this is prior or after the rudimentary stage - the first stage being monarchy, the king emerged, a person emerges who could own the land and what's on it. This is monarchy. This ended, development ended it, it is no longer permissible for anyone to own the land and what's on it, only in the Persian Gulf, since it is not Arab.

The second stage was the republic (Arabic: Jumhuriyah), Jumhur - plusiyah - means people appoint a king, a president of the republic, who is [in fact] a king appointed by the people for a short or a long period of time, the same thing.

The important thing is that the second stage was the republic is when people began to select who governs them, and the republic continued. The republic has become dull and failed and the world is suffering [under this system] and the masses destroyed.

The third stage was the Jamahiriya, Jamahir (masses) came, sinceJamahir - plus iya - becomes Jamahiriya, the first Jumhur that became Jumhuriyah, and the second Jamahir which leads to Jamahiriya, and this is the final stage and the end of the road for the problem of power, the power becomes for the people, how?

It becomes the Jamahiri system with the basic people's conferences, the people's conferences appoint people's committees, the conferences decide and the committees execute [carry out the decisions], there is the popular security, there is the armed people, the people's control, and the inciting force we call it the revolutionary committees, or the movement of the revolutionary committees that incites the people to seize power until they practice authority.

Why did you take action that toppled Hosni Mubarak? Why? We were expecting the establishment of the Jamahiriya [self-governing masses society] whether in Tunisia or in Egypt, these are the people just as The Green Book calls for to seize power without weapons and without violence, just as the explanations of The Green Book indicate, that the masses reject the political system and stage a sit-in until the political system is toppled and they replace it.

This happened in Libya in the 1969 Revolution that was carried out by the army, and people heard that the monarchy political system was toppled, the government and representative council were cancelled and there was a void, people across Libya formed the people's conferences [ مؤتمر] on their own.

We anticipated that when you toppled the people [earlier this year, that you would] replace them with a popular revolution, establishment of the Jamahiri [direct participatory democracy] system, following the disruption and destruction which you have carried out. But to put in place another president, you might have done better keeping the previous president [Mubarak] until he had finished his term then elected another president without demonstrations or sit-ins in the Tahrir square.

What does that mean? Do you want to bring a super-president? Will he be better than Mubarak? As for Mubarak, he does not deserve this maltreatment. We should not be an ungrateful nation. As Machiavelli said Rome was not an ungrateful nation. When Roman commanders lost a war they were honoured, rewarded and sent into retirement.

Who will be loyal to Egypt after this end of Hosni Mubarak [of Egypt] or even Zine El Abidine [of Tunisia]? Who will be loyal to Egypt? Hosni Mubarak was exposing himself at risk to defend you, and to die for you. He was a pilot fighting Israeli forces that attacked Egypt. Instead of being honoured, he is insulted. Who will sacrifice more than Hosni Mubarak?

Hosni Mubarak went to sacrifice himself for you and your country before you were born. He has got just two children because he was a pilot and may die at any time in battle in defense of Egypt, so he decided to have only two children to be raised by their mother, while other Egyptians have got ten or more. Every Egyptian family consists of ten, twenty or fifty. The wife is as a school followed by a queue of children. Is it reasonable?

This is the end of who sacrifice for you. I know Hosni Mubarak. He is a poor man, modest and loves you. I know him. If he did not love you I would have attacked him and exposed him like other rulers. But I know him. He begged. He came to me and asked me for ferries, when the ferry sank. He went to Saudi Arabia to beg for other ferries. He also asked me and others for train locomotives.

Who will travel on these locomotives? Will he travel in them? They are for you. Sometimes we have no morals, just as when we insult (Nasser). Abdel Nasser a hero of the Arab nation; leader of the Arab nation; a great man who struggled against colonialism and Zionism; who dared and removed the royal system, and cancelled a mistake of (Bakri) and the Egyptian people, who have brought the revolution and appointed an Ottoman officer from Albania to govern Egypt as if there was no men in Egypt to rule the country.

They came with Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali's family ruled Egypt 150 years. The family owned the whole country till Egypt became a manor of Muhammad Ali because of this mistake. Then Nasser came and said ''this cannot be. It is nonsense. We, Egyptians, are we men to be ruled by an Albanian officer for 150-years generation after generation?!

Now, without plenty of space, military, economic and security power which country can live. The 53 African countries can't live. No one of them can face the storms of this age only when the African Union becomes as the U.S, the European Union, or the Russian Federation. A European big nuclear state cannot live alone, not Germany nor France nor Britain nor Italy, but only in the European Union.

For the United States of America, if it was independent states, it would have been as weak as South America.

The Russian Federation is present, China is a giant, and India is a nuclear state and exists. A billion of ASEAN now is formed in a new country. Latin America may become a union. The Arab States will be divided between Africa, Asia and will disappear, only if the one Arab country or strong African Union is established [can they survive]. Now, whoever does not have the military, economic and security power in a large strong space [bloc], cannot live.

It is not possible to live. Egypt's currency means nothing nor that of Libya, Tunisia or Malawi. What is the value of these currencies? Who knows them? You should have a power expressing a large space such as the euro, or dollar. You should have a military force to stand against big powers otherwise what has happened to Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan will happen to you.

Who of you can defend Egypt? It is not possible. You cannot defend it. Have you got an intercontinental missile, an atomic bomb or an aircraft carrier? Without those, they will trample you as you are watching now.

In Libya, the Libyan people from Benghazi, Tubruq, or in Tripoli or anywhere else, there is no struggle for power, absolutely not, yesterday in the first month we met, we had no problem, we have no problems, we're practicing authority.

The Aggression is foreign, mercenaries made by France, the Arab Maghreb Al-Qaeda who escaped prison or who were expelled from the army. Each one took up arms and fought, not the Libyan people, here are the Libyans in the millions in the streets. In the end, I have 18 million Libyans, whom you call the Libyan tribes or the Arab tribes, who extend from Al-Minya to the desert to the west of Alexandria [in Egypt], forming a crescent until the Nile valley, we did not talk about these tribes during the Abdel Nasser era, they were third degree citizens, they had their own laws, they were Arab sheikhs and Arab tribes and they had their own system since Abdel Nasser, leader of the Arab world wanted to unite it and we did not speak.

During and after the Sadat era and due to our good relations with Hosni Mubarak, in the end we were embarrassed and never talked about them, but now enough! Everything has ended and each one is expressing himself in Egypt, we look at the Tahreer square there are 160 in a coalition, the Muslim brotherhood, libertines, our brother Coptics, nationalists and Egyptians all of them have entered [the coalition], everyone with a religious background has entered, hence the Libyan tribes, which include 18 million until now want to enter the arena, I, naturally, am afraid of them being marginalized again, and we will not accept for them to be third class citizens in Egypt, they cannot even join the army, or join politics or the army, they are marginalized, if Egypt was liberated by the popular revolution, these tribes, who are continuously calling me, should be accounted for, they cannot live marginalized from now on.

This is the era of the masses and each one wants to prove himself, naturally, we've Arab Bedouin tribes who are marginalized in Sinai and they are coherent with us in what's known as the grand Sahara tribes, naturally they tried to link themselves with us, however, I am talking about the Libyan tribes who are known by name, who part of them are in Libya and the other [part] are in Egypt, all of these tribes are an extension of the Libyan people. If Egypt is Egypt and Libya is Libya this matter should be clear, and if we're Arabs and want to be a single nation then this is another thing.

What's before us is an obscure situation, we don't know where are we heading, heading for division, disappearance, failed small states, dying nations then die. I am inviting you to meet with me, you who made the revolution in Egypt and in Tunisia, if it is a popular revolution then the people should seize power through the people's conferences and people's committees, if it were a prey and everyone wants a piece, then it is not a popular revolution! The era of the political parties has ended.

Now, it's the era of the masses, political parties should placed in museums as they are old tools, they are old moulds that cannot accommodate the facts of this era, the era of the masses, the era of the masses is the end of the road in the struggle for the people's authority, for democracy.

Democracy is people sitting on chairs, a Jamahiri system and not governmental, when one says a government in Libya they will laugh at him, this means an "antique", what's the government? Government means one governs and another who is being governed, this has no place in the era of the masses, no masses accept to be governed, they govern themselves.

No one can represent the masses, nor can anyone speak or think on behalf of another, they are there so let them think, talk, discuss and decide on their own in the people's conferences, the only mean to realizedirect popular democracy is the people's conferences [aka popular congresses] and people's committees. However, your people the Libyans are steadfast regardless of the ferocity of the attack, and you're watching, may God bless you.

We know the ordinary Egyptian individual's heart is burning and they are with us, as well as the Tunisians, and the all of the Arab world, we distinguish between rulers and the Arab people, today, we're defending the honor and dignity of the Arab world, and if we surrender, this means an insult to the Arab world. For the sake of Arab dignity, we'll not surrender, we'll die standing.

We're defending Africa, we're the gateway of Africa, we're the shield of Africa, all of Africa is behind us and with us, and the Islamic world is with us and defending Islam in front of the crusade declared by the French president, he said it, "I am leading a new crusade".

This is the second crusade, and I think it's shameful to sit and watch, counting the raids, how many raids and how many died and how many bombs were dropped on Libya. All of this will end, it will end and glory will be with the martyrs and freedom fighters, and for those who defend the Arab world, we're defending the Arab and Islamic worlds and defending the African continent.

I hope everyone would ponder these words, each one who listens and reads it one his own and not with a group, then a group comes and we will discuss it, each one should see whether these words are true or not, without any influence from anyone. I am with you, my beloved Egypt and my beloved Tunisia, I love Egypt and I hope that Egypt would not be ungrateful, and I don't want Egypt to be a failed country, on the contrary, I want it to be a leader country, now it went behind Tunisia and there is no harm, this means the leaders are the Tunisians and you followed them, however, there is no harm, even Tunisia is an Arab country.

I commend the soul of Jamal Abdel Nasser, hero of the Arab world in this day, I commend the Egyptian people. I commend the Egyptian youth, I hope that God may guide them to the path of the popular revolution and the people's authority.

Enemy Fomented Crisis to Breakup Syria

Enemy fomented crisis to break Syria into statelets: Nasrallah

Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:15PM GMT

Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah says the goal of the plot to foment a crisis in Syria is to reduce the country to a series of statelets without a strong central government.

“The objective behind what is happening in Syria is not only to remove Syria from the axis of resistance. One can confidently say that the objective of all those behind the unrest in Syria is to destroy the Syrian state, people, society, and army in order to turn Syria into a failed state that cannot make decisions concerning its oil, gas, and assets,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech in Beirut on Tuesday.

The leader of the Lebanese resistance movement added that certain Arab and Western states are seeking to destroy Syria in order to take control of its resources and weaken its role in the region and the international arena.

“These countries have said that Syria is playing a much bigger role than it should. So they want Syria to become fragile, destroyed, and hungry,” Nasrallah stated.

The Hezbollah secretary general also censured the fatwas issued by a number of clerics concerning attacks on Syrian government workers and soldiers, arguing that such calls would only increase the bloodshed in Syria and complicate the situation on the ground.

He went on to say that there are two different approaches to the Syrian crisis: one pushing for the ouster of the government and the other insisting on dialogue and a political solution to the conflict.

Nasrallah stated that the Syrian opposition is not brave enough to enter into talks with the Syrian government because they are afraid of the potential reaction of the countries fomenting unrest in Syria.

The fact that the conflict in Syria has dragged on for two years shows that the government in Damascus cannot be defeated by military means, he opined.

President Bashar al-Assad’s government cannot be toppled by military aggression, and his allies will prevent such an outcome from ever happening, he added.

“Syria has friends that will not allow it to fall into the hands of the United States, Israel, or takfiri groups [people who believe they are the only true Muslims]. How will they do this? I will explain this later,” he said.

“I say this based on information rather than wishful thinking,” Nasrallah stated.

He also said that the Lebanese state cannot fulfill its duty of defending Lebanese citizens living in towns on the Syrian border.

“We surely will not let the Lebanese in rural al-Quseir be subjected to attacks from armed groups, and if someone wants help to stay in their village, then we will not hesitate to offer this help,” Nasrallah noted.

Defending the Lebanese people in the al-Quseir region did not require authorization from any side, he added.

“This is a moral and humanitarian issue. We are not talking about people from a specific sect but about all Lebanese living in rural al-Quseir,” the Hezbollah leader said.

Nasrallah also dismissed reports claiming that Iranian forces are present in Syria.

Bolivian Court Allows President Morales to Run for Reelection

Court lets Morales run for reelection

Tue Apr 30, 2013 4:59AM GMT

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has received approval from the country’s constitutional court to run for reelection next year.

Bolivia's Constitutional court president Ruddy Flores said on Monday that Morales could run for his third consecutive presidential term.

This is while only two consecutive terms are allowed under the country’s new constitution.

The court found Morales, 53, able to run since the president’s first term was not under the current constitution.

"The presidential term is computed from the time of the adoption of the new constitution," Flores said.

Next year’s vote will be counted as Morales’ first reelection, under the ruling.

The ruling has sparked protests from the opposition.

Earlier this month, Morales said that Washington was planning to stage a coup in Venezuela, following the election of Nicolas Maduro as president.

Morales, the first indigenous president of South America's poorest nation, was elected president in late 2005 and reelected in 2009.

During his years as president, Morales has nationalized private companies aimed at increasing state control over the country’s economy.

He also pushed for the formation of a new constitution.

Partial Vote Audit Underway in Venezuela

Partial vote audit underway in Venezuela

Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:27AM GMT

Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) has started a partial audit of the country’s presidential election's votes, local media reports say.

The auditing, which includes the inspection of some 12,000 ballot boxes in 30 days, began on Monday.

Meanwhile, the opposition has boycotted the auditing process and demanded a full recount of the votes.

On April 14, Nicolas Maduro won the presidential election with 50.7 percent of the vote against 49.1 percent for opposition leader Henrique Capriles, with a difference of around 235,000 ballots.

On April 27, the president of CNE, Tibisay Lucena, said that Capriles had failed to present compelling proof that there were irregularities during the country’s presidential election.

Defeated Capriles said he would challenge the election’s results.

Earlier, Venezuela’s federal prosecutor’s office formally charged Timothy Tracy, an American, with paying political opponents in Venezuela to attend violent post-election protests, which left nine people dead and over 60 others injured.

Prosecutors also arrested retired Venezuelan Brigadier General Antonio Rivero, who is now a senior official with an opposition party, after a recording was found in one of Tracy’s bags, which allegedly shows him advising rioters during clashes with police in the capital of Caracas a day after the election.

On March 8, Maduro became Venezuela’s acting president, following the death of late President Hugo Chavez, who lost a two-year-long battle with cancer on March 5.

Maduro has promised to continue the socialist policies of the former leader.

South Africa's MK Vets Accuse Breakaway Party Member of Being Bitter

MK vets accuse breakaway party member of being bitter

The recent formation of SA First by ANC veterans was because of "sour grapes", says the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans' Association.

30 Apr 2013 12:30 - Genevieve Quintal

Chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe said on Tuesday that some of those who set up the party, SA First, were bitter because they did not make it into the Military Veterans' Association (MKMVA) leadership.

"The enemy has intoxicated them with the taste of a nectar of power. They have been intoxicated to sell our revolution to the highest bidder," he told reporters in Johannesburg.

"Today they want to parade with fake credentials to betray the cause of the struggles of our people."

A new political party, SA First, was launched in Johannesburg at the weekend. It is made up of former MKMVA members, activists and civil society organisations.

Maphatsoe said the party was part of continued attempts by "the enemy" to undermine the liberation struggle.

"It is the wider strategy of the Democratic Alliance and the international monopoly capital to use agent provocateurs such as these ones who use their fake credentials to rewrite the history of liberation struggles of our country," he said.

Enemy was imperialism, not opposition

However, MKMVA deputy chair Teenage Monama said the enemy was imperialism, not opposition parties.

Expelled MKMVA member Eddie Mokhoanatse and former member Lucky Twala started SA First.

Mokhoanatse, who was part of a group who took the MKMVA leadership to court, was expelled last year.

"It is important to note that Eddie Mokhoanatse, aka Alex Mashinini, deserted the ANC in the 1980s," Maphatsoe said.

"While he was deployed in the German Democratic Republic he skipped to the Federal Republic of Germany attracted by the shine of good life and bright life, while the rest of comrades stood firm in their posts."

However, when Mokhoanatse returned to South Africa the MKMVA accepted him into its structures.

"[Mokhoanatse] and his fellow travellers have no right to associate the creation of his power hungry imagination with former combatants of the glorious people's army, Umkhonto we Sizwe," Maphatsoe said.

– Sapa

ANC Says Mandela Visit Was in Line With Ubuntu Values

ANC says Mandela visit was in line with ubuntu values

The ANC has again defended its controversial visit by party leaders to an ailing Nelson Mandela and denied that the visit was a publicity stunt.

30 Apr 2013 12:44 - Staff Reporter

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu released a second statement on Tuesday after being criticised in the media and on social media platforms.

Thousands vented their anger at the highly publicised visit on social media, prompting Mthembu to respond: "The African National Congress has noted the determined efforts by some sections of our society to degrade the visit of the national office bearers to comrade Nelson Mandela. It is indeed unfortunate that such views are expressed by some on social [media] platforms and translated by the media to mean the views of the majority of South African society expressing public outrage."

Mthembu said the visit was in line with the accepted norms of ubuntu. "We value our elderly; we take time to visit them and inform others on their condition. We maintain that president Mandela is a global icon, as the ANC we regard him as a leader of the people and we would want to keep the world informed of his condition. The video footage captured by the South African Broadcasting Corporation achieves this objective.

"It was in the public interest and where appropriate we will continue to update the nation, the continent and the world on the status of our beloved statesman and revolutionary icon," Mthembu said.

The ANC denied that the visit was a publicity stunt aimed at scoring political points and reinforce the ANC's Mandela legacy. "Such should never be used for political opportunism or to mask what we believe is the fear of South Africans to accept that president Mandela is mortal and aged."

Concern was raised in the media that Mandela was anything but in "good spirits", as the ANC claimed. "The African National Congress stands by its statements that president Mandela is in good health and in good spirits. We welcome the words of appreciation and thanks we have received from many, many South Africans expressing their gratitude that the ANC has shared with them rare and precious moments with president Mandela," Mthembu said.

"South Africans are called upon to appreciate that tata is 94 years old; he will thus be frail and not as active and energetic as we all fondly remember him. There is no reason to be alarmed by the visuals of an elderly person who clearly is receiving the necessary care and attention. Our sincere gratitude goes to his medical team and his family for their tireless and thankless care provided to president Mandela."

Britain Cuts Development Aid to South Africa

Britain to cut aid to South Africa in 2015

Britain has announced that it will cut off direct aid to South Africa in 2015, citing its status as Africa's biggest economy.

30 Apr 2013 15:22 - AFP

London currently gives £19-million of bilateral aid a year to Pretoria, down from a peak of more than £40-million in 2003.

Britain said its relationship with South Africa should now be based on trade rather than aid following its transition from apartheid to a "flourishing democracy".

"South Africa has made enormous progress over the past two decades, to the extent that it is now the region's economic powerhouse and Britain's biggest trading partner in Africa," international development secretary Justine Greening was due to tell a conference of African ministers and business leaders in London.

"I have agreed with my South African counterparts that South Africa is now in a position to fund its own development," she was to say.

But Pretoria greeted Tuesday's "unilateral announcement" with thinly veiled anger, warning that South African government relations were at risk.

"This is such a major decision with far reaching implications on the projects that are currently running and it is tantamount to redefining our relationship," the department of international relations and cooperation said in a statement.

"Ordinarily, the UK government should have informed the government of South Africa through official diplomatic channels of their intentions and allowed for proper consultations to take place."

"This unilateral announcement no doubt will affect how our bilateral relations going forward will be conducted."


British Prime Minister David Cameron has repeatedly vowed to protect the 0.7% of national income that it spends on overseas aid from his government's austerity drive.

But in November last year it announced that it would stop all its aid to India in 2015 because of New Delhi's growing economic clout.

Development experts argue that the practise of rich countries sending aid south is a paradigm that has not kept pace with global economic changes.

While many South Africans remain poor, the economy is roughly the size of that of Austria.

Fiscal problems have forced Western countries to take a closer look at how well aid is working.

As African nations turn toward China for economic help, may see a waning impact of projects that may once have driven political or economic reform.

South Africa, although not a major beneficiary of Chinese largesse, has become increasingly close to the Asian power, banking that better trade relations will help ease the pain cause by Europe's prolonged economic downturn.


From 2015 Britain will work with South Africa primarily on development projects elsewhere on the continent, while continuing to provide technical assistance to help reduce poverty within its own borders.

Her ministry said the aid programme would focus on completing projects that are already under way before the funding runs out in 2015.

"These programmes will help three million more people start or expand their own businesses and help reduce the number of women dying in childbirth by more than 10%," the ministry said.

"It is right that our relationship changes to one of mutual cooperation and trade, one that is focused on delivering benefits for the people of Britain and South Africa as well as for Africa as a whole," Greening was due to say.

Britain already works with the South African Revenue Service on an aid project to strengthen tax systems in other countries including Kenya, Angola and South Sudan, her ministry said, as well as a programme helping South Africa's health ministry to share its expertise across the region.


South Africa Slams UK Aid Cut Decision

South Africa slams UK aid cut decision

Wed May 1, 2013 12:49AM GMT

South Africa has criticized the UK government for stopping direct aid to the country after two decades, warning that the move would affect relations between the two states.

The South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation accused Britain of "unilaterally" deciding that the present aid package would cease in 2015.

London currently gives £19 million of bilateral aid a year to Pretoria, compared to a peak of £40 million in 2003.

The UK’s aid programme to South Africa is focused on reducing the mortality rate among women giving birth and supporting businesses.

"This is such a major decision with far-reaching implications on the projects that are currently running, and it is tantamount to redefining our relationship," said Clayson Monyela, spokesman for the South African international relations department.

Speaking at an international conference of business leaders and African ministers in London on Tuesday, British International Development Secretary Justine Greening announced that direct aid to South Africa will end in 2015, citing the country’s status as Africa's biggest economy.

Detroit Residents Being Displaced by Corporate Interests

Detroit Residents Being Displaced by Corporate Interests

Hundreds of working class and poor people are facing eviction

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

A new push is being made by corporations and banks in Detroit to drive even more working class, poor and nationally oppressed people out of the city. This fact is being illustrated by recent developments in the downtown area and its environs where low-income people are being forced to move from several apartment buildings.

In the Cass Corridor, a heavily depressed area that has been neglected by the City government and the business magnates for years is now the apparent focus for the construction of a new sports stadium. The owners of the Detroit Red Wings may be attempting to take control of sections of the Corridor in order to either gentrify the district or engage in “developments” that will not benefit the interests of the current residents.

Residents in three apartment buildings on Henry Street between Cass and Second Avenues received a hand written notice on April 20 saying that they had to move out within thirty days. Another document which appeared to be a “Notice to Quit” was also handed over to the residents.

However, neither of these documents appeared to be validated by 36th District Court where Landlord-Tenant matters are handled. Since the tenants are mostly senior citizens, single parents, people living with disabilities and marginalized workers, the supposedly new owners, who have not come forward to publically claim responsibility for the illegal attempts to evict, feel that they can get away with these blatant acts of disregard for hundreds of people.

All together there are over 200 apartment units spread out between the three buildings. Some of the residents have lived in the buildings for over thirty years while others are newcomers.

One resident told this writer that he had just moved in one month ago. He said that he paid the first month’s rent and a security deposit in addition to purchasing furniture for the apartment.

This resident is now irate that he has been told to move by May 20. He wants to take some legal action to recover his money and obtain resources from the new owners to relocate.

This is the sentiment among other residents as well. A meeting was held on Sunday afternoon April 28 in a vacant lot across the street from the apartments.

The residents are angry and frustrated and are looking for assistance. Members from various organizations including the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs, attended the meeting.

However, since it is not clear who really owns the building now it will take some serious inquiry and political action to uncover those that are responsible. Residents of the apartments have also been told that their electricity, gas and water will be shut-off after May 20 creating even more uncertainty.

The situation in the Cass Corridor is being replicated throughout the central city area. Two other large apartments downtown are also being taken over by new ownership where the residents, who are Section 8 renters, are being ordered to move.

These developments are taking place at a time when the federal government and private industry are not building low-income housing. Detroit, which is now under emergency management at the aegis of the banks, is being exploited at an even deeper level than what has prevailed over the last decade.

The foreclosure and eviction crisis hit the city of Detroit with vengeance beginning in the mid-2000s. The U.S. Census report indicated that approximately 237,000 people left the city during 2000-2010, which is 25 percent of the population.

At present, the City government, although heavily dominated now by pro-corporate surrogates, virtually has no authority in light of the state-imposed Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. As one resident said during the tenants meeting on April 28, “we are basically on our own now.”

Foreclosures Continue Throughout the State

Members of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition traveled to Coldwater, Michigan in the southwest region of the state on April 24 to support the Murray family who are facing foreclosure. The Murrays have been fighting to maintain their home for the last four years and are represented by anti-foreclosure Atty. Vanessa Fluker of Detroit.

The judge in the case ruled against them and ordered the family out of the home within ten days. The Murrays had placed over $40,000 in an escrow account while they exhausted all of their legal options in the case taking it all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court.

In Portage, Michigan, also in the southwest region, the Benthin/Mac family was facing imminent eviction during the week of April 22. As a result of an e-mail and phone campaign, they were able to win a temporary stay of eviction.

Noting the continued problems of home foreclosures, the Moratorium NOW! Coalition called for a demonstration outside the Detroit headquarters of Bank of America on Friday, April 26. Members of Detroit Eviction Defense, the UAW and other groups joined in the protest as well.

On May 20, UAW Local 600, the largest of its kind in the country, will be hosting a public hearing with officials of the banking arm of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Federal Finance Housing Administration.

Homeowners are being encouraged to participate to expose the damage being done by the federal government which is the major player in the foreclosure process at present.

Although hundreds of billions of dollars have been allocated for federal housing programs through TARP and HAMP, most of the funds have not been spent because the banks are refusing to participate in efforts to keep people in their homes. Several agreements between the banks and the Justice Department related to fraud and discrimination have not resulted in a shift in federal housing policy.

Only a mass movement led by working class and nationally oppressed people can lead to the adoption of policies that recognize housing as a fundamental human right. The current phase of capitalist development is resulting in the further impoverishment and marginalization of tens of millions of people throughout the U.S.

France Says Troops Will Stay in Mali Even After UN Forces Arrive

France Says Troops Will Stay in Mali Even After United Nations Forces Arrive

Paris has been re-occupying the West African state since January

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has visited the West African state of Mali where his troops have been fighting since January. France intervened in the central and northern regions of Mali in a purported campaign to remove the presence of several Islamic organizations which have been designated as terrorists by Paris and other imperialist states.

Recently the United Nations Security Council authorized the deployment of approximately 12, 500 peacekeeping troops which will establish bases at various points in these contested areas of Mali. This UN force is also structured to take the place of a 6,000-person regional African force which has been fighting alongside the French troops against three armed Islamist groups in the north.

Although Francois Hollande’s government said in January that the French operation in Mali would be short-lived, the plans have now been revised. France claims that it has drawn down some its troops leaving 4,000 in the country.

According to reports from the French defense ministry at least 1,000 troops will remain in Mali until the end of the year. 250 of these soldiers are specifically slated to be involved in a training mission with the Malian army, while the other 750 are to continue combat operations.

A major area of the fighting has been in Gao where the French Defense Minister Le Drian visited. The official announced that several hundred troops would be transferred from Timbuktu to Gao, leaving only 20 behind in the ancient city which centuries-ago was a center of Islamic scholarship and international trade.

In addition to the presence of French soldiers, a contingent of troops from neighboring Burkina Faso is operating in Timbuktu. These Burkinabe soldiers are part of the West African regional force mobilized by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

According to French Colonel Cyrille Zimmer, the Burkinabe troops are taking over control of military operations in Timbuktu. He said that "We are leaving a small detachment of 20 men who are going to operate with the Burkinabe battalion. This detachment is going to stay in Timbuktu while the Burkinabes are there." (Associated Press, April 29)

There have also been efforts to draw more western states into the war in Mali. Germany has committed to supplying military trainers through the European Union.

The United States has been involved in Mali for many years with the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) supplying training, equipment and monetary resources. However, these efforts have only created instability inside the country.

When the junior military officers seized power in March 2012 from the elected President Amadou Toumani Toure, these soldiers were led by a U.S.-trained colonel, Amadou Sanogo, who had studied in several academies set up by the Pentagon. The Pentagon has been transporting French troops into the battle in Mali and has recently deployed 100 Special Forces in neighboring Niger in addition to establishing a drone station there.

There has also been a call made by Michael Byers, Chair of Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia in Canada, to have Ottawa become more involved in the Malian crisis. Byers in an editorial published in the Globe and Mail, Canada’s leading newspaper, attempted to make an argument for the deployment of troops to Mali.

Byers wrote on April 29 that “Canadian soldiers would be highly valued as ‘force-multipliers’ who maximize the impact of other, less well-trained troops. For nearly half a century, Canada filled this niche in every UN peacekeeping mission.”

He continued saying “Although Canada has disengaged from peacekeeping in recent years, that shift was a political decision. When Canada’s military leaders sought to have General Andrew Leslie appointed commander of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo in 2010, it was the Harper government that intervened and claimed that Canada’s commitments to the NATO mission in Afghanistan precluded his taking part.”

Therefore, the priority of the Harper government was to engage in more direct occupation efforts in Afghanistan as opposed to what would be considered a neutral stance in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nonetheless, the UN forces being placed in Mali could very well be subjected to hostile fire and other military actions by locals.

This peacekeeping mission will have three obvious challenges. It will be operating as a supposed neutral force while at the same time French and Malian troops are continuing their offensive operations against Ansar Dine, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Also there is a growing degree of alienation on the part of the Malian people in relationship to both French troops and Malian soldiers. These soldiers have been accused of committing atrocities against the population where deaths, injuries and illegal detentions have taken place.

Humanitarian Situation Worsens in Mali

As a result of the military coup and the subsequent civil war in the north between Tuareg separatists and later Islamic rebel groups fighting against the national Malian army, large-scale displacements have taken place. The economic impact of the conflict has been devastating to those that have forced to flee as well as people remaining in their towns and villages.

Food prices have skyrocketed which has impacted working people and the poor. In a recent article published in the Guardian newspaper in London, it examines the growing food shortages in Mali where French troops have been the most active against the targeted rebel organizations.

According to the Guardian, “On Thursday (April 25) four international agencies warned that northern Mali will descend to emergency levels of food insecurity in less than two months if conditions do not improve. Recent food crises in the region have left many people weakened and still in a period of recovery.” (April 29)

Even the Guardian acknowledges that the French intervention has worsened conditions for people living in the combat areas. In addition to cutting off supply lines it has created shortages and therefore precipitated hyperinflation.

This same article goes on to point out that “Food distribution has been disrupted by the closure of the Algerian border – an important route for supplies into northern Mali – and the departure of many traders. Aid agencies say herders have been unable to use traditional pastures and water points, while the falling value of livestock has made it harder to buy cereals.”

With the intervention of UN peacekeepers there is still no guarantee that the situation will normalize. If the experiences of other states are of any indication, such as the DRC, Somalia and Sudan, the deployment of UN forces may very well exacerbate tensions as oppose to lessen them.

The situation in Mali requires a political solution that can only be reached between the varying parties, governments and interest groups involved. This issue portends much for the future of Africa and must be seriously addressed by the African Union (AU) at their upcoming summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

With the increasing intervention of U.S., French and other NATO military forces in Africa, the social, political and economic situations in various African states will inevitably worsen. African states and regional organizations must devise a strategy to deal with this escalation of imperialist militarism which has implications for the continent as a whole.

Pan-African Journal: New York City Version Broadcast Over CPRMetro.org for April 29, 2013

For Immediate Release

Media Advisory
April 30, 2013

Pan-African Journal: New York City Version Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe Focuses on Zimbabwe, Malawi, the Sudans, Mali and Syria

To listen to the Pan-African Journal broadcast over CPRMetro.org and hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, just click on the website below:

This week's edition of the Pan-African Journal that was broadcast over CPRMetro.org in New York City began with a report on the recent state visit of Malawian President Joyce Banda to the Southern African nation of Zimbabwe. Banda was in Zimbabwe to open up the International Trade Fair in the city of Bulawayo.

In the Republic of South Sudan reports indicate that rebels from the South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) have accepted an amnesty offer from Juba. Thousands of fighters are said to be turning in their weapons.

French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has visited the Malian city of Gao where he announced that despite the deployment of 12,500 United Nations peacekeeping troops, Paris will keep at least 1,000 soldiers in the former colony to engage in training for the Malian army and to battle so-called Islamic militants. France has been in Mali since January creating a greater degree of instability in the mineral-rich West African state.

Finally, the U.S. and its allies have escalated their provocations against the Middle Eastern nation of Syria. The government of President Bashar al-Assad has been fighting against western-backed rebels for over two years.

US, France in Mali to Grab Resources, Not Because of Al Qaeda

US, France in Mali to grab resources, not because of Al Qaeda

Tuesday, 30 April 2013 00:00
Bruce Dixon

On March 15, former General and Africom commander Carter F Ham testified before the House Armed Services Committee that the situation in the West African republic of Mali is, along with that in Nigeria and Somalia, “a direct threat to the national security of the United States.”

In plain language, claiming a direct threat to US national security is the standard justification for murderous military intervention around the world, and Mali has just been added to the hit list.

Echoing official sources like General Ham, corporate media tell us that Al Qaeda and related Islamist forces, flush with weapons from the recent conflict in Libya, are poised to overrun Mali. Should we believe them?

Aren’t they the same folks who once assured us Saddam, and nowadays Iran, have nuclear weapons? Of course they are, and the real reasons for US intervention are something else entirely.

Since the Clinton administration, the US has provided military aid, weapons and training to 52 out of 54 African nations, ensuring that Africa, the motherland of humanity, remains the poorest and most war-torn region on earth.

The US is in Africa to lock down its resources, Africa’s energy, water, minerals, timber, agriculture, and biodiversity for the Western corporate elite. Strong African civil societies are, in the view of the US and its allies, bad for business, because they would mean Africans controlling their own energy, water, minerals, timber, agriculture and biodiversity.

Al Qaeda, the Islamists and Tuareg rebels aren’t the big problem in Mali. The big problem is that Mali’s so-called democratic government discredited itself by evicting tens of thousands of farmers and their villages to grant foreign concerns long term leases on vast tracts of prime farmland and water, so Malians didn’t much care when it was swept aside by another government committed to the same policies, and seem in no rush to defend that regime either.

So the US stepped in, and is currently airlifting, supplying, feeding and providing gasoline to a French mechanised infantry battalion in Mali to make sure foreigners keep that Malian land and water.

The largest of the predatory land grabs in Mali is called Malibya, that’s M as in mother, A as in apple Libya, Google it for yourself.

Malibya was a deal signed with the Gaddafi government to ensure Libya’s food security with a long term lease of 240 square kilometres of Malian territory for a vast GMO rice and cattle plantation, irrigated by a 40 square kilometre canal that would drain vast quantities of water from the Niger River. Libya produces vast amounts of oil but little food.

Now that the US and their junior partners, the French, have re-established control over Libyan oil, they need Mali’s water and agriculture to make their neo-colonial contraption sustainable, even if Malians and the tens of millions downriver in other countries suffer.

The Pentagon, and its local tentacle AFRICOM, also require Mali for drone, mercenary and special ops bases that can directly penetrate the dozen or so African states west of Nigeria.

Some of the forces of Malian civil society, such as Malian farmers were present at the recent World Social Forum last month in Tunisia. Western corporate media however, is uninterested in reporting their stories, and despite its highly visible and self-celebrating African American political class, there exists no effective constituency for Africa in the US.

— www.blackagenda.org

Bruce Dixon is based in Atlanta GA and is managing editor at Black Agenda Report.

The Cuban Five and Uncle Sam's Brutality

The Cuban five and Uncle Sam’s brutality

Tuesday, 30 April 2013 00:00
Saul Landaus

In their 54-year-old effort to bring down Cuba’s revolutionary government and restore obedience in our Caribbean neighbour, US officials have compiled a spectacular record of failure, overshadowed only by the determination to persist in their pursuit of wrong-headed polices, further damaging US interests.

In the 1990s, Washington began to define terrorism as the new peril on the security horizon.

Bill Clinton deemed it reasonable to make informal arrangements with other countries, even Cuba, trying to achieve anti-terrorist goals.

Indeed, Cuban intelligence agencies fed anti-terrorist data to the FBI because they assumed the Bureau shared the same dread as their US counterparts about the death and chaos that would result from allowing terrorists to pursue their goals.

But, in September 1998, the FBI Bureau Chef in Miami perpetrated an act of security illogic.

He ordered his FBI agents to arrest the Cuban intelligence agents who had supplied the Bureau with important data about terrorists operating in Florida.

Havana had sent these men to south Florida to penetrate and stop violent Cuban exile groups whose members had planted bombs in Cuban tourist hotels and clubs, killing a tourist and wounding scores of others.

US authorities knew of the activities the Cuban agents pursued for six years, and did not act against them because the US government did not see these agents as a threat to US security.

They were not seeking classified or strategic US documents, but rather focused on spying on right-wing Cuban terrorists in US soil.

Indeed, the Cuban agents pointed the Bureau in the direction of hidden arms caches in Miami and an explosive-laden boat docked on the Miami River.

In June 1998, when relations between Cuba and the US had begun to improve, Havana shared with the Justice Department even more information obtained by its agents. But, Clinton also confronted Congressional investigations related to his comportment with Monica Lewinsky.

This helped lead to disarray inside the Justice department. During July and August 1998, right wing Cuban American Members of Congress began pressuring Washington to arrest the known Cuban agents.

The extremist exiles feared that anti-terrorist cooperation between the two countries might lead to the arrest of the exile terrorists, also their friends and colleagues, and even contribute to a normalization of relations.

But Attorney-General Janet Reno planned to run for high office in Florida and did not want to antagonise organized Cuban voters in Florida, so she allowed the change in policy to take place.

The right wing exiles exercised enough influence to get Héctor Pesquera appointed as the new Bureau chief in south Florida.

Pesquera, a rightwing Puerto Rican with a mediocre FBI record, but close ties to violent Cuban exiles, destroyed the country-to-country co-operative effort. Within a week of his appointment, he ordered the arrest of the Cuban informants — five of the Cuban agents refused to either flee to Cuba or arrange for a plea bargain.

So, the FBI allowed Miami-based exile terrorists to continue plotting violence against the island.

The powerful members of the Cuban settler colony in Miami used the power of the US federal police to prosecute Cuban anti-terrorist agents (punish Cuba) and in the process torpedo possible rapprochement between the neighbours; and also destroy joint anti-terrorism operations.

By manipulating US government institutions, the Cuban enclave’s elite superseded the larger needs of the American people by replacing anti-terrorism with their own narrow interests.

The Justice Department charged two of the Five Cuban agents with murder, or conspiracy to shoot down two Cuban exile planes (both pilots and co-pilots died) that entered Cuban air space in February 1996.

At the time the pilots of the three exile planes announced publicly their intention to go into Cuban airspace, making known the date and time of the flights.

The Cuban agents, however, got charged with conspiracy to spy despite the fact that the US government formally and by consent received the results of their spy work on terrorism in south Florida!

General James Clapper, then director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and now director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, testified at their trial that he saw no evidence to conclude the Cuban agents were seeking classified or strategic US documents or plans.

They did not conspire to commit espionage.

The US mass media continues to incorrectly refer to them as “convicted spies.”

— www.counterpunch.org

Australia's Boom Is Anything But For Its Aboriginal People

Australia’s boom is anything but for its Aboriginal people

Tuesday, 30 April 2013 00:00
John Pilger

ELEVEN miles by ferry from Perth is Western Australia’s “premier tourist destination”.

This is Rottnest Island, whose scabrous wild beauty and isolation evoked, for me, Robben Island in South Africa.

Empires are never short of devil’s islands; what makes Rottnest different — indeed, what makes Australia different — is silence and denial on an epic scale.

“Five awesome reasons to visit!” the brochure says. These range from “family fun” to “historical Rottnest”.

The island is described as “a guiding light, a defender of the peace”. In eight pages of prescribed family fun, there is just one word of truth — prison.

More than any other colonial society, Australia consigns its dirtiest secrets, past and present, to wilful ignorance or indifference.

When I was at school in Sydney, standard texts all but dismissed the most enduring human entity on earth, the indigenous first Australians.

“It was quite useless to treat them fairly,” the historian Stephen Roberts wrote, “since they were completely amoral and incapable of sincere and prolonged gratitude.”

His acclaimed colleague Russel Ward was succinct: “We are civilised today and they are not.”

That Australia has since changed is not disputed. To measure this change, a visit to Western Australia is essential.

The vast state — our richest — is home to the world’s biggest resources boom: iron ore, gold, nickel, oil, petroleum, gas.

Profits are in the multiple billions. When the former Labour prime minister Kevin Rudd tried to impose a modest tax, he was overthrown by his own party following a A$22m (£14.6m) propaganda campaign by the mining companies, whose mates in the media uphold the world’s first Murdocracy.

“Assisted by Rio Tinto” reads the last line of an unctuous newspaper article on the boom’s benefits to black Australians.

At airports passengers are greeted by banners with pictures of smiling Aboriginal faces in hard hats, promoting the plunderers of their land. “This is our story,” says the slogan. It isn’t.

Barely a fraction of mining, oil and gas revenue has benefited Aboriginal communities, whose poverty is an enduring shock.

In Roebourne, in the mineral-rich Pilbara, 80 percent of the children suffer from an ear infection called otitis media, which can cause partial deafness. Or they go blind from preventable trachoma. Or they either die from Dickensian infections.

That is their story.

The Nyoongar people have lived around what is now Perth for many thousands of years. Incredibly, they survive.

Noel Nannup, a Nyoongar elder, and Marianne McKay, a Nyoongar activist, accompanied me to Rottnest.

Nannup’s protective presence was important to McKay. Unlike the jolly tourists heading for “Rotto”, they spent days “preparing for the pain”.

“All our families remember what was done,” said Noel Nannup.

What was done was the starving, torture, humiliation and murder of the first Australians.

Wrenched from their communities in an act of genocide that divided and emasculated the indigenous nations, shackled men and boys as young as eight endured the perilous nine-hour journey in an open longboat.

Terrified prisoners were jammed into a windowless “holding cell”, like an oversized kennel. Today, a historical plaque refers to it as “the Boathouse”. The suppression is breathtaking.

In the prison known as the Quod as many as 167 Aboriginal prisoners were locked in 28 tiny cells.

This lasted well into the 20th century. The prison is now called Rottnest Lodge.

It has a spa, and there are double bunks for children: family fun.

I booked a room.

Noel Nannup stood in the centre of the room and described its echoes of terrible suffering.

The window looked out on to where a gallows had stood, where tourists now sunbathed.

None had a clue.

A “country club” overlooks a mass grave.

One psychopath who ran the Quod was Henry Vincent. He liked to whip prisoners and murdered two of them, an inquiry was told.

Today, Vincent is venerated as a “pioneer”, and tourists are encouraged to follow the “Vincent Way heritage trail”.

In the Governor’s Bar, the annual Henry Vincent golf trophy is displayed. No one there had a clue.

Rotto is not the past.

On March 28 Richard Harding, formerly inspector of custodial services, declared Western Australia a “state of imprisonment”.
During the boom Aboriginal incarceration has more than doubled.

Interned in rat-infested cells, almost 60 percent of the state’s young prisoners are Aboriginal — out of 2,5 percent of the population. They include children.

A former prisons minister, Margaret Quirk, told me the state was now “racking and stacking” black Australians.

Their rate of incarceration is five times that of black people in apartheid South Africa.

Black Australians are stereotyped as violent, yet the violence routinely meted out to them by authority is of little interest.

An elder known as Mr Ward was arrested for driving under the influence on a bush road.
In searing heat, he was driven more than 300 miles in the iron pod of a prison van run by the British security company GSL.

Inside, the temperature reached 50ºC. Mr Ward cooked to death, his stomach burned raw where he had collapsed on the van’s scorching floor.

The coroner called it a “disgrace”, but no one was prosecuted.

No one ever is.

Eco-tourism is also booming. The Kimberley region is popular with Europeans.

Last year, 40 Aboriginal youngsters killed themselves there, a 100-fold increase.
When I first reported on indigenous Australia a generation ago, black suicide was rare.

Today, the despair is so profound that the second cause of Aboriginal death is suicide.
It is booming.


Zimbabwe Vice-President in Dubai for Africa Global Forum

Latest:VP Mujuru in Dubai for Africa Global Forum

Monday, 29 April 2013 13:33
Morris Mkwate in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Zimbabwe Herald

Vice-President Mujuru arrived here this morning to attend the Africa Global Business Forum while also reciprocating a visit by Ras Al Khaimah ruler Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi who was in Zimbabwe two months ago to explore investment opportunities.

She was received at the Dubai International Airport by Zimbabwe’s chief diplomat to Kuwait, Ambassador Mark Grey Marongwe.

Cde Mujuru is expected to attend a luncheon hosted by Sheikh Saud this afternoon. She is also scheduled to hold bilateral discussions with the Ras Al Khaimah leader following the signing of six sector-specific Memoranda of Understanding during his visit to Harare in February.

The MoUs cover mining, agriculture, tourism, industry and commerce, health and energy.

The Vice-President will present a paper at the business forum, which seeks to highlight investment opportunities in Africa and Dubai’s strategic link between the continent and other economies.

The forum begins on Wednesday.

VP Mujuru, Emirate leader discuss MOUs

Tuesday, 30 April 2013 00:00
Morris Mkwate in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates

Vice-President Mujuru met Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) ruler Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi at the Al Dhait Palace here yesterday to clarify on areas of co-operation that require urgent implementation under the six sector-specific Memoranda of Understanding signed between Zimbabwe and the emirate in February.

Speaking to journalists after the closed-door meeting, Cde Mujuru said Sheikh Saud sought to understand key objectives Zimbabwe has tied to the identified areas.

The two leaders are expected to conclude deliberations today after which the polished components of the MoUs and the implementation timeframe would be made known. Mining, health, tourism, industry and commerce, energy and agriculture are the sectors earmarked for collaboration.

“This one (meeting) was to try and polish up on other things that we wanted him to really have a clear understanding on as to what exactly we want to do; where we want quick-wins and what we want done between his government and ours,” said Cde Mujuru.

“He came with certain issues hanging; issues that he wanted clarified by us. So, since I am in this region I thought it would be better for me to pass by and explain those things.”

In February, Zimbabwe and Ras Al Khaimah signed MoUs that cleared the way for business relations between their economies following a visit to Harare by Sheikh Saud.

Vice-President Mujuru urged the emirate to take advantage of investment opportunities in the Southern African state while the RAK leader emphasised that partnerships were critical to success.

As part of the on-going efforts to identify specific points of co-operation, Cde Mujuru yesterday toured Julphar Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries, one of the largest drug manufacturing plants in the Middle East.

The firm is the fourth biggest producer of insulin globally and boasts of 211 product brands distributed across more than 30 countries.

Cde Mujuru also visited the world’s largest ceramic tile manufacturing company, RAK Ceramics.

Regarding pharmaceuticals, she said Government would continue advocating partnerships across the business sectors of the two nations.

“It is friendship that we have come to look for. We are trying to twin businesspeople from Ras Al Khaimah and Zimbabwe so that they work together and exchange ideas.

“I hope our team will learn a lot from the visit. We want to see areas of co-operation between Zimbabwe and Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries. We are open-minded; I hope this visit will be followed by visits to Zimbabwe.

“This is one of the areas that are very important in our country. Hence, we would want to see how they can come back and work with the Government of Zimbabwe, the private sector and pharmaceutical companies.”

Vice-President Mujuru is in the United Arab Emirates to attend the Africa Global Business Forum and to reciprocate Sheikh Saud’s visit.

She is expected to present a paper at the business forum which opens tomorrow. More than 2 000 policy-makers and business leaders drawn from Africa, Asia and Europe are scheduled to attend the meeting.