Thursday, September 03, 2015

Xi Says Anti-Fascist War "a Decisive Battle" for Justice
2015-09-03 10:41:54
Editor: huaxia

BEIJING, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping said Thursday the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War were "a decisive battle between justice and evil, between light and darkness, and between progress and reaction."

Xi made the remarks while addressing a gathering to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory of Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War in downtown Beijing.

"In that devastating war, the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression started the earliest and lasted the longest," he said.

Ravaging through Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania, that war inflicted over 100 million military and civilian casualties. China suffered over 35 million casualties and the Soviet Union lost more than 27 million lives, according to Xi.

The victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression is "the first complete victory" won by China in its resistance against foreign aggression in modern times, he said.

"This great triumph crushed the plot of the Japanese militarists to colonize and enslave China and put an end to China's national humiliation of suffering successive defeats at the hands of foreign aggressors in modern times," he said.

The president said that this victory also re-established China as a major country in the world and won the Chinese people respect of all peace-loving people around the world.

"This great triumph opened up bright prospects for the great renewal of the Chinese nation and set our ancient country on a new journey after gaining rebirth," he said.
China Focus: Foreign Troops March in China Parade to Display Wartime Unity Against Fascism
2015-09-03 11:12:00

BEIJING, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- As rifle-carrying foreign troops clad in manifold uniforms goose-stepped with crisp, tidy clip-clops and neatly choreographed movements across the Tian'anmen Square, China's V-Day parade on Thursday gained its international gravity.

The display marked the country's endeavor to revive the forgotten memory that China and its global allies joined hands to win a war against "the darkest forces ever" in the history of mankind 70 years ago.

Nearly 1,000 high-spirited soldiers from 17 countries marched in the wake of veterans and Chinese army formations, marking the foreign troops' premiere in a Chinese military parade.

Among them were Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Kyrghyzstan, Mexico, Mongolia, Pakistan, Serbia, Tajikistan and Russia. Six others, including Afghanistan, Cambodia, Fiji, Laos, Vanuatu and Venezuela, marched their delegations for parade.

Most of those countries are sufferers of the World War II and some of them gained national independence as the post-war world order took shape.

They were observed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and governmental representatives including the U.S. Ambassador to China.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Germany Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder were on the rostrum.

"China's contribution and sacrifice during the Second World War is very much recognized, appreciated for all such sufferings, and sympathized by the world people," said Ban Ki-moon before the parade.


In Shanghai, Sara Imas, 65, was watching the live-show of military parade. She is a Jewish descendant born in the eastern Chinese city. Her parents came to Shanghai in 1939. They were among 30,000 refugees migrating from Europe during the war.

"Chinese put themselves in our position and offered help to us in the most difficult times," Imas told Xinhua. "So I am proud of the military parade."

Chinese people's empathy with Jewish refugees stemmed mostly from their own pains inflicted by the Japanese aggression.

China was the first country to face the onslaught of the Axis Powers in 1937, two years before Britain and France, and four years before the United States, Rana Mitter wrote in his 2013 book "Forgotten Ally."

China's anti-fascist war began even earlier actually. On Sept. 18, 1931, Japanese army invaded northeastern China, marking the starting point of the Chinese people's courageous fight against fascism.

American reporter Israel Epstein, writer of "The People's War," was initially skeptical of the ill-equipped army of a country far from being industrialized capable of making any effective resistance against the Japanese aggression.

Epstein, a reporter on wartime China was surprised to find how the communist-led guerrilla mobilized farmers in occupied North China to make vast rural area a base for tenacious, protracted war.

He described China as "an important ally of democracy and frightening enemy of Fascist invaders," whose struggle provided "meanings and hope" for people all over the world.


China considered the march-past of foreign troops in its V-Day parade a symbol of unity that China and allied forces fought together to finally defeat the evil forces.

Nell Calloway, granddaughter of Claire Lee Chennault, hadn't known her grandfather flew any airplanes until he died. "I don't think I really appreciate his accomplishments until I started reading all the books about him."

Not a famous person in America though, Chennault is an absolute super-hero in China. Veterans of "Flying Tigers" led by Chennault were invited to participate in the V-Day parade.

"Flying Tigers" is a nickname given to American Volunteer Group, the air corps that fought alongside the Chinese during war.

"What really impressed him is Chinese people's tenacity and willingness to do whatever it took," said Calloway. "They would rebuild the runways that the Japanese bombed on overnight."

China paid "ghastly price," as Mitter put it, in its own theater, more than a quarter of the WWII battlefield.

China's wartime casualties totaled more than 35 million, accounting for one-third of the world total.

American writer Wesley Marvin Bagby quoted Franklin Roosevelt's words in his book "The Eagle-Dragon Alliance": "if China went under, 'how many divisions of Japanese troops do you think will be freed?'"

"The successful resistance put by the Chinese people at great sacrifice was a very important contribution to ending the Second World War," said Schroeder, who is also the first German Chancellor being invited to the D-Day celebration in France in 2004.


As China is growing into a global power, its V-Day parade has caused criticisms that China is flexing its military muscle, which may pose a threat to post-war world order.

Zhang Ming, China's vice minister of foreign affairs, dismissed such concerns, describing the event as "a demonstration of China's aspiration for peace and its firm will to defend it."

"It's important to look to the past, what kinds of lessons we have been learning, and how we can move ahead to a brighter future," Inn Buruma, wrote in his bestseller "Year Zero: 1945."

In Buruma's view, the post-war world order was anything but once-for-all happy ending. The Cold War was quick to distort the world order for lasting peace written in the 1945 Charter of the United Nations.

Its latest evidence went to Shinzo Abe's endeavor to alter Japan's peaceful constitution by calling it "anachronistic." Some 120,000 people rallied in Japan's parliament building on Sunday to oppose the amendment bill.

Nobusuke Kishi, Abe's grandfather who played a major role in the invasion of the Northeast China and ran his country's war economy was never put on trial like other war criminals. In 1957, he even became the prime minister of Japan.

Now Abe vowed to bring down Nobusuke's "political legacy," putting the East Asia and the world under what Buruma called the "long dark shadow of the history."

Zhang denied the parade targeting at the Japanese people in general, describing it as a necessity to reaffirm the determination to work for world peace and prosperity.x "Though reflecting upon and drawing lessons from the Second World War, we will join hand to usher in a better future for the mankind."

Dmitry Bobrov, commander of Russian troops in Thursday's parade, said, "Our elder generations once fought the common enemy, now we march at a synchronized pace. It has symbolic meanings."

"We fought together like brothers and we were able to change our history. Now we need to come together in peace and change our future," Calloway said.
Black Lives Matter Protesters Demand Jerry Brown’s Support for Police Profiling Measure
Capitol rally includes march, ‘die-in,’ and speech by bill’s author


Chanting “Black lives matter!” and staging a massive “die-in,” scores of people rallied Wednesday at the state Capitol in support of legislation that seeks to stamp out racial profiling by law enforcement.

Protesters marched through the streets and then crowded the halls outside the office of Gov. Jerry Brown, demanding his signature for Assembly Bill 953, which still must clear the state Senate before it reaches the governor’s desk. It would require law enforcement to gather and report data on stops, something advocates hope will illuminate the extent of racial profiling.

The bill, by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, was one of several police-focused measures introduced this year amid tensions and violence between officers and communities. Critics, in urging its defeat in the Legislature, have derided the proposal as too costly.

Though demonstrators chanted for an audience with Brown, he was not in Sacramento. Instead, Weber called on Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, to accept a petition from the demonstrators.

“You’re making your voice heard today. That’s your right, your responsibility,” Atkins said. “We’re going to keep working on this.”

After addressing the crowd outside the Capitol, Weber said her bill was necessary because of California’s comparatively high death rate at the hands of police.

“When we look at the issues of racial profiling we discover that African Americans and Latinos are stopped two and three times more than anybody else, and yet have a lower arrest record,” she said, as activists read the names of victims. “So, obviously you’re stopping them without a cause to arrest them.”

The stop, Weber said, becomes the foundation “for other things happening” after.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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Black Lives Matter Occupies An Important Space
Demonstrators carried a “Black Lives Matter” banner while protesting the death of Ezell Ford during a meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission in June.

By Ronald S. Sullivan Jr.  
SEPTEMBER 01, 2015

THE MEME “All Lives Matter” is yet another effort to undermine legitimate calls to end antiblack police practices that characterize far too many interactions between police and citizens of color. Covered with a veneer of neutral and inclusive language, this mantra cleverly hides an intent to silence those who insist that police treat black citizens justly.

Perhaps the cry “All Lives Matter’’ would register as genuine if police unions expressed the same opprobrium when a fellow officer kills a person of color as they do when an officer is killed. But this rarely happens. Instead, police unions tend either to support or remain deafeningly silent when their own misbehave.

Of course, any killing of an innocent person should offend our collective moral sensibilities. All lives, self-evidently, matter. That is not the point. The point is that this country has been silent for decades, as citizens of color have been killed by those sworn to protect and serve. The Black Lives Matter movement is an attempt to shed light on a problem that has existed in the shadows.

Many specious arguments have been advanced to undermine the movement. Foremost is that blacks kill other blacks at a significantly higher clip than police kill blacks. This is true. But those who advance this argument elide a critical distinction between the two. There is something far more disconcerting about a police officer killing an innocent, as compared to other killings. Criminals do bad things. That’s why we arrest, prosecute, jail, and, sometimes, execute them. Police officers, on the other hand, are not supposed to be criminals. They are agents of the state, duty-bound to safeguard. And when the mechanisms of government work to protect those officers who misbehave, by failing to prosecute or convict, the actions of such officers are viewed as state-sanctioned killings of innocent citizens of color. No matter how infrequently that may occur, it shocks us and weakens our trust in government.

Besides, frequency of occurrence has never been the measure of the country’s outrage. Americans kill exponentially more Americans than foreign terrorists do, but we don’t silence the antiterror lobby. The same logic holds for Black Lives Matter. They are not a group of mathematicians resolute on apportioning their protests to align with the frequency of criminality in America. Instead, the aim is to promote police accountability in a culture where it has been sorely lacking.

Perhaps the most insidious assault on Black Lives Matter is that the protests have somehow caused violence against police. That argument is as silly as suggesting that the way a woman dresses causes her rape. The only thing Black Lives Matter has caused is a national conversation about police accountability. Trying to create a causal relationship between the indefensible police shootings in Houston and Fox Lake, Ill., and Black Lives Matters is an unjustified attempt to politicize those tragedies.

Finally, the claim that the black community ignores black-on-black crime shows a remarkable ignorance to intrarace discussions. Go to any black church, civic organization, or school, and hear pleas to stop the violence. Turn on the television and see a gross overrepresentation of black-on-black crime. This issue is fully explored in the media, and the demographic makeup of prisons shows that the public takes it seriously.

What has not been taken seriously is the issue of police accountability and illegal behavior in communities of color. That’s the important space Black Lives Matter occupies. It does the important work of stressing that black lives, also, matter.

Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. is a professor at Harvard Law School, where he is the faculty director of the Harvard Criminal Justice Institute and the Harvard Trial Advocacy Workshop.
South Carolina Governor Attacks Black Lives Matter
SEP 2, 2015 3:36PM

When South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was 10 years old, she watched shop owners in rural South Carolina call the police on her father, an immigrant from India, just because he was wearing a turban. Haley told the story of how this discrimination made her feel shamed and silenced in a speech at the National Press Club in D.C. on Wednesday about “Lessons from a New South,” but she also asserted that such racism has since been largely eradicated from the region.

“A lot of people make the mistake of thinking the South is still like that today. It’s not,” she said, pointing out that an intolerant population would never have elected an Indian-American like her as governor.

What is hurting people of color, Haley told the gathered reporters and pundits Wednesday, is the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Black lives do matter,” she said, “and they have been disgracefully jeopardized by the movement that has laid waste to Ferguson and Baltimore.”

Haley later added during a question and answer session that she understands where the Black Lives Matter is coming from, saying, “People yell when they don’t feel heard” — an echo of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote that “a riot is the language of the unheard.” But, she continued, it’s the responsibility of all peaceful Black Lives Matter members to denounce the violent behavior of others, “or else you’re going to get tagged with it.”

As for the movement’s tactic of interrupting presidential candidates in order to have their message heard, Haley said: “You can yell and scream, but that’s not going to get you anywhere.”

Yet the strategy has captured the nation’s attention, pushed major candidates to focus on discrimination and police violence, and won recognition in the Democratic Party platform.

Haley was widely praised and held up as a potential vice presidential candidate after she signed a bill removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse earlier this summer, in the wake of a mass shooting perpetrated by an admirer of the symbol.

She defended that decision Wednesday, saying, “The statehouse belongs to all people and needs to be welcoming to all people. That couldn’t happen with that flag flying.” But she also defended supporters of the Confederate flag, calling them “decent, wonderful people” who “are not racist.”

Yet the flag’s use has never been separate, in its long history, from white supremacy and racial terror.

It was only erected at southern statehouses as a response to the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960s. In the wake of calls across the country this summer to take down the flag and other symbols of the pro-slavery south, some lawmakers and activists who support the flag have rallied to its defense.

Some have placed the flag outside King’s former church in Atlanta, Georgia, while others have renewed the call for the South to secede from the United States.

This Saturday, supporters of the Confederate flag plan to rally in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. “It’s time we take the fight to them and show them that we will not go away quietly!” says the Facebook page for the event.
Black Lives Matter Movement Experiencing Growing Pains
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of Black Lives Matter activists, black and white, marched outside the Minnesota State Fair this weekend, hoping to bring attention to the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police.

Inside the fair, a booth had T-shirts bearing the slogans "Black Lives Matter" and "All Lives Matter" for sale. Todd Gramenz, who reserved the booth, chatted with fairgoers while the other protesters were kept outside.

The competing activities in Minnesota underscore the challenge that Black Lives Matter faces as it evolves from social media hashtag to full-blown movement. Its fluid, organic nature generates confusion about exactly who is in charge, who can legitimately speak for the group, and even whether it can be blamed for violence that some say may have been inspired by its rhetoric.

Tracing its roots to the fatal 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida, the Black Lives Matter movement gained national ground after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

Since then, deaths of other unarmed black males at the hands of law enforcement officers have inspired protests under the "Black Lives Matter" moniker.

Some are affiliated with the original Black Lives Matter network founded by Opal Tometi, Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza and their allies. But some are not, although they use the slogan.

Garza said in an email interview that her organization — which has 26 chapters, including Ghana and Canada — doesn't try to control who uses the name.

"Anytime someone identifies with a movement to make black lives matter in this country and around the world, that's a good thing," she said.

Some similarly loosely organized social movements, like Occupy Wall Street and the tea party, evolved beyond their grassroots beginnings, while some died.

Others followed the lead of the 1960s civil rights movement, which birthed groups like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Having small nebulous groups linked through social media and a shared cause may be enough for now, but odds are against such groups surviving for the long haul, said Deana A. Rohlinger, a Florida State University sociology professor who studies social movements and collective behavior.

"Activists do really good work locally," she said. "But if you want to affect politics and politicians, then you really do have to move up your organization to a more structured format that can engage politicians and lobbyists on their turf."

Activists claiming to represent the group interrupted a speech about to be delivered by Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, and met with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush.

And a Texas sheriff criticized the movement after one of his white deputies was shot and killed Friday at a Houston gas station; a black man has been charged with murder. Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman questioned whether it was spurred by anger over the killings of black men by police.

But Garza called any attempt to link the Black Lives Matter with the killing "racist and ridiculous."

"Our hearts go out to anyone who loses a loved one on the wrong side of a gun. Black families know that pain all too well," she said.

Garza said the news media equates every black protest with the movement and the network.

"While you don't have to be a member of BLM to be a part of the movement, you do need to be a member of BLM to speak for BLM," she said.

The Minneapolis march has come under criticism by police for a 30-second chant "pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon" uttered by some protesters during Saturday's four-hour march. Rashad Turner, the lead organizer of the Black Lives Matter protest, said the chant was meant to call for similar treatment between black people and police officers.

"We're not going to get caught up in one chant out of four hours and apologize for that," he said.

The Rev. Charles Williams II of the National Action Network in Detroit said "folks with their own agendas ... are going around and trying to coin their movement or hashtag" under the Black Lives Matter banner — a sentiment echoed by Detective Victoria Oliver, a Denver Police Protective Association board member.

"A lot of people are taking this platform of 'Black Lives Matter' and getting a little abusive with it. This is being used as a platform to be more rebellious," Oliver said.

Garza said the Black Lives Matters network sees itself as evolving, but "we're less concerned with the structure of BLM as we are with the function and our impact."


Additional reporting on this story was done by Associated Press writers Deepti Hajela in New York City, Corey Williams in Detroit and Sadie Gurman in Denver.


Jesse J. Holland covers race, ethnicity and demographics for The Associated Press. Contact him at [1] and on Twitter at [2]

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Looking Back on Ferguson
By Ann Hermes SEPTEMBER 2, 2015

BOSTON — Whitney Curtis’s images of the escalating tension between demonstrators and police over the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., were seen all over the news as events unfolded there in August, 2014. As a freelance photographer based in St. Louis, she had a well-informed view of what was happening in her backyard. I asked her about lessons learned from her coverage both in Ferguson and abroad.

Ann Hermes: You have worked extensively in the Midwest as well as in Uganda, Haiti, and elsewhere. Tell me about your approach to different places. Are there more similarities or differences in how you cover stories at home and abroad?

Whitney Curtis: I find that the basics of storytelling are the same whether I’m five miles or 5,000 miles from home…. I try my best to accurately portray the story I’m documenting and to have the greatest amount of empathy for the people I’m photographing.

Most of the time when I’m abroad working on projects I hire a “fixer” – typically a local journalist who can act as a guide, translator, and driver. Oftentimes I’m dependent on the fixer to help me gain access. A fixer is also there to add to the pre-travel research I’ve completed by helping my understanding of the local culture.

Without the language and cultural barrier, it’s usually easier for me to build rapport with subjects when covering stories at home. Making a connection with most people I photograph is much more simple when I'm in the US.

Hermes: You are a resident of St. Louis and covered events in Ferguson. What was your reaction to such events happening so close to home?

Curtis: The events following Michael Brown’s death startled the St. Louis region, but I was not surprised by the community’s response to the actions of the police.

The segregation in the metro area was one of the first things I noticed when moving to the city eight years ago. However, it's something I rarely heard discussed – at least not in my social circles.

I believe the police have a difficult, dangerous, and often thankless job, but most do their best every day.  The frustrations of African-Americans in the city and county had been growing due to the long-term injustice in countless ways, but especially by the court system in many smaller municipalities in the St. Louis area. [The courts used] fines and fees solely as a means of generating revenue. It was an issue brewing under the surface for many years, and it took this one tragic event for emotions to erupt.

Hermes: Was there anything that took you by surprise in Ferguson?

Curtis: During the first few weeks I had numerous residents thank me for being there and covering the story in Ferguson…. It’s rare to receive that kind of gratitude for simply doing my job.

Hermes: Did your coverage deepen your own understanding of St. Louis or change your view of it as a photographer and a resident?

Curtis: The events haven’t changed my view of the city. As a white woman, it has deepened my understanding of the racial history of the city. By spending so much time in Ferguson and the surrounding communities in North St. Louis County I have a greater empathy for the social injustices and biases affecting the African American community and low-income residents in all facets of their life – education, housing, public health, and law enforcement.

One of the most important things I’ve taken away from covering this story is a re-emphasis on how we as journalists need to be sensitive to story subjects and the community we’re covering. It was distressing watching members of the national and international media parachute in to cover the story and then quickly leave when things calmed down. I saw the effect our coverage of the events had on the local community. The impertinent attitudes of some members of the media toward the community I live in reminded me that I need to carry the utmost empathy the next time I’m covering a story away from home. Every community I land in should be treated like my own.
Justice Dept. Report Says Flawed Ferguson Response Offers Lessons on How to Handle Protests

WASHINGTON (AP) — The police response to unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer offers lessons in how not to handle mass demonstrations, according to a Justice Department report that warns such problems could happen in other places roiled by mistrust between law enforcement and the community.

The report fleshes out a draft version made public in June, creating a portrait of poor community-police relations, ineffective communication among the more than 50 law enforcement agencies that responded, police orders that infringed on First Amendment rights, and military-style tactics that antagonized demonstrators.

The final version, which is to be released on Thursday, was obtained in advance by The Associated Press.

The report focuses on the regional police response in the 17 days that followed the Aug. 9, 2014, shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, by a white police officer. In a detailed chronology, it tracks missteps that began almost immediately after the shooting when police wrongly assumed that crowds would quickly dissipate and failed to grasp community angst over the hours-long presence of Brown's body beneath white sheets in the street.

It details more flaws over the next two weeks, including the improper use of police dogs, armored vehicles and snipers to monitor crowds; the decision by some officers to remove their nameplates; arbitrary orders to demonstrators to keep moving after five seconds; and poor communication among agencies that led to confusion about which policy to follow and who was in change. Even as rumors spread, police failed to use social media to distribute correct information that could have eased concerns, according to the report.

Several law enforcement agencies whose actions were studied said they've learned from the events.

Police officers interviewed for the review complained of inconsistent orders from commanders, with some saying "there was no plan in place for arresting people" or that they "were unclear who they could arrest." Community members, meanwhile, described poor relationships with the police that predated — and were made worse by — the shooting.

"Having effective relations and communications with the community, recognizing that endemic problems were at the base of the demonstrations, and understanding how the character of the mass gatherings was evolving and spreading beyond the initial officer-involved shooting would have all aided in incident management decisions," the report states.

It also makes clear that the factors that created the unrest in Ferguson are not unique to the city, particularly in a year of heightened tensions between police and minority communities nationwide.

The Justice Department cautioned that while the public sees the St. Louis suburb "as a community of division and violence," the protests and unrest that occurred there could happen in other places "in which fostering positive police-community relationships and building trust are not a priority." Federal officials hope the report will be instructive to other police departments confronting mass demonstrations.

"In many ways, the demonstrations that followed the shooting death of Michael Brown were more than a moment of discord in one small community; they have become part of a national movement to reform our criminal justice system and represent a new civil rights movement," Ronald Davis, director of the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services office, wrote in an introduction.

The Ferguson shooting, along with other deaths of blacks at the hands of white police officers, sparked a national dialogue about police-community relations and the role of race in policing. Several recent fatal shootings of officers — including in Illinois and Texas — have focused attention on violent crime and officer safety.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

SOMALIA: AMISOM Condemns the Attack on its Base at Janaale
September 1, 2015

The AMISOM base at Janaale, Lower Shabelle Region in Somalia came under attack from Al-Shabaab militants today. The militants used a car loaded with explosives to trigger the attack and to facilitate their forced entry into the camp after which they engaged our soldiers in a gun-battle.

Although our troops undertook a tactical withdrawal following the initial vehicle borne explosive attack, they have since consolidated and regained full control of the base.

Given the complex nature of the attack, AMISOM is currently verifying the number of casualties and extent of the damage.

The Special Representative of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, AmbassadorMaman Sidikou has condemned the attack as reprehensible and praised the heroism of the peacekeepers who were killed during this attack noting that they have paid a worthy price while serving the people of Somalia.

Ambassador Sidikou commiserates with the government and people of Uganda on the losses suffered during this heinous attack.
Somalia Attack: Al-Shabab Attacks African Union Janale Base
1 September 2015
BBC World Service

Fighters from the al-Shabab militant Islamist group have overrun an African Union military base in southern Somalia, inflicting heavy casualties, witnesses have told the BBC.

The militants said they have killed 70 AU soldiers at the Janale base, 90km (55 miles) south-east of the capital.

AU forces say they are back in control after taking a "tactical withdrawal".

Al-Shabab, part of al-Qaeda, is battling the AU-backed government for control of Somalia.

Residents said the attack started with a suicide car bombing at the base's gate, followed by sustained gunfire which lasted more than an hour.

They told the BBC Somali service that AU forces were seen leaving the base, which is run by the Ugandan troops.

They said they counted the bodies of 20 AU soldiers and later they saw more troops arriving at the base after the militants had left with weapons.

The AU mission in Somalia (Amisom) says the situation is complex and it does not yet have casualty figures.

The BBC's Mohamed Mualimu in the capital, Mogadishu, says the situation in the area is very tense and few residents remain there.

The militants had earlier damaged a nearby bridge with a massive bomb to prevent troops from escaping, Col Ahmed Hassan from the Somali army told the Associated Press.

This is being seen as an attempt by the militants to isolate AU bases in the area, our reporter says.

In June, the group overran another African Union base in Lego, a small town in the Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia, killing dozens of soldiers and seizing military equipments.

Despite losing most of its key strongholds in south and central Somalia, al-Shabab continues to carry out attacks on the government and African Union troops across the country.

The militants also stage frequent suicide attacks inside the capital, Mogadishu.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Michigan Struggles Link Rising Racism to the Economic Crisis
Demonstrations and people’s assembly calls for unified effort to end exploitation and oppression

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

“It not one thing, it is everything,” says Rev. Edward Pinkney of Berrien County, Michigan who is currently incarcerated for unjust felony forgery charges at the Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater.

Supporters of Pinkney held a demonstration in Grand Rapids outside the state appeals court calling for the civil rights leader to be released on bond pending the outcome of his challenge to a conviction for attempting to recall the Benton Harbor mayor. Pinkney, the leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO) based in Berrien County, was sentenced to 30 to 120 months in prison after a trial that was observed and followed by thousands throughout the United States and the world.

Pinkney’s defense Attorney Tim Holloway has filed a motion for the appellate court to reconsider their ruling to deny bond in a 2-1 decision. Pinkney poses no threat to the people of Michigan and deserves to be allowed to rejoin his family and friends in Berrien County.

Judge Sterling Schrock sentenced Pinkney after admonishing him for his role in Berrien County politics. The BANCO leader was charged and convicted of changing five dates on recall petitions.

Nonetheless, there were no eyewitnesses to this alleged crime and the charges were politically motivated where the Berrien County prosecuting Atty. Michael Sepic questioned witnesses on their organizational affiliations and what was said at BANCO meetings. As a result of the conviction and sentencing of Pinkney, a nationwide movement has sprung into existence demanding his release.

The demonstration outside the appellate court in Grand Rapids was covered by Channel 8 and WOOD radio which reaches hundreds of thousands across western Michigan. Protesters traveled to Grand Rapids from Detroit, Ann Arbor, Berrien County and other areas around the state.

Detroit People’s Assembly Links Struggles Across City

A People’s Assembly and Speak Out were held on Sat. August 29 in downtown Detroit at Grand Circus Park. The event was called by the Moratorium NOW! Coalition and endorsed by other community organizations.

The event lasted for over three hours with so many people requesting to speak that some were not able to state their views. Organizers had to apologize due to the constraints of time.

Speakers at the assembly included Rebeykah Larson, who co-chaired the gathering. Larson is a housing activist in Detroit and has demonstrated against the pending property tax foreclosures in Wayne County.

Jo Ann Watson, former City Council member, attended to lend her moral support to the ongoing struggle in Detroit. Attorney Vanessa Fluker, a people’s lawyer working on housing rights, urged people to fight the banks which were at the root of the foreclosure crisis.

Errol Jennings, leader of the Russell Woods Neighborhood Association called on people to organize citywide to end the forced removals underway against African Americans and other working class people in the city. Jennings spearheaded a campaign to get resolutions from community organizations to enact a moratorium on tax foreclosures earlier this year.

The neighborhood resolutions helped to prompt the City Council to pass its own language requesting the moratorium. The tax foreclosure deadline was postponed for two-and-a-half months allowing thousands to make arrangements with the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office to save their homes.

Other speakers at the assembly included Cicely McClellan of the Detroit Active and Retirees Association (DAREA); Tijuana Morris of DAREA; Attorney Matt Clark of the Detroit Eviction Defense (DED); Pat Driscoll of DED and a retired steel worker; Jack Watkins, a youth participant who spoke on the rising tide of racism in the majority African American city of Detroit; Debra Simmons of the Detroit chapter of the National Action Network (NAN) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) National Police Reform Campaign; Jerry Goldberg of Moratorium NOW! Coalition; Michael Shane of Moratorium NOW! Coalition; Diane Bukowski, editor of Voice of Detroit and the campaign to demand a vote on the regionalization of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD); Valerie Jean, a water and environmental rights community activist from the North End neighborhood; Martha Grevatt of the UAW and labor analyst; Cynthia Johnson, AM 1440 radio host and leader of the Community Light Walk;  Maureen Taylor, co-chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO); Meeko Williams of the Detroit Water Brigade; Stephen Boyle, a videographer and environmental activist; Helen Moore of Keep the Vote, No Takeover; Erik Shelly of Michigan United and Black Lives Matter; among others.

Action Proposals Adopted at Assembly

Yet this was not enough. The Wayne County Treasurer has announced that the remaining foreclosed properties, even those that are owner-occupied, will begin to be auctioned on September 11. The People’s Assembly agreed on an action proposal to hold a demonstration outside the Treasurer’s office at 400 Monroe on September 15 at Noon.

The action proposal circulated at the assembly stressed that “Thousands of Detroiters and other Wayne County residents will be evicted from their homes in the next month, as the Wayne County Treasurer auctions their homes to investors following tax foreclosures. The first auction begins September 11 and goes until September 17.”

This same statement goes on to note “This disaster is entirely avoidable! The State of Michigan is sitting on $200 million in federal Helping Hardest Hit Funds that can be used to pay delinquent property tax bills for occupied homes. But instead of using these funds for their stated purpose, to keep families in their homes, the state and federal governments are using these funds to tear down homes and turning them over to the ‘blight taskforce’ led by billionaire Dan Gilbert.”

Other action proposals adopted included an outreach initiative for the annual Labor Day parade on September 7. Two items will be circulated to tens of thousands of union members who come out every year to participate: a statement to the labor movement from Michigan political prisoner Rev. Edward Pinkney and leaflets calling for the demonstration at the Wayne County Treasurer on September 15.

A strong emphasis was placed on the need for jobs in the city of Detroit; the restoration of full pension and healthcare benefits promised to municipal retirees; support of a Title VI racial discrimination complaint to the federal government charging extreme bias in the destruction of the Detroit Public Schools system languishing under emergency management for most of the last 15 years; the need to seek justice for those victims and their families of police violence; and the defense of residents who are facing eviction by the banks and Fannie Mae backed up by the courts.

Moratorium NOW! Coalition organizers encouraged people to attend their Monday night meetings at 5920 Second Avenue in Midtown beginning at 7:00pm. Other groups involved in social justice, anti-racist, environmental, educational and labor activities were allowed to announce their meeting times and locations.

This People’s Assembly once again tested the hard won right of community organizations to hold political meetings and demonstrations on the streets in downtown Detroit. Efforts to ban such activities were attempted by the bankers and corporate heads during 2014 prompting a legal and political struggle to guarantee free speech and assembly in the financial district and its environs.

Earlier this year the City of Detroit Law Department was forced to issue guidelines regulating the right of assembly and speech in downtown. The case remains open while the question of damages to the Moratorium NOW! Coalition and Women in Black are settled.
Ten Years After Katrina: Natural Disaster or Forced Removals?
National oppression and mass impoverishment continues in the Gulf and around the U.S.

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

It has been a decade since the people of New Orleans and the Gulf coast were dislocated due to the failure of the federal government to both protect their communities and to rebuild them after the hurricane.

An undetermined number of people died, officially said to be approximately 1,800 just in New Orleans, during and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina which struck the last week of August 2005. Many others suffered severe injuries while the municipal and health care systems in the area were overwhelmed.

Thousands of homes were damaged due to the storm causing mass evacuations to convention centers, stadiums, building roofs and in the streets of New Orleans as well as other cities and towns. Later people were transported out of the region along the Gulf Coast in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Families, neighborhoods, churches, organizations, schools, social clubs and a centuries-long culture were wiped out in a matter of days. Although the federal government under the leadership of the-then President George W. Bush told media outlets that they were working to provide assistance to the impacted cities, towns and rural areas, these falsehoods were soon revealed.

White armed militias prevented African Americans from fleeing into their neighborhoods amid reports of outright racially motivated murders. Police and law-enforcement personnel disappeared in the disaster creating an atmosphere of lawlessness and abandonment.

Domestic Warfare While the Middle East and Afghanistan Burned

The aftermath of the Katrina disaster exposed the Bush administration for both its domestic and international failures. With the deployment of hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops in the Middle East, and the invasion of Iraq in 2003, it drained the ranks of the military reserves and National Guard personnel.

Domestic military forces were in short supply and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) demonstrated its racist character and administrative incompetence. The images of hundreds of thousands dislocated African Americans in public areas, buses and on warships awaiting removal illustrated the national oppressive and class contradictions within the world’s leading capitalist and imperialist state.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which began in October 2001, resulted in the deaths of thousands of U.S. and NATO troops along with hundreds of thousands of civilians in these countries. Nonetheless, the Bush administration along with the Congress was determined to continue these occupations which were based on fabricated allegations of a “war on terrorism” and destroying “weapons of mass destruction.”

When several other states such as Cuba, Venezuela and France offered material assistance to the people of the region, the Bush administration declined saying that the U.S. was a wealthy country and could take care of its own people. Cuban physicians were prepared to deploy to the Gulf and Venezuela was willing to send ships with fuel in a gesture of solidarity with the African American people and others in the region.

Therefore, by not providing assistance to the people and preventing others from doing so, the government was in effect intensifying a war against the oppressed. Over the next two years, the economic crisis within the U.S. mounted as jobless rates skyrocketed along with massive home foreclosures and evictions.

Impact of Federal Policy on the People of the Region

Estimates suggest that over 1 million people were forced to relocate while untold numbers perished and suffered even deeper levels of poverty and social neglect.  The African American communities of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama along the Gulf were disproportionately impacted.

The damage done to the eighth and ninth wards provided a rationale for mass removals in New Orleans. Public housing complexes shuttered and neighborhood housing residents were not provided with any assistance to relocate and rebuild.

Thousands were placed in makeshift government housing where they suffered further injury and isolation. In cities as far away as Detroit, dislocated African Americans and others were warehoused in hotels for months until they were told by the government that they could no longer house them.

After ten years most African Americans are still living outside Louisiana and the Gulf region with no prospects of returning to their homes. Whole neighborhoods remain in ruins with damaged homes, churches, schools and businesses that have not been able to reopen. The New Orleans public schools were turned over to a charter system leaving teachers and other educational workers unemployed.

In a recent article published by the German newspaper Deutsche Welle (DW), a woman named Meghan Sullivan, who works as an ultrasound technician now living in Houston, Texas, told the media outlet that her family could not afford to relocate in New Orleans. (August 30)
Mass Migration Deaths Caused by Imperialist Foreign Policy
Destabilization of Africa, the Middle East and Asia prompts millions to flee

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

There was yet another gruesome discovery of over 70 dead migrants in Austria on a highway between Budapest and Vienna where thousands are seeking refuge. These deaths compounded approximately 100 others who died after their vessel capsized in route to Europe.

Inside the truck in Austria people had apparently suffocated while being illegally transported from the Mediterranean into Southern and Eastern Europe.

Austrian governmental officials announced on August 28 that 71 refugees, including an infant girl, were found dead in what appeared to be an abandoned freezer truck.  During the same day Libyan naval units recovered the bodies of 105 migrants who were washed ashore apparently after an overcrowded boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea on its way to Europe.

These deaths are occurring due an upsurge in migrants running away from war and poverty that has been initiated by United States and European Union foreign policies.  United Nations officials and other international agencies concerned with migration have reported since last year that the number of internally displaced persons and refugees are higher today than any period since the conclusion of World War II.

The International Organization for Migration has revealed that over 330,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year. Consequently, the number deaths are ranging in the thousands and there no reasons to believe that more of these tragedies will not occur in the short term.

Impact of Imperialist Wars Span Several Continents

These recent mass deaths are by no means isolated incidents. A pattern of dislocation has been rising steadily since the wars of regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Libya and Nigeria from 2001 until the present.  

Also the growing class divisions and economic difficulties in other Asian and African states are creating tensions which foster migration. Some of the states which are impacted by this global crisis include Morocco in North Africa, Nigeria in West Africa and Bangladesh in South Asia.

When the U.S. and its NATO allies went to war against the Taliban government in Afghanistan they claimed that it was designed to end “terrorism” and ensure stability in Central Asia.

However, some fourteen years later hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives in both Afghanistan and Pakistan with many more leaving the country as a result of the ongoing fighting between forces in support and in opposition to the Washington-imposed regime in Kabul.

Going back over 35 years, the U.S. waged a war against the socialist-oriented government in Afghanistan that was supported by the-then Soviet Union. Washington funded, trained and coordinated Islamic fighters which led to the formation of al-Qaeda and the eventual ascendancy of the Taliban between the late 1970s up until the 1990s.

In Iraq beginning with the military build-up and invasion during 2002-2003, some estimates claim that over one million people have died. War still rages between the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Iraqi government in Baghdad causing a new wave of outmigration.

Both Syria and Libya were targeted for regime-change in 2011 through the support of pro-western groups, militias and massive bombing campaigns. Over four million Syrians have left the country many of whom are now seeking refuge in Europe.

The situation in the Horn of Africa is largely the result of successive U.S. administrations meddling in the affairs of the region. Somalia has been a major source for Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) interventions since the late 1970s when the administration of Jimmy Carter won over the regime of Mohamed Siad Barre and encouraged it to invade Ethiopia which was undergoing a socialist revolution supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba.

Coinciding with the weakening of the USSR, the regime of Mikhail Gorbachev halted support for the Ethiopian government of Mengistu Haile Miriam. After the overthrow of the Workers Party state in Addis Ababa in 1991, the U.S. the following year invaded and occupied Somalia under the guise of a humanitarian mission.

Somalians rose up against the occupation in 1993 prompting a withdrawal by the Pentagon and the United Nations peacekeeping forces. Nonetheless, Washington would continue to seek domination of Somalia through an invasion by the current western-oriented regime in Ethiopia in 2006 and the formation of a regional African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) 22,000-member military force now operating inside the country.

All of these geo-political regions have their nationals being lured by human traffickers across borders in Asia, the Middle East and Africa with the promise of prosperity in Europe. However, Europe itself has serious economic crisis particularly in southern states such as Greece.  

EU Divided Over Migrant Crisis

These deaths of migrants totaling nearly 3,000 this year, poses a problem for the EU due to the financial instability inside the imperialist states. Many migrants have entered Greece where the most serious economic downturn has taken place leaving millions in poverty and uncertainty stemming from the U.S. as well as Northern and Western European capitalist states’ terms of loan repayments and imposed economic conditionalities.

Italy has experienced a large wave of migration in recent months. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says that over 65 percent of the people seeking entry into Europe this year have crossed over into Greece and Italy.  (Reuters, August 28)

The International Business Times reported on August 30 that recent migrants are being trafficked heavily through the Balkans.

An article from this publication says “Investigations will likely focus on the Balkans region, which has now reportedly become the primary route for people-smuggling gangs transporting migrants and refugees from the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia into Western Europe. Between January and July this year, 102,342 people crossed into Austria via the western Balkans, more than 10,000 higher than the total which entered Europe via the so-called ‘Central Mediterranean’ route, according to data from Frontex, the EU border control agency.”

In a recent Washington Post analysis of the crisis written by Anthony Failoa and Michael Birnbaum, they acknowledge the criticism of the EU system for its failure to develop a sound and rational immigration policy. Earlier in June, the regional organization sought to handle the burgeoning migration into Europe through military means by halting, boarding and returning vessels where migrants were being transported.

The Washington Post authors say “Perhaps nowhere is that more true than in Hungary, the nation the perished migrants were smuggled through. This former Soviet bloc country, now led by right-wing nationalists, is fast emerging as the toughest obstacle for a record number of refugees trying to reach Europe from war-torn Syria, Iraq and other nations.” (August 31)

This same report continues noting that “Hungary is building a 109-mile-long razor-wire fence on its southern border meant to keep out migrants. But as they come ashore in Greece, then try to reach the wealthy core of Europe – nations such as Germany, Sweden and Austria – the asylum-seekers’ path to sanctuary runs straight through Hungary.”

Although Germany is portraying a more humane posture related to the latest migrant crisis they are not burdened with the same problems as the lesser developed states on the continent. The EU states have failed to agree on a uniform policy of quotas and methods of processing migrants.

“The problem is that the European system is dysfunctional, and when a system is dysfunctional, refugees are going to put themselves in danger,” according to Babar Baloch, the spokesman for UN High Commission for Refugees in Budapest. “Especially in Hungary, they are being pushed to take risks because they have no other legal way.” (Washington Post, August 31)
Pan-African Journal: Special Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Sun. Aug. 30, 2015--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
Listen to this special edition of the Pan-African Journal hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

To hear this broadcast just click on the website below:

During this program we will feature our regular PANW dispatches with information on the deaths of more than 200 migrants off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean several days earlier; the 500th day of the Chibok girls abduction in Nigeria has opened up criticism of the new government of President Muhammadu Buhari; a HIV vaccine is scheduled to be tested in Zimbabwe later this year; and finally the United Nations in currently evaluating the progress of women in Africa twenty years after the Beijing Declaration on gender equality.

During the second and third hours we conclude the month-long commemoration of Black August.

We continue with the examination of the life and legacy of the late controversial Black Panther Party Minister of Information Eldridge Cleaver on the 80th anniversary of his birth.

This segment reviews a 1971 press conference held by Cleaver in Algiers where he headed the International Section of the BPP.

We then present another radio broadcast on the assassination of Hugo Pinell who was killed on the prison yard at New Folsom in California on Aug. 12.
Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Sat. Aug. 29, 2015--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
Listen to this edition of the Pan-African Journal hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

To hear this broadcast just click on the website below:

This broadcast features our regular PANW dispatches dealing with the 500th day of captivity for over 200 girls from the Chibok school in northeastern Nigeria; the African Union will hold a joint summit with India to discuss mutual interests between the two geo-political regions; Sudan is attempting to settle border disputes with neighboring Ethiopia while President Bashir is hosting the ousted fugitive president of Yemen who is backed by Saudi Arabia and the United States; South Sudan's government and rebels have signed a peace deal; and finally the homeless crisis in New York City has outstripped the worse days of the 1970s through the 1990s.

Our second and third hours highlight our continuing commemoration of Black August which recognizes the contributions of Africans in the struggle against racism, slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism.

This program reviews the assassination of George L. Jackson and the often controversial role of Eldridge Cleaver, who served as Minister of Information of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.
Boko Haram Kills Around 80 Villagers in Northeast Nigeria
Mon Aug 31, 2015 5:27PM

Takfiri Boko Haram militants have shot dead nearly 80 people after they stormed three villages in Nigeria’s crisis-stricken northeastern state of Borno, a vigilante and residents say.

Babakura Kolo, a member of youth vigilante forces in northern Nigeria, said on Monday that more than five dozen people lost their lives after heavily-armed militants attacked Baanu village in Borno state around 8.30 pm (1930 GMT) late on Friday.

"Reports reached us of an attack on Baanu village late Friday where Boko Haram gunmen riding on horses opened fire on the village. Sixty-eight people were killed in the attack," AFP quoted Kolo as saying.

Meanwhile, Aisami Ari, a Baanu resident who fled the attack to state's capital, Maiduguri, on Saturday, has also confirmed the militant raid and the death toll. "The attackers came on horses around 8.30 pm and began shooting sporadically. The whole village was thrown into confusion and everybody fled. We returned after they had gone and found out they had killed 68 people in the village."

Separately, at least four people were gunned down in another attack by the militant group in nearby Karnuwa village on Saturday.

"They shot dead four people in the village, including the chief imam of the village, his son and two neighbors," Kolo noted.

Meanwhile, Saleh Musa, a local resident has spoken about a third militant attack Sunday on Hambagda, where they killed seven people and injured five others.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who came to power in late May, replaced the heads of the army, navy, air force and his chief of defense staff in an effort to re-energize the fight against Boko Haram.

The terrorist group has since stepped up its attacks. According to an AFP count, bombings, a wave of raids and attacks have left at least 1,000 people dead in Nigeria alone in less than three months.

The Boko Haram militancy began in 2009, when the terrorist group started an armed rebellion against the government of Nigeria. Amnesty International says 17,000 people have been killed since then.

The militancy has spilled over into Nigeria’s neighboring countries. Troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger have been battling the terrorists in recent months.

Nigeria's neighbors, which have all suffered attacks by Boko Haram, set up a regional force earlier this year to end the conflict.
Tens of Thousands March in Austria Against Abuse of Refugees
Tue Sep 1, 2015 12:56AM

Tens of thousands of protesters have taken part in a massive rally in Austria’s capital Vienna against the maltreatment of asylum seekers and the European Union's failure in tackling the persisting refugee crisis.

The Monday protest march, which began at the city’s Westbahnhof train station, came amid surging anger in Europe following the discovery of the bodies of 71 refugees in an abandoned truck in Austria last week.

Protesters gather in Vienna on August 31, 2015 to demonstrate against the ill-treatment of asylum seekers after the bodies of 71 refugees were found in an abandoned truck last week. (AFP photo)
Carrying large banners reading "Refugees welcome" and "I don't want Europe to be a mass grave," protesters representing all age groups then marched down a major shopping thoroughfare, AFP reported.

This is while a large part of the capital city had been cordoned off by police forces in anticipation of the protest rally.

According to the report, the protest participants, many dressed in white, then converged in front of the parliament building, where they lit a sea of candles.

Refugees stand in the Eastern (Keleti) railway station of Budapest behind of a line of the local police on August 31, 2015, as the last train left in the direction of Austria and Germany. (AFP photo)
In a speech before the demonstrators, protest organizer Nadia Rida accused European government authorities of "political failure" and "inhumane treatment" of refugees.

"See how many we are -- we too can move things," she added during her emotional address.

Meanwhile, a service was held for the victims at a local cathedral, where the archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, addressed the congregation, which included senior government authorities, saying, "We've had enough -- enough of the deaths, the suffering and the persecution."

He further stated that it was "too awful" to think of the plight of the asylum seekers in the truck, four of whom were children.

The rally and the service took place shortly after trains packed with refugees arrived from Hungary after being halted at the border for several hours.

Protest rallies were also held in Germany and Serbia to highlight the refugee crisis. In the German city of Leipzig, thousands of pro-refugee activists marched against an offshoot of a racist movement known as PEGIDA.
Yemenis on Both Sides of Civil War Gearing Up for Key Battle in Central Province
Ansurallah fighers in Yemen.

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen's warring factions on Sunday braced for a key battle in a central province, where victory could allow pro-government forces to move rapidly north into the heartland of the country's Shiite rebels.

Security officials from both sides said the focus was now on Marib, an oil-rich province that supplies the rebel-held capital of Sanaa with electricity and fuel, after months of combat and airstrikes that have killed some 2,000 civilians, according to the U.N.

Western-backed pro-Hadi forces have recently tightened their grip on the province's capital, also called Marib, while the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, have consolidated their positions on its outskirts, digging trenches and laying mines in nearby Jawf, security officials from both sides and witnesses said.

If pro-government forces manage to push the rebels out of Marib, they could potentially advance rapidly across Jawf, a flat, desert province bordering Saudi Arabia that is also a gateway to Saada, the rebels' northern stronghold, where Saudi planes have been dropping flyers urging people to support the "legitimate" government of internationally-recognized president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Yemen's conflict pits the Houthis and allied units of the splintered army against forces loyal to Hadi as well as southern separatists, local militias and Sunni Islamic militants. Hadi and his government are in exile in Saudi Arabia.

In their foothold in Marib, the pro-government forces were joined earlier this week by hundreds of Yemeni fighters, fresh from military training in neighboring Saudi Arabia, which has been leading the Arab coalition launching airstrikes against the Houthis since March, pro-government security officials said.

Since last week, the anti-rebel forces have set up camp for military experts from United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and renovated a local oil company's airport, which received the latest planes carrying military equipment from the coalition on Sunday, the officials added. At least six Apaches have landed thus far, they said.

Meanwhile, the Houthis in Saada tried and failed to persuade one of Yemen's most senior military officials who claims neutrality and controls many troops, Maj. Gen. Hafzullah Sedmi, to bolster their forces in Marib.

Nevertheless, former President Saleh said his forces, along with the Houthis, are "waiting" for the pro-government forces, in a televised speech on his Yemen Today channel.

The anti-rebel forces, pro-government security officials said, aim to push north to Jawf rather than the mountainous capital of Sanaa, because Houthi fighters there are less vulnerable to the Saudi airstrikes. If the pro-government forces seize Jawf, the officials said, they will move on to Saada instead of Sanaa.

Officials have also prioritized Saada over the capital because its fall, as the main Houthi encampment, would be a greater moral blow to the rebels, activist and analyst Nabil al-Mohamedi told The Associated Press.

Also, if pro-government forces capture Sanaa first, they would appear to have won the civil war, making attacks on Saada seem cruel and unnecessary in the eyes of the international community, al-Mohamedi added.

Earlier Sunday, gunmen on a motorcycle shot dead the local head of security, Gen. Abdel-Hakim al-Saneedi, while he was driving on a busy street in the southern port city of Aden. No one claimed Sunday's attack, but officials suspect al-Qaida because the group has used motorcycles in previous assassinations and hitting a moving target from a speeding motorcycle requires specialized training.

Last week, high-ranking police officials in Aden said hundreds of al-Qaida militants and Islamic extremists had moved into the port city, exploiting a vacuum left by pro-government forces pushing north.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief reporters.
AI Confirms Saudi-led Coalition Kills Yemeni People by American-made Bombs
NEW YORK, Aug. 31 (Saba) – Amnesty International (AI) confirmed on Monday that the Saudi- led coalition used American-made bombs and internationally banned weapons in its aggression against the Yemeni people.

In its recent report entitled "The human carnage of Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen" about the worsening of the humanitarian situation in Yemen since the beginning of the aggression, the report indicated that more than 80 percent of the population are in need of humanitarian assistance.

“Coalition forces have blatantly failed to take necessary precautions to minimize civilian casualties, an obligation under international humanitarian law. Indiscriminate attacks that result in death or injury to civilians amount to war crimes,” said Donatella Rovera.

The AI organization considered that the US administration is also responsible for war crimes in Yemen because of Washington is doing to provide intelligence and to provide the Saudi aircrafts fuel.

She warned of the disastrous effects that threaten the Yemeni people because of US arms, asserting the weapons and ammunition that would have been exploding will leave a legacy of toxic effects for years to come, indicating that civilians are paying the price of this war.

"Even if the intended target had in fact been an arms cache this would not justify such a deadly attack on homes full of civilians without prior warning. Those planning the airstrike must have known it was likely to result in high civilian casualties and failed to take the necessary steps under international humanitarian law," said Donatella Rovera.

For this purpose Amnesty International investigated eight airstrikes in different parts of the country, including multiple strikes in the capital, Sana’a, on 12 and 13 June and in Tai’z on 16 June. In total, the eight incidents killed 54 civilians (27 children, 16 women and 11 men) including a one-day-old infant, and injured 55, (19 children, 19 women and 17 men).

Since the beginning of the Saudi Arabian-led military intervention on 25 March 2015, Amnesty International has investigated 17 separate airstrikes in five areas of Yemen. These incidents killed at least 223 people, including at least 197 civilians (32 women, 68 children) and injured 419, including at least 259 civilians.
There Are 21 Million in Need of Humanitarian Aid in Yemen
Mark Kaye
Monday 31 August 2015 05.06 EDT

Night after night in Yemen’s beleaguered capital, Sana’a, I hear the continuous clack-clack-clack of anti-aircraft fire and the low hum of fighter jets overhead. I’m writing this sat in the corner of my bathroom, the “safe” space farthest from the window. It’s almost midnight and the electricity has cut again, leaving the glow of my laptop screen as the only light.

My thoughts turn to my colleagues and friends, who are almost certainly awake as well with their families. This perpetual state of fear is nothing new. It’s been going on since the conflict started over five months ago and people are terrified that things could be about to get even worse.

More than 1,000 children have been killed or injured – a number that rises every day. This war has left Yemen, already the poorest country in the region, mired in a humanitarian crisis.

Coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia have been conducting a bombing campaign to try to force out rebels from the Houthi sect, who overran the country in March, and restore the previous government.

Conflict has since spread to 20 of Yemen’s 22 provinces. Ordinary people have paid the price for the violence – 21 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance now, more than anywhere in the world, including Syria. The UN estimates that some 2,000 people have been killed so far, nearly a quarter of them children.

The crisis has been compounded by the fact that getting aid into Yemen and transporting it around the country is very limited. Aid agencies like Save the Children are frantically trying to scale up our response, but it’s almost impossible when we can’t get relief supplies into the country. The recent bombing of Hodeida port – the key entry point for supplies to the hungry people in the north and centre of the country – was the last straw, putting the aid effort in jeopardy at a time when people are running out of food, water and medicine.

Now rumours are rife that an escalation of attacks on the capital by Saudi-led coalition forces is imminent, in an attempt to drive out the Houthi opposition. If that happens, aid agencies could be forced to pull out altogether or to order their staff to stay indoors. The impact on one of the world’s most vulnerable populations would be devastating.

People are already desperate – I met a mother yesterday who had sold her family’s last mattress to buy her three-year-old son medicine. Now she and her children sleep on the cold, hard ground. She has nothing left to sell.

Everywhere I go people talk about food, or rather the lack of it. The spectre of famine is stalking large areas of the country. Yemen is slowly being strangled by a de facto blockade that prevents enough food and medicine getting to the families who need them most. If we don’t act soon, thousands of children will die from hunger-related causes before the year is out.

Across the country civilian infrastructure, including health facilities, markets, shops and schools, has been damaged and destroyed by airstrikes and ground war. For too long all parties to this conflict have been allowed by the international community to show an unashamed contempt for human life. More than 1,000 children have been killed or injured – a number that rises every day.

Many of the families I’ve met here have asked me why Yemen has been abandoned to its fate. The truth is I am often left wondering the same thing myself. I cannot tell them that Yemen is not popular with opinion-formers and leaders, not a cause cĂ©lebre. What keeps me awake at night, besides the unnerving hum of fighter jets and crackle of artillery fire, is the fear that the world won’t understand the tragedy that is unfolding here until it’s too late.

Monday, August 31, 2015

South Africa Economy is Ill, Admits Zuma
August 31 2015 at 07:30am
By Dineo Faku

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma on Sunday acknowledged that the South African economy was “sick” as he launched the first unit of Eskom’s new Medupi power station in Limpopo.

Zuma threw down the gauntlet to labour and business to put the country first as the domestic and global economies faced headwinds. “Should we not come together and recognise the economy is sick? You cannot say it is business as usual when the economy is sick… Should we not talk about business and labour tightening the belt?” asked Zuma.

The country’s economy moved close to recession, which is a drop in gross domestic product (GDP) in two consecutive quarters, in the second quarter with GDP contracting by 1.3 percent after growing by 1.3 percent in the previous quarter.


Two of South Africa’s partners in the Brics group of five countries, Russia and Brazil, are both already in recession. Statistics SA figures showed that only the government, transport and retail sectors had grown in the second quarter while agriculture, mining and manufacturing declined.

The mining and manufacturing sectors, in particular steel, have announced plans to cut thousands of jobs amid declining commodity prices and subdued demand from China.

The rand’s decline, which saw the unit hit record lows to the dollar last week, is also a headache for the economy.

“If the private sector says let us cut labour because the economy is not doing well, I don’t think it is good,” Zuma said.

“With regard to labour, for it to say we don’t care what happens, we want higher wages. This will impact on the government,” he added.

The first Medupi unit, known as unit 6, will add 794 megawatts of power to the national grid and is the first new power station to open in South Africa in 20 years. Its planned operational life is 50 years. Once completed it would be the fourth-largest coal-fired plant and the largest dry-cooled power station in the world, the government said.

Zuma said that while energy shortages remained a “serious challenge” for South Africa, the opening of the Medupi unit showed progress was being made. “Shortage of energy does not only cause enormous inconvenience, it is a serious impediment to economic growth,” Zuma said.

“Pressure is being alleviated. There is light at the end of the tunnel,” Zuma said.

“There’s no time to waste,” Zuma said, adding that the utility appreciated the need to bring the rest of the station online without further delay. “We must move faster as a country.”

The first of six units at the plant will help Eskom address blackouts that have hobbled South Africa’s economy for 99 days this year. Its launch also came after 22 days of no power cuts at Eskom despite the Koeberg power station being shut for maintenance.

However, South Africa is not yet out of the woods.

“We are not saying there will be no load shedding. We will keep load shedding to a minimum,” Eskom acting chief executive Brian Molefe told journalists yesterday on the sidelines of the launch.

The utility would adhere to strict project management principles to avoid delays and cost overruns that saw Medupi power station’s price tag swell to R105 billion, he added.

The increase in the budget is due to labour disputes and construction delays and mean that the project was now due for completion in 2019, seven years behind schedule.

“We will ensure that timelines are adhered to,” he said.

Medupi, which saw construction start in May 2007 to address power shortages, was delayed by a seven-week long unprotected strike last year over bonuses, which threatened to prolong load shedding.

Abram Masango, Eskom’s executive for group capital, blamed under-estimation for the escalation of costs at Medupi. Masango noted that only 10 percent of the costs at Medupi had increased as a result of cost overruns, adding that it was normal for costs to escalate in capital projects.

* Additional reporting by Bloomberg and Reuters
Zuma in China for WWll Celebrations
31 August 2015 at 05:25
by ANA

President Jacob Zuma will attend the 70th anniversary of the end of the occupation of China and WW ll, in Beijing next week, the presidency said on Sunday.

President Jacob Zuma will attend the 70th anniversary of the end of the occupation of China and WW ll, in Beijing next week, the presidency said on Sunday.

Zuma had been invited by Chinese President Xi Jinping to participate in the celebrations in Beijing on September 3, the presidency said in a statement.

Apart from participating in the celebrations, it was anticipated that presidents Zuma and Xi would hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of the event.

Zuma and his delegation were expected to assess the status of progress on key areas identified under the Five-to-Ten-Year Strategic Programme for Co-operation, discuss preparations for South Africa’s hosting of the Forum for China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) summit on December 4 and 5, and provide an update on developments pertaining to the African Regional Centre (ARC) with regard to the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) New Development Bank. China hosts the headquarters of the recently launched BRICS Development Bank, based in Shanghai.

South Africa’s relations with China were at the level of a comprehensive strategic partnership (CSP), with the bilateral relationship being among the most vibrant and strategic, the presidency said.

During Zuma’s state visit to China in December last year, the two countries concluded the Five-to-Ten-Year Strategic Programme for Co-operation between South Africa and China.

Six priority areas were identified as the focus of the strategic relationship for 2015.

These were alignment of industries to accelerate South Africa’s industrialisation process, enhancement of co-operation in Special Economic Zones (SEZs), enhancement of marine co-operation, infrastructure development, human resource co-operation, and financial co-operation.

Zuma would be accompanied by International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and Deputy Energy Minister Thembisile Majola, the presidency said.
German Media and Celebs Rally for Refugees After Ugly Protests
By Eloi Rouyer
August 29, 2015 8:25 PM

Refugees celebrate with leftist sympathizers at a shelter for asylum seekers on August 29, 2015 in Heidenau, eastern Germany

Berlin (AFP) - Germany may have witnessed violent anti-refugee protests this week -- but the message from the country's media and celebrities is a loud and determined welcome for people fleeing the horrors of war.

The tabloid, which has launched a high-profile charity campaign to assist refugees, also ran an editorial by Nobel-winning writer Herta Mueller titled: "I was also a refugee."

The editorial recalled how hundreds of thousands of Germans fled their country during Nazi rule.

"Everyone who fled into exile from the Nazis was saved... Germany must do what other countries had done earlier for the Germans," wrote Mueller.

"We have the responsibility given the past. But beyond that, sympathy is an act of humanity. Those who no longer know that have a brutal concept of homeland that once drove Germans out of Germany," she wrote.

Refugee children play in the courtyard of their shelter for asylum-seekers at the former Wilmersdorf …
Germany is expecting an unprecedented 800,000 asylum-seekers this year as Europe grapples with its biggest migration crisis since World War II.

While many believe that Germany's wealth -- combined with the dark legacy of its Nazi past -- mean it has a unique responsibility to provide safe haven to the persecuted, not everyone has been happy to see refugee centres springing up across the country.

A spate of arson attacks have hit these shelters, and far-right protesters have organised noisy and sometimes violent demonstrations against refugees.

Hostility is strongest in the former communist east, which still lags behind the west in terms of jobs and opportunities a quarter-century after reunification.

In that context, the eastern town of Heidenau has become a symbol of Germany's struggle to absorb the massive arrivals, with dozens injured in clashes last weekend between police and extreme-right activists opposing the opening of a new refugee centre there.

View galleryAnti-racism protesters hold a banner reading "Refugees …
Anti-racism protesters hold a banner reading "Refugees welcome" during a rally on August 2 …
When Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the centre this week to show her support, she was booed by a crowd who called her a traitor.

Many media outlets have added their voices to Bild's.

News magazine Der Spiegel ran two different covers this week: the first, titled "Dark Germany", showed a refugee centre in flames; the second, titled "Bright Germany" bore a message of hope, with migrant children releasing balloons into the sky.

"It's up to us to decide how we're going to live. We have the choice," the magazine said.

In Munich, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper offered its readers a practical guide for how to donate clothes and food to the new arrivals.

'Germany is rediscovering itself'

A slew of celebrities, too, have come out in support.

"Dear refugees, it's good that you're here," German Real Madrid player Toni Kroos said in comments reported by the press, "because it allows us to test our values and show respect to others."

The actor Til Schweiger is among the most prominent pro-migrant voices in German showbiz, while rock singer Udo Lindenberg is hoping to organise a major Berlin concert against anti-migrant hate, slated for October 4.

This is not the first time Germany has seen a jump in racist crimes -- nor the first time it has witnessed an outpouring of calls for tolerance in response.

In 2000, then chancellor Gerhard Schroeder called for an "uprising of decent people" after a synagogue was burned down in the western city of Duesseldorf.

Germany is "a tolerant and open country", Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere insisted in a weekend interview with the newspaper Die Welt, blasting those who "believe they represent the silent majority when they prey on foreigners".

In an editorial entitled "Who we are", the paper said that in spite of the xenophobic attacks, the positive response from ordinary Germans is "changing the face of Germany", a nation that is "in the process of rediscovering itself" by welcoming large numbers of people in need.

In January, a survey by the non-profit Bertelsmann Foundation found the German public largely sympathetic to the refugees; 60 percent said they were ready to welcome the newcomers, up from 49 percent three years ago.

But the study noted that the country remains divided on whether immigration is an opportunity for Europe's economic powerhouse, or a burden.

In Dresden -- capital of the eastern Saxony state that has borne the brunt of the anti-migrant violence -- thousands took to the streets on Saturday to take a stand against the xenophobic attacks.

"Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here," they chanted.