Posted: February 24, 2013 | Author: JJ Lopez aka Minkoff Minx | Filed under: Afghanistan, Africa, Diplomacy Nightmares, DR Congo, Foreign Affairs, Fox News, health, Iran, Ivory Coast, morning reads, Political Affective Disorder, Sudan, Uganda | Tags: Academy Awards, Africa, ammo, Brazil, film, guns, Keira Rathbone, leprosy, obsolete technology, weapons trafficking |
Well, after having a good evening, watching a couple of Italian films last night, Life is Beautiful and Miracle on Madonna Street, I have a few links for you this morning.
The New York Post has an article about the battles being fought in Africa: A Trail of Bullet Casings Leads From Africa’s Wars to Iran
The first clues appeared in Kenya, Uganda and what is now South Sudan. A British arms researcher surveying ammunition used by government forces and civilian militias in 2006 found Kalashnikov rifle cartridges he had not seen before. The ammunition bore no factory code, suggesting that its manufacturer hoped to avoid detection.
Within two years other researchers were finding identical cartridges circulating through the ethnic violence in Darfur. Similar ammunition then turned up in 2009 in a stadium in Conakry, Guinea, where soldiers had fired on antigovernment protesters, killing more than 150.
For six years, a group of independent arms-trafficking researchers worked to pin down the source of the mystery cartridges. Exchanging information from four continents, they concluded that someone had been quietly funneling rifle and machine-gun ammunition into regions of protracted conflict, and had managed to elude exposure for years. Their only goal was to solve the mystery, not implicate any specific nation.
When the investigators’ breakthrough came, it carried a surprise. The manufacturer was not one of Africa’s usual suspects. It was Iran.
Read the rest at the link, it is a long article.
In other news, this time out of Brazil: Fast New Test Could Find Leprosy Before Damage Is Lasting
A simple, fast and inexpensive new test for leprosy offers hope that, even in the poorest countries, victims can be found and cured before they become permanently disabled or disfigured like the shunned lepers of yore.
American researchers developed the test, and Brazil’s drug-regulatory agency registered it last month. A Brazilian diagnostics company, OrangeLife, will manufacture it on the understanding that the price will be $1 or less.
“This will bring leprosy management out of the Dark Ages,” said Dr. William Levis, who has treated leprosy patients at a Bellevue Hospital outpatient clinic for 30 years.
Even more important, he said, it is expected to detect infections as much as a year before symptoms appear. And the earlier treatment begins, the better the outcome. Leprosy is caused by a bacterium, Mycobacterium leprae, related to the one that causes tuberculosis, but reproducing so slowly that symptoms often take seven years to appear.
This new test requires just a drop of blood and the results are given after only ten minutes.
The disease has historically been hard to diagnose, despite the popular, but inaccurate, image of fingers and toes dropping off victims. As the bacteria kill nerves, muscles atrophy and those digits curl into claws. After disuse and repeated injuries, the body reacts protectively by absorbing the bone calcium in the bones, shrinking the digits.
For centuries, some observant doctors have noticed early signs: the numb skin patches, missing eyebrows, drooping earlobes, bulging neck nerves, the flat “lion face” caused by nasal cartilage dissolving.
Since nothing could be done for them before the age of antibiotics, victims lost the use of their hands and had to beg. Some also went blind as the blinking muscles degenerated and their eyes dried out. In the Middle Ages, some towns banned lepers, while others required them to ring bells to warn of their approach. Religious charities created “leper colonies.”
And they still exist, even in the United States. A few elderly residents have chosen to stay on in Carville, La., and Kalaupapa, Hawaii, despite having been cured. Several thousand live at one in northeast Brazil, said John S. Spencer, a leprosy researcher at Colorado State University who has worked there. “People say things like ‘People outside won’t understand what’s wrong with my face,’ ” he said.
Nowadays, he said, most patients are cured before their faces are severely disfigured. Still, he said, he had read a survey in which health experts asked Brazilians whether they would rather have the human immunodeficiency virus or leprosy. Most chose H.I.V. — even though leprosy does not kill, can be cured, and does not make a victim risky to have sex with. “The stigma is that strong,” he said.
Wow. Dr Lewis says he hopes the Brazilian test becomes available in the US so he can test the families of his patients. It takes many antibiotics given over 6 months to a year to cure the disease…these new test provide doctors with more time to could help diagnosis leprosy before permanent nerve damage is done.
I guess my PAD is getting the best of me, I just don’t have the energy to give you more than these…and instead of posting links to more of the same news, give a look at some of the artsy reads below.
With the Academy Awards later tonight, I have two links about film and films.
Two films on Israeli occupation in Oscar race
Hollywood is getting ready to hand out the industry’s most prestigious film awards: the Oscars.
Among the contenders for best documentary is a film directed by an Israeli, and another by a Palestinian.
Both the Israeli The Gatekeepers and Palestinian 5 Broken Cameras tell the same story, but from two quite different perspectives.
Video at the link, and…
For more of Al Jazeera’s extended interviews with Dror Moreh, the director of The Gatekeepers, and Emad Burnat, director of 5 Broken Cameras, click here. Q&A: Dror Moreh and Emad Burnat
Film is finished – this could be its last Oscars
Digital is taking over Hollywood, but celluloid’s fans intend to fight on
They are some of the most powerful people in one of the most powerful entertainment industries in the world. And when Hollywood’s grandest gather at tonight’s Oscars there will be no end of smiles and handshakes. But they are also fans, and like all fans, they are given to apparently arcane squabbles. The latest is whether films should be shot on, well, film.
Some of the most successful directors, such as James Cameron and George Lucas, are so obsessed with having the best special effects that they have spent millions embracing computer-generated imagery and abandoned 35mm film. Others, such as Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan, are wedded to traditional celluloid, which is becoming the film equivalent of the vinyl record.
Epics such as Les Misérables and Lincoln – both shot on 35mm – and digital creations such as Life of Pi have all made millions at the box office. While film buffs may talk about the “feel” of film, with all its subtleties, the reality is that pixilated perfection is winning – the whirring of 35mm film projectors silenced by the hum of digital machines.
Just take a look at the films nominated for best picture:
Although many love a sharp, digital picture with high definition, others prefer something a bit less “real”. The split among directors is highlighted in the nominations for Best Picture. Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln were shot on film. While Argo, Amour, Life of Pi and Zero Dark Thirty were shot on digital. As was The Hobbit nominated in three technical Oscar categories.
David O Russell, director of Silver Linings Playbook, said: “Maybe I’m old-fashioned, maybe I’m superstitious, maybe I’m romantic – I love film and it has a magic quality, it has a warmth. I may use digital cameras in a pinch because they are small and fast but I like film for its humaneness.” He is one of a number of directors determined to continue shooting on 35mm. Another is Nolan, who made the Dark Knight trilogy: “I am now constantly asked to justify why I want to shoot a film on film,” he said. Nolan likens digital to an “amazing” cookie until you realise “this is some horrible chemical crap that’s giving you this bad illusion that fools you at first.”
You can read more about what actors, cinematographers and directors think about digital vs film at the link up top. I tend to agree with the folks who love film…and think that digital sucks.
Another archaic form of technology that gets lost in this day in age is the typewriter. Take this woman’s use of the typewriter:
Keira Rathbone’s Incredible Typewriter Art
As romantic as the idea of working on a typewriter now seems, in reality they’re rather clunky and temperamental things. Writing with one would probably take us an age – and if we made a mistake? Well, forget it.
So imagine trying to draw with one.
London based artist Keira Rathbone, originally from Dorset, does exactly that; clustering together marks made by letters, numbers and symbols, to make brilliant, one-off images.
Keira Rathbone Makes Art At The Stroke Of A Key (PHOTOS)
The English artist clusters letters, numbers and symbols from a typewriter keyboard to composite images; from portraits of friends and celebrities to landscapes and still life. A closer look at what looks like a sketch of Wimborne Minster, a church in East Dorset, England, reveals swirls of ampersands and the ticks of quotations marks.
Watch the video below to see the artist at work, and click through the slideshow to see examples of her typewriter art. Visit keirarathbone.com for more examples of her work.
Be sure to take a look at the pictures, Rathone’s art is impressive…
Another obsolete form of technology is shown below…Keypunch Orchestra: 1937 | Shorpy Historical Photo Archive
June 1937. “Baltimore, Maryland. For every Social Security account number issued an ’employee master card’ is made in the Social Security board records office. Testifying data, given on the application blank form SS-5, is transferred to this master card in the form of upended quadrangular holes, punched by key punch machines, which have a keyboard like a typewriter. Each key struck by an operator causes a hole to be punched in the card. The position of a hole determines the letter or number other machines will reproduce from the master card. From this master card is made an actuarial card, to be used later for statistical purposes. The master card also is used in other machines which sort them numerically, according to account numbers, alphabetically according to the name code, translate the holes into numbers and letters, and print the data on individual ledger sheets, indexes, registry of accounts and other uses. The photograph above shows records office workers punching master cards on key punch machines.” Whew. Longest caption ever? Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative.
That is all I have for you this morning. Hope you all enjoy your Sunday, see ya later on tonight…should be quite a show.
So what are you all reading and blogging about today?
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Posted: October 30, 2011 | Author: JJ Lopez aka Minkoff Minx | Filed under: Africa, DR Congo, Feminists, Foreign Affairs, Kenya, Media, morning reads, religion, Russia, Somalia, Tunisia, Uganda, Violence against women |
Minx here, and since the last few days have been a living hell, this Sunday Reads are going to have lots of links…but not too much commentary. After suffering through a migraine, the brain takes a bit to re-boot. It is frustrating to try to get your thoughts straight…so if the post is off, you know why!
For most of you it is a cold white morning, in fact this October Snow is the earliest to hit NYC since the Civil War. Snow storm hits many parts of north-eastern United States | Weather | guardian.co.uk
Huge swathes of the north-eastern United States have been hit by a rare October snow storm that struck across the region from Virginia all the way to Maine.
Dubbed “Snowtober” by news organisations covering the unusually early winter storm, the massive weather formation dumped up to 30cm (one foot) of snow in parts of the country that rarely see it this early in the year. Some estimates put the number of people affected by the unseasonal weather at around 60 million.
It sometimes shocks me when I spend a few days out of it with a migraine…and miss so much. If any one missed the great post from Wonk, Quixote, Peggy Sue, Dak and Boston Boomer…check them out!
Moving from cold October snow to an update on Kenya’s fight in Somalia. Kenya to Stay in Somalia Until Safe From Al-Shabab Menace | Africa | English
General Julius Karangi, Kenyan (CDF) Chief of the Defense Force, speaks to journalists at a military press briefing in Nairobi. Kenya, October 29, 2011.
Kenya’s Defense Ministry says it has not set a time frame for its operation against al-Shabab militants in Somalia, saying troops will leave the country when Kenyans feel secure. Kenyan officials emphasized that they are not at war with Somalia, but with al-Shabab.
Kenya’s military chief, General Julius Karangi, told reporters Saturday that Kenya’s military will continue its assault in Somalia until Kenyans feel safe from what he called “the al-Shabab menace.”
“This campaign is not time bound, we shall leave it to the people of this country to decide that yes, we feel safe enough on the common border and then we shall come back. So key factors or indicators would be in the form of a highly degraded al-Shabab capacity,” he said.
The military says it has killed hundreds of al-Shabab militants in 15 days of fighting, while only one Kenyan soldier has been killed in battle.
Meanwhile, as the US sends troops to Uganda…this little bit of news from Oklahoma was reported by Al Jazeera.
US court dismisses lawsuit against Kagame – Americas – Al Jazeera English
A federal court in the state of Oklahoma has dismissed a lawsuit against Rwandan President Paul Kagame, brought by the widows of two assassinated African presidents, ruling that he had immunity in the US.
District Judge Lee West ruled on Friday that as a head of state recognised by the US government, Kagame was immune from the wrongful death civil suit. The Obama administration had urged the court to recognise Kagame’s immunity.
Juvenal Habyarimana, then president of Rwanda, and Cyprien Ntaryamira, president of neighbouring Burundi, were killed in a rocket attack on their plane at Kigali airport in 1994.
The attack triggered the Rwandan genocide, in which Hutu armed groups and soldiers killed 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
The widows had sought $350m in damages, arguing that Kagame, leader of the Tutsi rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, had ordered the assassination of their Hutu husbands.
There is also some distressing news out of DR Congo: Congo’s militias mobilising again, leading peace activist warns | World news | The Observer
One of Congo’s leading peacemakers, Henri Ladyi – who has been called “Africa‘s Schindler” for his work rehabilitating child soldiers in the republic’s eastern region – said he feared years of hard work in demobilising militia members, especially child soldiers, was being undone. They were being pulled back into the bush to get ready for a fresh conflict, eight years after the formal end of Africa’s largest war, which killed 5 million people
He said chiefs of the Mai Mai – the name given to the vicious gangs who roamed eastern Congo, some politically motivated, others defending territory and stealing cattle – were preparing for clashes as they believed Congo’s president, Joseph Kabila, was cooperating with the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, to organise wide-scale election fraud. Government efforts to disarm the militias, whose numbers have dwindled in recent years, were undermined by the fact that no proper peace and reconciliation process was followed, said Ladyi.
“We should have learned from every other African country – Liberia, South Africa, Rwanda – who put in place a reconciliation process after conflict. We did not succeed in DRC, and these leaders who are in power also don’t admit what their role was, so people do not trust them.
“There is no forgiveness in communities: people live alongside each other, shop in the same market, but with hatred still. We will not have peace in DRC until we have reconciliation. I fear instead we will have more war.”
In Tunisia, Democracy is being to take hold, this next op/ed from Monica Marks, a doctoral student in Middle Eastern Studies at Oxford University, discusses the idea Can Islamism and Feminism Mix? – NYTimes.com
A small but increasingly vocal minority of secular Tunisians are predicting that an Islamist-dominated national assembly will reverse key pieces of civil rights legislation, including those recognizing the right to abortion and prohibiting polygamy.
Tunisia’s secular feminists, many of whom are urban admirers of French-style secularism, see Ennahda women as unwitting agents of their own domination. Although Ennahda openly supports Tunisia’s 1956 Code of Personal Status — arguably the most progressive piece of women’s rights legislation in the Arab world — its critics accuse the party as a whole of purveying a “double discourse,” adopting a soft, tolerant line when speaking to francophone secularists but preaching a rabidly conservative message when addressing its rural base.
Rather than developing strong platforms of their own, secular opposition parties like Ettajdid have focused their campaign efforts almost exclusively on fear mongering, raising the specter of an Iranian-style Islamist takeover and the imposition of Shariah, the legal code of Islam. Daniel Pipes and other Western commentators have joined the fray, urging Washington to stand against the “blight” of Ennahda and labeling Islamism “the civilized world’s greatest enemy.”
But as the article continues, there is a sense of hope for women in Tunisia.
In May, Tunisia passed an extremely progressive parity law, resembling France’s, which required all political parties to make women at least half of their candidates. As a long-repressed party, Ennahda enjoyed more credibility than other groups. It also had a greater number of female candidates to run than any other party, and strongly supported the parity law as a result.
According to Mounia Brahim and Farida Labidi, 2 of the 13 members of Ennahda’s Executive Council, the party welcomes strong, critical women in its ranks. “Look at us,” Ms. Brahim said. “We’re doctors, teachers, wives, mothers — sometimes our husbands agree with our politics, sometimes they don’t. But we’re here and we’re active.”
These women are not likely to oppose women’s rights legislation. Ennahda women are, first and foremost, Tunisians. They are well educated, and their brand of Islamism, like Tunisian society as a whole, is relaxed and comparatively progressive. Since the 1950s, Tunisian women have enjoyed greater legal protections than their counterparts in other Arab states.
In Russia, a huge renovation is complete…Joy and Nostalgia in Moscow as Bolshoi Theater Reopens – NYTimes.com
…if you wanted to understand the significance of the event, it was more useful to stand outside, where a few hundred people not lucky enough to get tickets were watching the gala on two large screens. It was a cold, miserable night, and the whole thing was covered live on television, but they stood there anyway, and when columns of ballerinas appeared to the adagio from “Swan Lake,” there were audible sighs of delight.
The reopening of the Bolshoi is freighted with political significance; the six-year restoration has turned the clock back to the late 19th century, replacing thousands of Soviet hammer-and-sickle signs with imperial double-headed eagles. More simply, though, it fills a vacuum in a country besotted by art.
Take a look at some of the images from behind the scenes in the magnificent Bolshoi. The Bolshoi Theater Reopens – Audio & Photos – NYTimes.com
Sticking with culture…and art, a new production on BBCRadio4 has inspired a new book…‘History of the World in 100 Objects,’ From British Museum – NYTimes.com
Trustees of the British Museum
A double-headed serpent Aztec figurine from Mexico (A.D. 1400-1600), part of a project to tell the history of the world in 100 objects from the British Museum.
IT was a project so audacious that it took 100 curators four years to complete it. The goal: to tell the history of the world through 100 objects culled from the British Museum’s sprawling collections. The result of endless scholarly debates was unveiled, object by chronological object, on a BBC Radio 4 program in early 2010, narrated by Neil MacGregor, director of the museum. Millions of listeners tuned in to hear his colorful stories — so many listeners that the BBC, together with the British Museum, published a hit book of the series, “A History of the World in 100 Objects,” which is being published in the United States on Monday
Also from the Guardian, A Halloween reading list | Books | guardian.co.uk
However, being the très cool, alternative trendies that we are, let’s not settle for any old horror novel. Sure, American Psycho or The Shining will scare the bejeesus out of you, guaranteed. But that’s a bit too easy.
Instead, I’ve put together an alternative Halloween reading list in preparation for next Monday: novels that are eerie, horrifying or disturbing in unusual and different ways. (And please, no jokes about Jeffrey Archer or Cecelia Ahern being truly gruesome … mainly because I’ve just made one.)
There is one book I would add to the list…Felicia’s Journey by William Trevor.
From Minx’s Missing Link File: In the world of snakes and science…Python Digestion Study Holds Promise for Human Heart Health – NYTimes.com
Paul Zenk/PBS Nature “Invasion of the Giant Pythons”
A giant python swallows an alligator in Everglades National Park, Fla.
Pythons are known for their enormous appetites. In a single meal they can devour animals at least as big as they are — deer, alligators pigs and house pets, for example.
Equally remarkable is what happens inside the python as it digests its prey. Within a day, its heart and other organs can double in size. The metabolic rate and production of insulin and lipids soar.
Then, like an accordion, the python’s organs return to normal size in just a few days. Metabolism slows. Then the snake can fast for months, even a year, without losing muscle mass or showing any ill effects, ready to ambush new prey.
How this process happens so rapidly is a biological mystery with important implications for human health, particularly when it comes to heart failure. Now scientists at the University of Colorado here are reporting that they have partly solved it.
Give that link a read, it is fascinating.
Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: Last night on TCM there was a movie called The Body Snatcher, about the days when doctors would buy bodies for dissection…and the special people who would provide these bodies…sometimes getting them from the graveyard was more difficult than killing them in an alley. So continuing the Halloween theme. Whodunnit? Grave-robbery in early medieval northern and western Europe – Medievalists.net
This thesis brings together all that is currently known of early medieval grave reopening in northern and western Europe. It investigates in detail an intensive outbreak of grave-robbery in 6th-7th century Kent. This is closely related to the same phenomenon in Merovingia: an example of the import of not only material goods but also a distinctive cultural practice. Limited numbers of similar robbing episodes, affecting a much smaller proportion of graves in each cemetery, are also identified elsewhere in Anglo-Saxon England. Although the phenomenon of grave-robbery is well-attested in Merovingia, this research is the first study at a regional level.
The aim is to advance the debate about early medieval robbery from general discussion of interpretative possibilities to evaluation of specific models and their compatibility with the archaeological evidence. The conclusions have significant implications for the interpretation of grave-robbery across early medieval Europe. In Kent robbing is at a level that must be considered in any discussion of cemetery evidence. The poor publication record has inhibited recognition and analysis of robbing in the county. However, by using extensive archive material, this thesis has shown that the practice of ransacking graves was on a similar scale in East Kent as in Merovingia.
This research identifies over 200 reopened graves across Kent, with at least 15 sites affected. At the most intensely robbed sites, an average of over 20% of burials were disturbed. Robbing is likely to have had a significant impact on artefact finds, especially from the late 6th century onwards. Grave-robbery opens a window onto the wider meanings and values of grave-good types within the early medieval period. The analysis in this thesis demonstrates that the main motive for reopening was the removal of grave goods. However, straightforward personal enrichment was not the goal. A deliberate, consistent selection of certain grave-good types were taken from burials, while other apparently covetable possessions were left behind. The desired grave-goods were removed even when in an unusable condition. It is argued that the selection of goods for removal was related to their symbolic roles in the initial burial rite. Their taking was intended to harm living descendants by damaging the prestige and strength of the dead. In addition to the robbed graves, there is a small number of graves spread across the sites which were reopened for bodily mutilation or rearrangement of skeletal parts. These closely resemble the better known deviant burial rites which were applied to certain corpses at the time of initial burial and are interpreted as a reaction to fear of revenants.
I want to end with this report of sexual assault on the MTV reality show, Real World…it is disturbing. You may remember some months ago, the Village Voice published an article about the contracts participants must sign to be on Real World. (link below) It absolved MTV of any responsibility if participants were sexually assaulted. Check this out…Was a “Real World” star raped by her castmates? – Reality TV – Salon.com
Tonya Cooley is a former “Real World Chicago” and “Real World/Road Rules Challenge” cast member. She’s been a Playboy “Cybergirl of the Week,” has worked with the Girls Gone Wild team, and done a little Cinemax softcore. And absolutely none of that means that she wasn’t raped.
I won’t go into the details, but it involves a toothbrush, a couple of guys, and a TV crew. Cooley was unaware of the event, she had drunk a lot of alcohol and passed out, no one alerted her to the video taped assault, however they did replace the toothbrush with a brand new one…
Of course, reality TV has a long and tawdry track record with the ladies. In 2003, a guest at the “Real World San Diego” house claimed she was drugged and raped during a party. Two years ago, the gruesome suicide of “Megan Wants a Millionaire’s” Ryan Alexander Jenkins, while facing charges for killing his ex-wife, served as a temporary reminder of the desperate laxity involved in screening potential reality show stars. We got another reminder in June, when “Cake Boss” co-star Remy Gonzalez pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 13 year-old girl. Then in August,”Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Taylor Armstrong’s estranged husband Russell committed suicide in the wake of a domestic violence scandal. Long before “Housewives,” Armstrong earned himself retraining orders from two separate prior relationships and pleaded guilty to battery.
This list of disgusting connections between reality shows and violence against women and girls is shocking, I had no idea there was so much disgusting things going on…I never watch these shows, they make me want to grab a bucket. Avoiding all the “stuff” in the entertainment industry is a good thing, it isn’t until researching Botox treatment for migraines that I came upon the latest from the Michael Jackson trial…this is unbelievable, the man got Botox injected in his armpits and groin so that he would not sweat…
Back to the Salon piece:
But without all the facts of the case, we know that Cooley is a loose cannon — and that reality TV depends upon bad behavior, and often encourages it. We know that MTV’s contracts have stipulated that if you get “non-consensual physical contact,” is a risk that comes with the territory — and the network is not responsible. We know that we still live in a world where the Huffington Post can blithely chalk up an alleged sexual assault as a “freak incident.” You know, like hail in the desert. And that on TVology.com, Terron Moore has decided the accused “did some things Tonya didn’t like… and well, she’s just now complaining about it.” You know, like anyone would if someone put an empty carton of milk back in the fridge. Of Cooley’s allegation that men were coached to feel up the females, he adds, “Who needs encouraging to touch privates, exactly? That’s the fun part!”
Clearly it’s time for a refresher course here. If you grope a person without consent, that is assault. If violate a human being, even one who is passed out drunk, you are raping that person. That is not a “freak incident” — and it sure as hell isn’t the fun part. Nobody should get a free pass to commit crime because he’s on a reality show, and nobody should sign away her right to safety from abuse to be on TV. Those who still don’t get it are the ones who need to get real.
What the hell…the PLUB religious right is not the only jackasses on an anti-woman campaign, they are getting the best kind of assistance by the media and entertainment industry…not to mention dumb assholes that feel it is “fun” to commit a violent act towards a woman. Where are we heading to…somebody tell me!
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Posted: October 20, 2011 | Author: JJ Lopez aka Minkoff Minx | Filed under: #Occupy and We are the 99 percent!, abortion rights, Afghanistan, Africa, Banksters, Barack Obama, children, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Elections, financial institutions, Foreign Affairs, Germany, Health care reform, Human Rights, immigration, Kenya, Libya, PLUB Pro-Life-Until-Birth, religious extremists, Reproductive Health, Reproductive Rights, SCOTUS, SDB Evening News Reads, Somalia, Spain, Uganda, Violence against women, Women's Rights | Tags: al-Shabaab, Gadaffi, immunity for banks |
Okay, so the big news, and I mean big news because it is all I am seeing on CNN..Gaddafi is dead. There is even video to prove it. Let the celebrations begin…or continue. But there is a lot of other “stuff” going on in Africa, and it should not get drowned out by the Libya story…
So today’s evening news reads post is going to be link heavy, and hopefully will draw some attention to another battle going on in Africa today.
We have seen the reports on Obama’s decision to send 100 troops in a consultant capacity to Uganda. Well, Kenya has worked towards a war involving a Somali terrorist group sympathetic with al Qaeda and it looks like the US was caught off guard.
Kenya Reportedly Didn’t Warn U.S. of Somalia Incursion – NYTimes.com
As fierce fighting spread to new areas of Somalia on Thursday, American officials said they had been taken by surprise by Kenya’s recent march into Somalia to battle Islamist militants.
Kenya is one of the closest American allies in Africa, frequently cooperating on military and intelligence issues, and American officials have branded Islamist militants in Somalia a serious threat to the United States.
But Kenya’s sudden incursion into Somalia over the weekend caught the United States “on its heels,” one American official said Thursday. A former American official with experience in Africa said Kenyan officers had given their American counterparts “zero” information before the offensive started.
That seems real hard to believe, that the Kenya aggression towards Somalia was a surprise. Don’t forget the tensions on the Kenya/Somali border…and the empty refugee camps on Kenya’s land.
More on refugee and aid problems in a bit…I want to stick with Kenya’s military actions in Somalia.
Kenya Faces Somalia Quagmire After U.S., Ethiopian Failures – Businessweek
Kenya’s military drive into neighboring Somalia to thwart attacks by the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab risks ending like previous interventions by the U.S. and Ethiopia — in retreat and failure.
While Kenya’s well-equipped army has been able to advance into southern Somalia, it may not be able to withstand attacks by a determined guerrilla force, according to Thomas Cargill, assistant head of the Africa Program at the London-based international-affairs institute Chatham House, who called it Kenya’s first foreign intervention.
“The problem comes with a counter-insurgency, that once you are there and become a target, do you have the skills to counter the increasing attacks against you?” he said by phone yesterday. “On that score, I think the Kenyan military is fairly untried.”
On October 16th, Kenyan soldiers entered Somalia after the kidnapping of tourist and Spanish aid workers in Kenya. Kenyan officials put the blame on al-Shabaab, which has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda.
The Kenyans and forces allied to Somalia’s western-backed transitional government secured the towns of Tabda and Afmadow, which is which is about 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of the Kenyan border, Chirchir said. They have killed 75 al-Shabaab militants since the operation began, the Nairobi-based Standard newspaper reported today, without citing anyone.
“My understanding is that they have, at most, 2,000 troops they are trying to drive through to Kismayo,” Bronwyn Bruton, deputy director at the Ansari Africa Center of the Washington- based Atlantic Council, said in a phone interview yesterday. “I don’t think it’s feasible that they can get very far into Somalia, because 2,000 troops just aren’t enough.”
There have been violent attacks in this war-torn area for years, remember Black Hawk Down?
But the view that Kenya is taking a chance at entrenching itself in another quagmire is not the only thing working its way through the op/ed sections of African media news outlets.
Kenya must not miscalculate war – Opinion & Analysis |businessdailyafrica.com
If, as some commentators have claimed, Kenya has taken a self-defence action in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter, it has to inform the UN.
Article 51 says that such measures have to be immediately reported to the Security Council and “shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council … to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.”
Whether the action was taken under Article 51 or not, it is crucial that the Kenyan government defines clearly its primary goal and the strategy for attaining it.
The best goal in war should be to protect people, attain peace, enhance the rule of law, and preserve national institutions and values.
If the Kenya government’s main goal is to deter al Shabaab from threatening citizens and tourists, it will design a strategy and tactics that are consistent with it.
However, if the government’s goal is to defeat the group and deny it any territorial base in Somalia, its commitments must be long-term, and its strategies, tactics and resources have to reflect a long-haul involvement in Somalia’s civil war.
This would require the government to explain what a victory over al Shabaab would mean.
There are concerns that Kenya’s move may give al Shabaab more al Qaeda recruiting chances…
Without clear plans on how long Kenya’s troops will remain in Somalia, the recent rhetoric from politicians and senior civil servants that Kenya plans to go the whole way to Kismayu and deny al Shabaab any territorial base in Somalia smacks of miscalculations.
Any sustainable strategy against al-Shabaab ought to take into consideration the fact that this organisation is not popular in Somalia, but if the Kenyan military antagonises innocent Somalis in the process of chasing al-Shabaab, it might inadvertently recruit more supporters for the terrorist group.
Give those three articles a read, they give plenty of information.
For more on the escalating tensions between Al-Shaabab and both countries of Somalia and Kenya: Al-Shabab Fuels Tensions Between Kenya, Somalia | Africa | English
And for an article about the recent kidnapping of Spanish aid workers: Gunmen kidnap two Spanish aid workers from Kenyan camp | Reuters
The dangers foreign aid workers face everyday are truly frightening. This next article from Der Spiegel brings that point home: Development Aid in Afghanistan: The Country Where Hope Goes to Die – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International
Western aid workers have long been deeply involved in Afghanistan, putting their lives at risk and fighting for funding back home. Still, they have accomplished little or have seen much of their work destroyed. Many will be leaving the country in disappointment.
Hanz Sayami discusses the work he did in Afghanistan in a halting voice. He talks about the school for boys that he built six years ago in Char Gul Tepa, a town in the northern part of Kunduz province, after painstakingly gathering funding. “The place means ‘Four Flower Hill,'” he says. A girl’s school went up a year later there, though this time with the help of German development aid funds. Everything was going well, with Sayami and his assistants paying regular visits to the schools.
But, a few months ago, they dissolved their “Schools for Afghanistan” initiative. “The situation on the ground doesn’t allow us to visit the projects anymore,” Sayami says. “So we can no longer ask donors in good conscience for money because we can’t monitor expenditures in person.”
Moving on to some items in the news here in the US, here are some links of interest, as I said this post was going to be link heavy….
Um … What? | Talking Points Memo
AP reports that South Carolina’s new voter ID law is hitting African-American the hardest. Top GOP political strategist says, Awesome!
Three Faces of Racial Profiling: Immigrants are the Latest Victims » Blog of Rights: Official Blog of the American Civil Liberties Union
Alabama, scarred by a long history of civil rights struggles, became the first state where a state-sanctioned racial profiling law has gone into effect, after attempts to block it in court were unsuccessful. This newly legalized racial profiling of Latinos includes those who are lawfully present in the U.S., like taxi driver Cineo Gonzales. When Gonzales questioned why his first grade daughter, who was born in Alabama, was singled out at school and given information about H.B. 56, he was told by a school official that that the document was handed out to “all children who aren’t from here.”
Alabama is the latest in a string of states to follow Arizona’s lead by passing laws sanctioning the use of racial profiling. Since S.B. 1070 passed in Arizona last year, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, Utah and Alabama have all joined the ranks of the “show me your papers” states, even though only Alabama’s law has gone into effect. These states are bent on forcing Latinos and immigrants out of their states by creating an unbearably hostile environment. These unconstitutional laws discriminate on the basis of race and national origin, and sweep in U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and other people lawfully in the U.S.
The problem of racial profiling of immigrants is not limited to the states. The Obama administration’s federal immigration enforcement system includes two programs that are fraught with civil rights problems.
Read more about The 287(g) program and Secure Communities program, aka S-COMM, at the link.
CLASS Act’s demise is mourned by backers – Brett Norman – POLITICO.com
The death of health reform’s long-term care insurance program was so unceremonious that its supporters — among the Obama administration’s closest allies on health issues — got about 30 minutes’ notice of the funeral.
On Friday afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services released a report that said there was “no viable path forward” to implementing the CLASS Act, a major — if little-advertised — piece of the administration’s signature Affordable Care Act.
The news was a slap in the face to CLASS advocates, who knew a report was imminent but did not suspect it would be a death certificate.
Hmmmm, it was only a matter of time before Obama through Ted Kennedy under a bus…Kennedy was one of the biggest supporters of the CLASS Act, it was a priority he had worked on for years.
No surprise huh? Like this little nugget from Rolling Stone: Obama Solicits Designers to Work – Unpaid – on … Jobs Poster | Tim Dickinson | Rolling Stone
The Obama campaign has more than $60 million cash on hand. In an economy this bad, you’d think a presidential campaign that flush would be happy to pay good money for a talented designer to create a campaign poster.
But the folks at Obama campaign have taken a page from the Arianna Huffington book of economic exploitation and called on “artists across the country” to create a poster … for free.
And here’s the kicker. It’s a jobs poster.
Here are some outrageous updates in the new Big Ass Bank immunity deal…I must admit I missed this one big time…so here is the link to Emptywheel, go and read it all: Obama’s “Get Out of Jail for Helping 1.36% Card” for Banksters | emptywheel
I am sticking with the Obama busting for one more link. I posted it today in the comments, but it should be put up front. h/t to Susie Madrak: What Happens if Obama Can’t Fill Judicial Vacancies?
Well, I will tell you what will happen…stuff like this and this will end up getting passed, and when it gets challenged in court…the court will uphold these anti-women laws and give the women in America a big kick in the ass…and send them tumbling off the PLUB cliff.
This next link is not encouraging at all…it deals with Occupy Baltimore, and seems to be a legitimate concern for women who participate in the Occupy protest. Occupy Baltimore group discourages reporting rape, health advocates say – Baltimore Sun
Efforts by the Occupy Baltimore protest group to evolve into a self-contained, self-governing community have erupted into controversy with the distribution of a pamphlet that victim advocates and health workers fear discourages victims of sexual assaults from contacting police.
The pamphlet says that members of the protest group who believe they are victims or who suspect sexual abuse “are encouraged to immediately report the incident to the Security Committee,” which will investigate and “supply the abuser with counseling resources.”
The directive also says, in part, “Though we do not encourage the involvement of the police in our community, the survivor has every right, and the support of Occupy Baltimore, to report the abuse to the appropriate authorities.”
Despite this caveat, the heads of three rape crisis centers and a nurse who runs the forensic division at Mercy Medical Center called the message about not involving police dangerous. They said it contains erroneous information that could undermine efforts to convince victims to properly report crimes and get the counseling they need.
“It might actually passively prevent someone from seeking justice,” said Jacqueline Robarge, the executive director of Power Inside, a nonprofit support group that helps women who have been victimized.
All Occupy organizers need to be vocal against abuse of any form at the protest, and steps must be taken to insure the safety of the protesters, especially from predators who will use the protest for their own gains.
Which leads to the last link today. Boston Boomer had a most excellent post about the FBI’s archaic definition of rape..today in HuffPo there is an article that reports on the steps going forward in changing the Bureau’s definition of rape. FBI’s Definition Of Rape Is Outdated And Narrow, Agency Panel Concludes
Currently, the FBI defines rape as the “carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.”
This definition is narrower than the one used by many police departments around the country, and women’s rights advocates say it leads to the under-counting of thousands of sexual assaults each year.
On Tuesday, an FBI panel composed of outside experts from criminal justice agencies and national security agencies voted to broaden the federal government’s definition.
The new definition would take out the requirement that the sexual assault be “forcible,” remove the restriction that the attack be toward a woman and include non-vaginal/penile rape and rape by a blood relative.
The panel’s recommended definition reads: “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
So what are y’all reading about tonight. We had a big cold front come through Banjoland last night, and it is officially hot chocolate season!
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