SDB Evening News Reads for 102011: Gaddafi is dead…but what else is going on in Africa?

Good Evening

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

Photo Gallery: Life and Suffering in Afghanistan
Photos
AFP

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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