Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Nigeria Claims Boko Haram Leader ‘Fatally Wounded’ in Air Raid
Wall Street Journal
Aug. 23, 2016 3:48 p.m. ET

ABUJA, Nigeria—Nigeria’s military claimed Tuesday that its airstrikes had killed several top Boko Haram commanders and “fatally wounded” the group’s leader Abubakar Shekau, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Africa’s most populous nation for talks on counterterrorism strategy.

The military said an “unprecedented and spectacular air raid” had hit the militants as they were performing Friday prayers in the sprawling Sambisa forest, the main base for a jihadist insurgency that is estimated to have left some 20,000 people dead and one million homeless.

Mr. Shekau, who in recent months has been embroiled in a power struggle to lead the militant group, was “fatally wounded on his shoulders,” the military said.

The claims of Mr. Shekau’s demise were impossible to verify independently and left several unanswered questions, including how the severity of Mr. Shekau’s wounds were gauged.

The military has declared Mr. Shekau dead on at least three previous occasions, only for a man claiming to be the Boko Haram leader reappear on videos. The militant Islamist group had no immediate response to Tuesday’s announcement by the military.

Col. Sani Usman, an army spokesman, said there was no reason to doubt the “authentic and very clear” information.

“We have a process through which the military confirms it’s information... we’re not going to make that public because we’re in a state of war,” he said.

The report of Mr. Shekau’s alleged death came as Mr. Kerry arrived in Nigeria for meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari. In a speech in the northern city of Sokoto, the secretary didn’t mention the military’s announcement. He instead reiterated Washington’s support for Nigeria’s fight against terrorism and cautioned its leaders against collective punishment.

“It is understandable that, in the wake of terrorist activity, some are tempted to crack down on anyone and everyone who could theoretically pose some sort of threat. But extremism can’t be defeated through repression or fear,” Mr. Kerry said.

Mr. Buhari has for months been lobbying the White House to allow Nigeria to buy a dozen A-29 Super Tucano ground attack airplanes to bolster the fight against Boko Haram. Washington blocked arms sales to Mr. Buhari’s predecessor Goodluck Jonathan, partly over human-rights concerns such as treatment of captured insurgents.

Boko Haram, which last year pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been on the defensive in recent months after President Buhari revamped the military’s counterterrorism strategy. He reshuffled top commanders, deployed more artillery and air assets, and promoted a regional coalition of five militaries to pool battlefield tactics against the jihadists.

Greater military coordination with neighboring Cameroon and Chad and help from the U.S. have pushed the jihadists to withdraw deep into the Sambisa forest in northeastern Nigeria in recent months. Hundreds of the girls and boys the jihadists kidnapped for use as sex slaves and child soldiers have escaped.

Since Boko Haram pledged support to Islamic State last year, the group appears to have split into two main factions: one led by Mr. Shekau and another—backed by Islamic State—led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi.

Nigerian security analysts have suggested that the power struggle and recent battlefield defeats have dramatically weakened the group, making the prospect of negotiations with the government more likely.

Earlier this month Mr. Shekau’s faction called for a prisoner swap with Mr. Buhari’s government, releasing a video appearing to show some of the 276 schoolgirls they kidnapped two years ago from the remote northern town of Chibok.

Monday, August 22, 2016

NATO Nostalgia Is No Strategy
Saturday 20TH posted by Morning Star in Editorial

BLAIRITE backbencher Wes Streeting tells us that Jeremy Corbyn’s reluctance to pledge that he would declare war on Russia if it invaded a Nato country amounts to a “gross betrayal of Labour’s internationalist values.”

It might seem that way to the humanitarian bomber wing of the Labour Party whose concept of internationalism stretches little further than ordering air strikes.

But it must surely seem a little foolhardy, even in the midst of an election contest during which many anti-Corbyn MPs have lost their grip on what is acceptable comment, to suggest that conflict with Russia is advisable.

But, of course, they will say, that’s not what we mean. We just want to see a united front of Nato members telling Russia to withdraw its forces.

How, in that case, does this stance differ from Corbyn’s response that he “would obviously try to avoid that happening in the first place, you would build up a good dialogue with Russia to ask them and support them in respecting borders?”

The Labour leader stressed the need for an inclusive approach involving the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which includes all European states.

He spoke out against a military build-up leading to a “calamitous, incredibly dangerous situation,” which will not endear himself to arms-traffickers, but it makes sense.

Even his challenger Owen Smith was forced, having postured over the need “to come to the aid of a fellow member of Nato,” to admit that this “would be calamitous and we must never see that happen.”

Smith stressed the importance of improving diplomatic links with Russia, which is the only sensible way forward for Europe.

Many British politicians remain beset by imperial nostalgia, believing that Westminster has a right and responsibility to read the Riot Act to the world — at least those bits outside Nato. This translates easily from “we must do something” hand-wringing to the least costly and least effective option of bombing, but this would not work with Moscow.

Russia’s reduction to the status of an international joke in the 1990s, when bumbling drunk Boris Yeltsin allowed transnational corporations and domestic oligarchs to loot the country, engendered a great deal of national resentment.

His successor Vladimir Putin presides over an authoritarian regime, with severe limitations in democracy and human rights.

But he has restored the strength of Russia’s armed forces and his national standing owes much to people’s memory of their country’s humiliation under Yeltsin and their reluctance to return to such a state.

Nato ought not to exist any more since the Warsaw Treaty dissolved itself in 1991.

Corbyn was right to say last year that this “cold war organisation” ought to have been wound up at the same time as its rival, while accepting that there is little appetite in Britain for that to happen.

Whether it continues to exist is possibly of less importance than what it does while it’s here.

None of the European members of Nato has the capacity to challenge Russia militarily, so all tough talking by Britain or relatively new Nato members in eastern Europe previously linked to the Soviet bloc has resonance only because of the US connection.

In contrast, Washington is currently examining an alternative scenario of working together with Russia to improve matters in hot spots such as Syria.

That’s the position favoured openly by Corbyn and, even, when you scratch the surface, by Smith, so who, apart from arms traffickers, has any interest in promoting tension on Russia’s borders in Europe?
Brexit Must Be Steered Left
Tuesday 23RD posted by Morning Star in Editorial

ON A Mediterranean island, the leaders of Germany, France and Italy are thrashing out their preferred terms for Britain to leave the EU.

And it should come as no surprise either that teams of City financiers and Whitehall civil servants are working on how they want to play the exit negotiations.

The British ruling class is one of the most experienced and strategically minded on the planet. Its thinkers and planners will be considering all the options and contingencies.

At the core of that ruling class are the financial monopoly capitalists, whose investments span not only the financial sector here but across much of the globe.

British elites also exercise decisive control over almost every branch of industry through their key shareholdings, interlocking directorships and stranglehold over banking and credit.

They have spearheaded the drive for deregulation, privatisation and capitalist globalisation.

Most of the City’s fat cats and their institutions wanted the people of Britain to vote Remain in the May 23 referendum on EU membership.

They recognised the leading role played by the EU in breaking down barriers to big business profiteering, not only within Europe but also through global bodies such as the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund, as well as through trade and investment pacts with other major players in the capitalist world market.

They also understood that much of the EU bluster about financial regulation, subsidiarity and a “social Europe” is largely window-dressing.

They had applauded the EU as it rescued their devalued bonds by pounding the people of Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus into penury.

But now these same monopolists have to deal with the democratic vote to take Britain out of the EU.

The British Bankers Association, TheCityUK and other bodies want a bilateral agreeement with the EU which maintains a Europe-wide “free market” in financial services.

They fear a loss of lucrative business in London bailing out financial contracts denominated in euros.

The same kind of “free market” would also aim to preserve the freedom to export capital from Britain to Europe and the rest of world, together with the right to establish financial businesses anywhere in the EU.

The central involvement of  Baroness Vadera, Lord Mandelson and other New Labourites in this strategy should ring alarm bells in the labour movement.

The free movement of capital and commodities — including super-exploited migrant labour — is neither a socialist nor even a progressive aspiration when financial monopolies are calling the shots.

The labour movement must clarify and unite around its own agenda for the EU negotiations to steer Brexit towards the left.

The preliminary agenda for next month’s Trades Union Congress displays encouraging signs that this is beginning to happen.

But rebuilding labour movement unity around such an approach needs to be based on two principled positions.

First, Britain should not remain in any European “free market” which prevents a British government from intervening to regulate, plan or nationalise any part of the economy.

Whether such action is to direct capital into productive industry, save the steel industry or outlaw inferior employment terms and conditions for migrant — or “posted” — workers, elected governments and parliaments must, like trade unions, be free to take action.

Second, the people’s vote to leave the EU must be respected and implemented, not blocked or rerun.

Anything less would be a violation of democracy and risk handing millions of votes to the right-wing nationalists of Ukip.
Slavery Is Far From A Thing Of The Past
Tuesday Aug 23RD posted by Morning Star in Features

HUGH McDYER reports on how Unison Cymru/Wales black members are tackling modern-day slavery head-on

UNISON has a proud history of empowering members and promoting independence in those who can be prone to discrimination.

Our black members group works to improve equality in the workplace and challenge racism wherever it exists.

This year, Cymru/Wales black members have decided to organise a high-profile anti-slavery event in Butetown, Cardiff. Tonight, in the company of trade unionists, activists, community leaders and politicians, we will mark International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.

We will also hear from Stephan Chapman, the Welsh government’s anti-human trafficking co-ordinator, about the growing, insidious phenomenon of modern slavery.

He has said that we must dispel the myth that trafficking is a hidden crime. It is more of a case that people haven’t been looking for it.

Kebba Manneh, chair of Unison Cymru/Wales black members, said: “It is vital we remember the awful scale of human suffering caused by the slave trade and commemorate the achievements of the abolition movement.

“When developing our campaigning for the year, this event was seen as a key to promote our work among our membership and the local community.

“In 2016, millions of people are trapped in appalling conditions we would term modern slavery. It is a horrible fact that slavery in Wales is on the rise.”

In 2015, 134 potential victims of slavery were reported in Wales. This is a 91 per cent increase on the previous year and represents 4 per cent of all UK referrals.

Using International Labour Organisation figures, the Human Trafficking Foundation says that there are more people in slavery today across the world than in the entire 350-year history of the transatlantic slave trade.

The message of this evening’s commemoration will be to remember our brothers and sisters who through their sacrifices brought about an end to the slave trade and we will call for solidarity throughout society to take action to ensure slavery in every form is eliminated.

We know that modern-day slavery has taken on new and different forms.

It is very likely to be happening somewhere near you and its effects can be felt across all levels of society.

It could be the woman trapped in servitude or trafficked into the sex trade, the man in forced labour or the child who has been trafficked by criminal gangs and suffered horrendous abuse.

Victims of modern slavery do not wear a label and this is why everyone has a role to play.

There have been positive, pro-active steps taken in Wales with the appointment of an anti-human trafficking co-ordinator.

There is a real opportunity for organisations and communities to pull together to combat modern slavery and trade unions will rightly play a significant part in this.

As the largest public-sector union in the UK and with 100,000 members in Wales, there is a role for Unison in educating our members and the wider community in recognising the signs of exploitation.
Victims of modern slavery will often be fearful and reluctant to seek any help.

Many come to Britain to try and escape abuse with the promise of a better life only to find they experience further exploitation.

Unison Cymru/Wales wants to work more closely with employers to ensure that procurement procedures are robust in ensuring that goods and services are procured from ethical sources. We are clear that this must include a thorough checking of a company’s background.

The Welsh government has published advice on the signs of slavery. Due to the nature of slavery and the reluctance or inability of those affected to seek help, you may not realise if you’ve come into contact with a victim.

Some of the things to look out for include:
Limited family contact
Physical abuse
Distrust of authority
Having no friends
Acting as if under another’s control
Appearing malnourished
Avoiding eye contact
Unable to speak any English

To report slavery you should call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121-700. There is also a telephone number providing support for victims: 0800 731-8147.

n Hugh McDyer is a Unison organiser responsible for Cymru/Wales black members.
Churches Split Over Black Lives Matter’s Criticism of Israel
Sam Kestenbaum
August 22, 2016

African American churches are split over Black Lives Matter’s stand on Israel, with younger clergymen rallying to the activists’ defense after a group of more conservative pastors rejected the group’s harsh criticism of the Jewish state.

The schism, which reflects broader divisions between emerging activists and more conservative leaders, was brought into sharper relief when a Black Lives Matter-affiliated platform came out on August 1, calling Israel an “apartheid state.”

Hundreds of black church leaders jumped to condemn the platform’s criticism of Israel. And on August 22 a group of six African-American leaders and advisors to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which serves some 9 million people altogether, also condemned the platform.

“It was a vitriolic attack against Israel laced with misinformation and anti-Semitism and an agenda that is not embraced by the broader African American community,” the clergymen said in a joint statement. “The anti-Semitism and misinformation found in this small segment is so misleading that it makes an experienced leader question the entire document and thus the intentions of the organization.”

But religious figures affiliated with Black Lives Matter dismissed the church leaders as “misguided.”

“Jesus was a Palestinian Jew,” said Nyle Fort, a young African-American minister aligned with Black Lives Matter. Jesus “lived under occupation and was ultimately lynched for speaking truth to power.”

The church leaders were criticizing a section of the Black Lives Matter-aligned platform that called Israel an “apartheid state” committing genocide against the Palestinians. The platform also called for free education for blacks and reparations for slavery.

As generations of black leaders have done before, the leaders pointed to the emotional legacy of the civil rights movement to stress the need for blacks and Jews to work together.

“Anyone who studies American history will no doubt find the names Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, two Jews and an African-American, who lost their lives trying to provide civil rights for blacks in the south,” wrote Bishop Lawrence M. Wooten, head of the council of churches that distanced themselves from Black Lives Matter’s Israel stance. “We cannot forget their noble sacrifices. Neither should Black Lives Matter.”

In many churches of yesteryear, “Israel was sacrosanct,” said Robin D. G. Kelley, a UCLA professor of black studies.

Israel was evoked as an ideal in the black prophetic tradition, Kelley said. This dates back to abolitionist figures like Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, who evoked Israel and Zion in their struggle for freedom.

Many in the Jewish community applauded Wooten’s words. The bishop’s support of Israel, the Jewish Press gushed, “should bring any self-loving Jew to tears.”

In Religion News Service, Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin wrote an earnest letter of thanks to the black clergy “that stood up to the anti-Israel forces in the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Mainstream American Jewry cherish the notion of the “golden era” of black-Jewish relations Wooten evoked in his letter. But it may not have been so golden.

African American and Jewish American activists and organizations did come together during the civil rights movement, but even then the dynamics were complex and often troubled, observed Cheryl Greenberg, author of “Troubling the Waters: Black-Jewish Relations in the American Century.”

African-Americans struggled even at the time, Greenberg said, with the ways in which most Jews did not recognize how “they benefited from white privilege.”

Now, despite the church council’s letter and its warm reception, a revival of those moments of fellowship is unlikely.

While a few left-wing organizations came out in support of the Black Lives Matter platform, most Jewish groups recoiled from the characterization of Israel. Some rejected the entire platform.

Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council condemned it, saying they “reject participation in any coalition that seeks to isolate and demonize Israel.”

Nyle Fort, a young minister, supports the Movement for Black Lives platform fully.

And, in fact, it was the St. Louis chapter of the JCRC that drew the church council’s attention to the controversy generated in the Jewish community by the new platform, the JTA reported.

But conservative black churches have taken a backseat in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Instead, there are more left-leaning clergy, like Rev. Traci Blackmon, Rev. Starsky Wilson and Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, who have emerged as what some call “Movement Pastors.” These are figures are, according to Black Lives Matter, “radically transforming the idea of what the 21st-century black church should be.”

On the Black Lives Matter website, the organization notes that today’s movement has “a very different relationship to the church than movements past.”

Today protesters “patently reject any conservative theology about keeping the peace, praying copiously, or turning the other cheek,” Black Lives Matter wrote in 2015 on their website.

Fort, who some said was “at the heart” of early Black Lives Matter protests, said he used to feel like he didn’t a place in the church.

“I was trying to fuse these two things together, my commitment to God and to social justice,” said Fort. “I was so upset… I felt like there were no churches I could go to and express my rage.”

So he forged his own path, leading protest infused with radical Christian liturgy.

Fort also went on a trip to Palestine last May and said he was transformed by the experience. Fort visited the sites where Jesus Christ is said to have walked, and described him as a “brown-skinned Palestinian Jew.”

“I think about the description of Jesus a lot,” Fort said, “and what it means for a black Christian to stand with Palestine.”

Conservative churches’ support of Israel appears to be irrelevant — or even antithetical to — a new generation of activists, Kelley said.

“It’s really so divided,” Kelley said.

Email Sam Kestenbaum at kestenbaum@forward.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum
Armed, Confederate Flag-waving White Lives Matter Protesters Rally Outside Houston NAACP
By Michael E. Miller
Washington Post
August 22 at 5:57 AM

White Lives Matter staged a rally outside the NAACP’s Houston headquarters on Sunday, sparking controversy and counterprotests in a city where racial tensions remain high after a string of recent incidents.

Clutching Confederate flags, white supremacist signs and, in several cases, assault rifles, roughly 20 White Lives Matter members stood on the sidewalk of a historically black neighborhood to denounce the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“We came out here specifically today to protest against the NAACP and their failure in speaking out against the atrocities that organizations like Black Lives Matter and other pro-black organizations have caused the attack and killing of white police officers, the burning down of cities and things of that nature,” organizer Ken Reed told the Houston Chronicle. “If they’re going to be a civil rights organization and defend their people, they also need to hold their people accountable.”

Reed, who was wearing a “Donald Trump ’16” hat and a “White Lives Matter” shirt with white supremacist symbols, said protesters were “not out here to instigate or start any problems,” despite the weaponry and body armor on display.

“Obviously we are exercising our Second Amendment rights but that’s because we have to defend ourselves,” he told the Chronicle. “Their organizations and their people are shooting people based on the color of their skin. We’re not.”

Reed appeared to be referring to attacks targeting white police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge last month, which were carried out by lone gunmen espousing black nationalist beliefs. (In Dallas a Latino officer was killed and in Baton Rouge, an African American officer was killed). Both Black Lives Matter and the NAACP denounced the attacks.

Sunday’s demonstration in Houston’s predominantly black Third Ward quickly spurred a counterprotest, which soon dwarfed the White Lives Matter gathering.

As police arrived and set up barricades around the White Lives Matter protesters, locals stood across the street. Some shouted, while others shook their heads in disbelief that Confederate flags were flying in front of an NAACP office in a black neighborhood.

“It’s a physical manifestation of white supremacy, white privilege and racism being protected by this country,” a black female counterprotester told KPRC2.

The White Lives Matter protest comes at a tense time for Houston and the country. On July 9, Houston police fatally shot a black man who they said pointed a gun at officers. The shooting, which came the same week as fatal police shootings of two other black men, one in Baton Rouge and another in Falcon Heights, Minn., prompted criticism from Black Lives Matter activists. The Houston shooting came two days after the attack on Dallas police.

Several other incidents in the city have raised racial tensions even further. At the University of Houston, the vice president of the Student Government Association was sanctioned after she wrote “Forget #BlackLivesMatter … More like AllLivesMatter” on Facebook shortly after the Dallas attack.

Earlier this month, authorities released video showing an African American woman calling 911 and saying she was “really afraid” of a white cop who had pulled her over. The woman was then violently arrested, although the officer was cleared of wrongdoing.

In May, city officials voted to rename seven schools named after people with ties to the Confederacy, including Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Jefferson Davis.

Last year, the University of Texas announced it was removing a statue of Davis from its campus in Austin, about 160 miles west of Houston.

Sunday’s rally was not the nation’s first White Lives Matter gathering. Others have drawn similarly small crowds, such as a July 30 protest in Buffalo that was organized by neo-Nazis and also was dwarfed by counterprotests.

Comments by the White Lives Matter protesters Sunday also seemed to echo opposition to the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse last summer. The flag was taken down after avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof allegedly killed nine African Americans at a church in Charleston.

“It has nothing to do with racism on our part,” Reed told the Chronicle in reference to the Confederate flags on display at Sunday’s protest. “We’re proud to be Southern. It has all to do about heritage, nothing to do with hate.”

In videos posted online by local news outlets, bystanders and counterprotesters, Reed appeared to be the leader of the demonstration.

He had appeared on television the day before to promote the rally.

“Attacks on white officers, the calling for the murder of white officers, the burning down of cities, the stopping of traffic in streets,” Reed told Fox26. “A cop or ambulance could be trying to take someone to the hospital where a matter of minutes matters, and [Black Lives Matter protesters] are stopping them from going. The NAACP is not speaking out against this and if you aren’t speaking out against it you are, in our eyes, condoning it.”

Whites were under attack, he claimed.

“We’re being told that it’s bad to be white,” he told the television station. “Every other race is encouraged to promote their heritage and culture, but as soon as a white person does it they are labeled as evil or racist.”

On Sunday, he stood out front of the NAACP office on Wheeler Avenue with a bullhorn.

“White Lives Matter refuses to feel any white guilt,” he shouted, according to a KPRC2 video.

“I ask Black Lives Matter and I ask the New Black Panther Party why, we ask why Black Lives Matter is not being labeled a hate group or domestic terrorist group,” he said into the bullhorn, according to Chronicle footage.

Reed said he thought whites were receiving unequal treatment and had been drowned out by Black Lives Matter.

“We’re out here just to show White Lives Matter has the right to support our rights and our heritage and culture, just as they do,” he told the Chronicle. “But they do not have the right to kill, they do not have the right to assault, they do not have the right to threat[en] and they do not have the right to damage personal property.”

Other protesters were even more blunt.

“We came here because the NAACP headquarters is here and that’s one of the most racist — supposedly ‘civil rights’ — groups in America,” said Scott Lacy, who could be seen waving a Confederate flag.

“It seems like in the country today that it’s wrong to be white,” fellow protester Billy Gaston told KPRC2.

One sign simply read “14 words,” a reference to the white supremacist motto: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

The protest struck many in the neighborhood as nonsensical and offensive.

Quintana Richardson, who is black, said Reed’s demand for equal rights for whites didn’t fit with historical fact.

“When he says ‘equal rights,’ that’s what we are trying to say. Let’s have equal rights. We’ve been saying that for years as black people,” she told the Chronicle.

And whatever message White Lives Matter might have had, it was obscured by the symbols on display, Richardson said.

“The Confederate flag throws me off,” she said. “You’re saying Black Lives Matter is a racist organization but when you’re throwing the Confederate flag up and you’re saying White Lives Matter, are you saying you’re racist as well?”

Adding to the tension were the assault-style rifles, which could be seen slung over the shoulders of at least two women and one man during the protest. Several protesters also wore body armor.

Some locals said they felt like the White Lives Matter crowd had descended on Houston with no intention of holding a dialogue.

“They didn’t even want to talk,” Trevor Clark, who is black, told KPRC2. “Things like this are going to continue to happen, tragedies are going to continue to happen if we don’t have an open dialogue.”

Brandon Walker, a reporter for the TV station, also said that there was little communication between groups literally on either side of the street.

“Organizers of the White Lives Matter movement say they held this protest and were here to spark dialogue on both sides of the street,” he said. “Also, people who were here in response to the rally said they hoped to have some dialogue too. Neither side, though, said they were able to accomplish that. The rally ended before any conversation on either end of the street was slated to take place.”

It was much the same online, where there was lots of heated comments but little exchange of ideas.

By Sunday night, “White Lives Matter” was trending nationwide on Twitter.

Many poked fun at the protest.

Jerry Ford Jr., a Black Lives Matter activist who appeared alongside Reed on TV the day before, linked the protest to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Some White Lives Matter supporters, however, suggested the movement was a tit-for-tat response.

“Very few blacks were on board with All Lives Matter, so we are doing our own thing now,” wrote one on Twitter. “White Lives Matter.”

“We expect every race to be proud of who they are,” Reed said on Fox26. “We’re out there fighting for our rights just like everyone should.”

Many portrayed White Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter as equivalents.

“Black Lives Matter is allowed. Why not White Lives Matter?” wrote one. “It’s either both of them or none of them. Pick one.”

“I don’t want to hear ‘White lives matter.’ I don’t want to hear ‘Black lives matter,'” wrote former Republican congressman Joe Walsh, who has his own controversial history involving BLM. “Only ‘All lives matter.’ Got it? Good. Now grow up.”

Critics, however, said equating the two movements was absurd as it ignored centuries of slavery and institutionalized racism in America.

Perhaps the most powerful response came from Andre Smith, a young black man and the son of NAACP Houston’s executive director, Yolanda Smith.

“So this is what the Houston branch of the NAACP looked liked today,” he wrote under a photo of the protest posted on Instagram. “White supremacist protested with Confederate flags and banners that read ‘White lives matter.’

“Little did they know the executive director of this particular branch birthday was today, which so happens to be my mom. So we spent the day celebrating a black life that did matter and will continue to do great work at this place you protest! Thank you and try again! #blacklivesmatter #NAACP”
Two Body Cameras Caught Fatal Milwaukee Police Shooting of Sylville Smith, AG Says
MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin’s attorney general says a fatal police shooting in Milwaukee that sparked two nights of violence was recorded by not one but two body cameras.

The state is investigating the Aug. 13 shooting of 23-year-old Sylville Smith​. Authorities have said he was fleeing police and that footage from the officer’s body camera clearly shows Smith holding a handgun and turning toward an officer when he was shot.

Attorney General Brad Schimel says authorities are reviewing that as well as a second video recorded by another officer’s body camera. He says the vantage points are similar.

Schimel says the videos won’t be released until after the county prosecutor decides whether to charge the officer, whose name hasn’t been made public.

The police officer has however allegedly been outed by those in the community who knew him, and has been targeted by online threats​. Widely shared social media posts and at least one news report identified him as a 24-year-old patrolman - matching the age and departmental experience that police released. Many posts contained threats against him and a photo.

The department said in a statement Tuesday it has noticed a “disturbing national trend” in which social media users have identified officers involved in fatal shootings and threatened them and their families. A spokesman declined to confirm the identity being circulated online.

The department said it is aware of some local threats against its officers and is investigating.

Smith was shot and killed Saturday after a brief foot chase that followed a traffic stop. Police say Smith had a gun in his hand when he turned toward the officer, who opened fire. Both the suspect and the officer are black.

A few hours after the shooting, violence erupted on the city’s largely black north side, with protesters hurling rocks at police and burning six businesses. Later protests were much calmer.
Milwaukee Mayor Lifts Emergency Curfew Rules
By Associated Press
August 22 at 9:13 PM

MILWAUKEE — The Latest on the aftermath of the shooting of a black man by police in Milwaukee (all times local):

7:45 p.m.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is easing curfew restrictions for teenagers that were put in place after a police shooting earlier this month sparked violence.

Barrett issued a proclamation Monday saying the restrictions were no longer needed.

On Aug. 15, the mayor expanded the city’s existing curfew to apply to anyone under 18 instead of those under 17. It also took effect an hour earlier, at 10 p.m.

The change was made after 23-year-old Sylville Smith was killed Aug. 13. A few hours after Smith’s death, a protest on Milwaukee’s largely black north side erupted into violence that reignited the following night in the Sherman Park neighborhood.

Smith’s funeral will be held Friday at Christian Faith Fellowship Church in Milwaukee.

9 a.m.

Wisconsin’s attorney general says a fatal police shooting in Milwaukee that sparked two nights of violence was recorded by not one but two body cameras.

The state is investigating the Aug. 13 shooting of 23-year-old Sylville Smith. Authorities have said he was fleeing police and that footage from the officer’s body camera clearly shows Smith holding a handgun and turning toward an officer when he was shot.

Attorney General Brad Schimel says authorities are reviewing that as well as a second video recorded by another officer’s body camera. He says the vantage points are similar.

Schimel says the videos won’t be released until after the county prosecutor decides whether to charge the officer.
FBI Uncovers 14,900 More Documents in Clinton Email Probe
By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post
August 22 at 4:50 PM

The FBI’s year-long investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server uncovered 14,900 emails and documents from her time as secretary of state that had not been disclosed by her attorneys, and a federal judge on Monday pressed the State Department to begin releasing emails sooner than mid-October as it planned.

Justice Department lawyers said last week that the State Department would review and turn over Clinton’s work-related emails to a conservative legal group. The records are among “tens of thousands” of documents found by the FBI in its probe and turned over to the State Department, Justice Department attorney Lisa Ann Olson said Monday in court.

The 14,900 Clinton documents are nearly 50 percent more than the roughly 30,000 emails that Clinton’s lawyers deemed work-related and returned to the department in December 2014.

Lawyers for the State Department and Judicial Watch, the legal group, are negotiating a plan for the release of the emails in a civil public records lawsuit before U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg of Washington.

In a statement after a hearing at the U.S. district courthouse in Washington, Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said the group was pleased that Boasberg rejected the department’s proposal to begin releasing documents weekly on Oct. 14, ordering it instead to prioritize Clinton’s emails and to return to court Sept. 22 with a new plan.

“We’re pleased the court accelerated the State Department’s timing,” Fitton said. “We’re trying to work with the State Department here, but let’s be clear: They have slow-walked and stonewalled the release of these records. They’ve had many of them since July 25 ... and not one record has yet been released, and we don’t understand why that’s the case.”

In a statement, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the agency previously agreed voluntarily to hand over emails sent or received by Clinton in her official capacity as secretary from 2009 to 2013 but that tens of thousands of documents would have to be “carefully appraised at State” to separate official records from personal ones.

“State has not yet had the opportunity to complete a review of the documents to determine whether they are agency records or if they are duplicative of documents State has already produced through the Freedom of Information Act,” Toner said. “We cannot comment further as this matter is in ongoing litigation.”

Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said, “As we have always said, Hillary Clinton provided the State Department with all the work-related emails she had in her possession in 2014. We are not sure what additional materials the Justice Department may have located, but if the State Department determines any of them to be work-related, then obviously we support those documents being released publicly as well.”

Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit in May 2015 after disclosures that Clinton had exclusively used a personal email server while secretary of state. Judicial Watch had sought all emails sent or received by Clinton at the State Department in a request made under the federal Freedom of Information Act, which covers the release of public records.

Monday’s hearing comes seven weeks after the Justice Department closed a criminal investigation without charges into the handling of classified material in Clinton’s email setup, which FBI Director James B. Comey called “extremely careless.”

On Aug. 5, the FBI completed transferring what Comey said were several thousand previously undisclosed work-related Clinton emails that the FBI found in its investigation for the State Department to review and make public. Government lawyers until now had given no details about how many emails the FBI found or when the full set would be released. It is unclear how many documents might be attachments, duplicates or exempt from release for privacy or legal reasons.

Government lawyers disclosed last week that the FBI has turned over eight computer discs of information: one including emails and attachments that were sent directly to or from Clinton, or to or from her at some point in an email chain, and were not previously turned over by her lawyers; a second with classified documents; another with emails returned by Clinton; and five containing materials from other people retrieved by the FBI.

The 14,900 documents at issue now come from the first disc, Fitton said.

In announcing the FBI’s findings in July, Comey said investigators found no evidence that the emails it found “were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them.” Like many users, Clinton periodically deleted emails, or they were purged when devices were changed.

Clinton’s lawyers also may have deleted some of the emails as “personal,” Comey said, noting their review relied on header information and search terms, not a line-by-line reading as the FBI conducted.

Also on Monday, a GOP lawmaker issued subpoenas to three private companies that helped run or protect Clinton’s email server. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who chairs the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, is demanding documents by Sept. 9 after the firms declined earlier this year to produce them voluntarily.

The demands are part of a joint probe by Smith and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), who heads the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs panel. The lawmakers say that while the criminal investigation has ended, they have questions about the structure and security of Clinton’s email system and whether it met federally-recommended standards for cybersecurity and record preservation.

The subpoenas target Platte River Networks, which provided information technology services for Clinton’s server; Datto, Inc., which furnished immediate recovery of back-up data in the event the primary server failed; and SECNAP Network Security Corp., which carried out threat monitoring of the network connected to Clinton’s server. The firms’ services were retained in 2013.

A science committee aide said they are looking for information about breaches or potential breaches, and documents that detail the firms’ scope of work, for example.

“Companies providing services to Secretary Hillary Clinton’s private email account and server are not above the law,” said Smith. The data sought, he said, is “critical to…informing policy changes in how to prevent similar email arrangements in the future.”

Ellen Nakashima contributed to this report.
Asia Stocks Edge Up, Dollar Dips as Markets Await Fed Clues
An investor walks past a board displaying stock prices at the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in Sydney, Australia, June 27, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray

By Wayne Cole | SYDNEY

Asia shares inched ahead while the dollar slipped on Tuesday as a dearth of major data left markets with little to do but second guess whether the Federal Reserve will raise U.S. interest rates this year.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.2 percent, with South Korea .KS11 and Australia adding similar amounts.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 went the other way and eased 0.4 percent as the yen gained on the dollar.

The whole world seems to have hushed ahead of comments from Fed Chair Janet Yellen at the central bank's annual meeting in Jackson Hole on Friday. Investors still doubt the stars will align for a hike anytime soon, so a hawkish tone from Yellen would challenge that equanimity.

"Ever so slowly, the market does seem to be reluctantly acknowledging the chorus of senior Fed speakers who have suggested recently that a 2016 rate hike is still quite probable and September is 'live'," wrote analysts at ANZ in a note.

"But in reality, the response has been very muted."

Indeed, U.S. Treasuries actually rallied on Monday, with 10-year yields at 1.55 percent after falling 4 basis points overnight.

Fed fund futures imply around a 24 percent chance of an easing in September, rising to around 50 percent by December.

A quarter-point hike is not fully priced in until September next year.

On Wall Street, the Dow .DJI ended Monday down 0.12 percent, while the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.06 percent and the Nasdaq .IXIC added 0.12 percent.

Biotech stocks received a boost from Pfizer's (PFE.N) $14 billion acquisition of cancer drug maker Medivation (MDVN.O), which jumped nearly 20 percent.

Of the 479 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings, 71 percent have topped expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data. Earnings are currently showing a decline of 2.3 percent for the quarter.

In forex markets, the dollar slipped a touch to 94.442 against a basket of currencies .DXY. The index fell about 1.3 percent last week on what traders perceived as mixed signals from Fed officials.

The dollar drifted down to 100.11 yen JPY= from 100.30 late in New York, while the euro nudged up to $1.1331 EUR=.

The New Zealand dollar blipped higher after the country's central bank forecast another 35 basis points in possible rate cuts, less than many investors had wagered on.

The kiwi dollar NZD=D4 rose around a third of a cent to $0.7310 in reaction.

Oil remained under pressure after shedding 3 percent on Monday. Prices retreated from two-month highs on worries about burgeoning Chinese fuel exports, more Iraqi and Nigerian crude shipments and a rising U.S. oil rig count.

Brent crude was off 12 cents at $49.04 a barrel. It hit a two-month high of $51.22 on Friday. U.S. crude futures lost 18 cents to $47.23, after the September contract expired on Monday at $47.05.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

15 Killed in Suicide Bombings in Somalia
Most fatalities are students, local traders

8:09 AM CDT Aug 21, 2016

MOGADISHU, Somalia (CNN) —At least 15 people died when two suicide car bombs struck a government building in Somalia on Sunday, authorities said.

Most of the fatalities are students and local traders who were at a nearby school and market, police said.

After the explosions in the town of Galkayo, attackers stormed the building and exchanged gunfire with security forces, local police Capt. Abdi Hassan said.

The terror group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, which targeted a government compound housing administrative offices, police said.

Northern Galkayo is under the control of Puntland, a semi-autonomous state in northeast Somalia.

Troubling trend

The attack follows a similar pattern of bombings in the country also claimed by Al-Shabaab.

In late July, six people died after double suicide car bombs exploded in Mogadishu.

Just days prior, suicide bombers detonated two vehicles laden with explosives near the capital's Aden Adde International Airport, killing at least 12.

In June, the group also claimed separate attacks on two hotels popular with Somali politicians, which left more than two dozen people dead.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

We Are on the Right Track: Chiwenga

This week we publish the final installment of Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, General Constantino Guveya Dominic Nyikadzino Chiwenga’s, interview with The Sunday Mail Editor Mabasa Sasa and Reporter Tinashe Farawo. Last week’s installment signed off with Gen Chiwenga urging politicians to go about their activities without violating the Constitution, a document that the ZDF is bound to protect and uphold. He continues…


Gen C. Chiwenga

If you recall, in January 2002 General Zvinavashe (Gen Chiwenga’s predecessor as ZDF Commander) spoke about the Presidency being a straitjacket.

Right back to the time of George Washington, long back when the Americans established their government, the presidency was a straitjacket. That is where it has been taken from.

Now, the military all over the world are involved in the running of their countries.

What we cannot do is to address political rallies or publicly chant political slogans; but in other countries like Uganda for example, they actually have about 10 members of their defence forces who sit in parliament and also in cabinet.

With the Israeli’s you have also seen this, and with the Russians it’s the same.

You go to the British and the Americans, the military advises cabinet and that advice is not for public consumption.

Coming to the Constitution of Zimbabwe, we have the National Security Council.

What is the National Security Council, which is chaired by the President?

It discusses everything from military, economy, and politics. So there is nothing which is amiss about the military being involved in the running of the country.

Our Constitution is very clear and straight forward.

You can look at it Section 212, it has got no sub-sections. It is a clean statement and you can read it. It’s very clear and this Constitution has not been written by the ruling party, it is something which was done by all political parties in the country, all civic organisations and stakeholders in the country, including churches.

Everybody contributed and not only that; it went to a referendum and people said this is what they wanted.

When we look at the functions of the Police which is, Section 219 of the Constitution, you can see how long it is. When it comes to prisons it’s so clear and specific on what they are supposed to do.

So sometimes people need to read and understand the supreme law of the land.

We’ve got the roles as outlined in the Constitution and buttressed by the Defence Act: that’s exactly what we do.

Noms de guerre

The top leaders were elected by the people to lead the struggle and they made a supreme sacrifice to go out there to lead the combatants. There was no need for them to change their names because they were already known.

It would be na├»ve for President Mugabe, for example, to change his name. Who didn’t know that this is President Mugabe or Vice-President Joshua Nkomo or Vice-President Simon Muzenda or Ziyapapa Moyo, or even our commanders Josiah Magama Tongogara? They were known.

Why fighters had to be given noms de guerre or to change their names was for two specific reasons: for the individual’s personal protection and for the protection of their families.

They had to be protected. Can you imagine if I had used my real name, Costantino, and then I get captured and killed, then they would take me to the village, my home, and make a lot of propaganda? That would derail the struggle.

Who would then want their sons and daughters to go to war when they see bodies being paraded in their villages?

So it was protection of the family and the individual. When an individual was captured or killed, he was only known by his nom de guerre. Very few would be known.

But leaders never used noms de guerre. Did Lenin have a nom de guerre? Did Fidel Castro have a nom de guerre? Did Chairman Mao have nom de guerre? Did Samora Machel have a nom de guerre? Did Sam Nujoma have a nom de guerre? Did Nelson Mandela have a nom de guerre?

I don’t know why people become so myopic.

These leaders interacted with those people who were giving us aid, be it political, military or material.

We had for instance Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, Hebert Hushehwekunze — they never changed their names.

Others wanted to use their own names but we said that was dangerous in a scenario that they are captured or killed.

For instance, I changed names twice officially but during the war I had so many names.

When I changed sectors or provinces I would use another name so that the enemy could not follow up on where I was operating.

When I joined the struggle I was Samuel Munyoro; that was my first name. Second, I was given Dominic Chinenge. What they (his superiors at the time) did not know was that Dominic was my real name and I did not tell them that.

So all those who talk about noms de guerre have no idea of how a guerrilla war is waged. They have no idea on how an armed struggle is waged.

I was given the name Samuel Munyoro by our chief representative in Botswana, the late Cde Dick Chikara Musoko.

We were just given the names. We didn’t choose.

I remember that one in Mgagao was called Vhutumurambwa. I used to ask him, “What is Vhutumurambwa? (laughing).”

When we got to Mgagao I was now Dominic Chinenge. The names came from the commissariat, under the chief instructor. The chief instructor was Gordon Murambwa, the commissar was Dzinashe Machingura and the head of security was Abel Sibanda.

They would have a list of names and you would stand in line and be given a name. I was lucky that I was given Dominic Chinenge; my great grandfather in was called Chinengebere.

I almost said Dominic was my real name. But you couldn’t say that.

When I was in the front, I used names like Mheremhere.

When the people were tortured by the Rhodesians they would spill the beans. When you ask them after they were released, they would say, “Ahhh, mukoma, I never said anything.”

But after independence when looked at the records left by the Rhodesians, we said: “These people were telling lies.”

But of course it was understandable. The torture was just too much. We knew that and that is why we used other names.

If for, instance, I was using my real name and I was ambushed, like when we had a 3km ambush and closed the Mutare-Birchenough Bridge Road for almost a month, it would have been a disaster.

When we had that ambush near Hot Springs and they knew it was done by Constatino Chiwenga, my family would have been in trouble.

It was a 3km ambush and that was the first time we used anti-paratroopers so they thought we had missiles. It was 1978.

Battle of Mapai

It was after that, that we caused havoc at the Battle of Mapai (September 1979). The Rhodesians called it Operation Uric.

Cde Tongo had written that I must get to Mozambique before the President and team went to Lancaster, but the letter got to me late. I was in Gutu and I got it in Shurugwi.

As we were going, the South African National Defence Forces had deployed in the Gezani area right up to the Mberengwa area.

So it took us time to break that and then there were three minefields.

By the time we got to Mapai, people had already left for Lancaster.

I was with Colonel Ishewepasi Matemachani, the one running Zimoco. One morning I was jogging with Matemachani, I think it was the third day after I had come from the front, when we saw about half a squadron; they should have been six Hawker Hunters quite high following the railway line.

Frelimo and the Russians were there, and the jets targeted the radar system, logistics, the command, the hospital: they were all taken out one time. They were quite accurate.

While we were still asking ourselves what the next target was, the first wave came to bomb us on the 5th of September 1979.

They bombed Mapai and up to Chokwe. Actually they got to a point where they overran Chokwe and were even selling bread there.

The first Rhodesian aircraft shot down in that battle was hit at the bridge on Limpopo after Mabharani. With Frelimo we put up a good fight. I can say that was the biggest fight I had ever seen.

People fought to the point that those who were on the anti-aircraft guns had blood oozing from their ears because of the pressure.

The logistics centre had been destroyed but we had underground food stores.

For five days, from fifth to the tenth of September, the Rhodesians kept coming. It was at that battle that for the first time we saw the Russian BM-21, the multiple rocket launcher, being fired. We had never seen that weapon firing and it was quite devastating.

They deployed a helicopter which was taken down by a rocket launcher. It was a changeover for pilots and that plane was full of pilots.

That is the battle that took Peter Walls to Lancaster House because he lost his best pilots there. After the helicopter was dropped, I was pictured there stepping on the private parts of a white man. (Laughing)

Which reminds me of Marange.

Marange is quite interesting because Smith had gone to visit Mutsago camp, escorted by helicopters and armoured cars.

We only knew Smith had gone to Mutsago the following day when they were doing their propaganda. They were saying “you said Marange is a no-go area but Smith was there”.

We said never again would this happen. So there was that battle.

First came introduction of the Puma vehicle and we didn’t know it. We were used to the Bedfords.

We went after a Puma and the vehicle stopped. The only thing we did was puncture the tyres but we thought we had massacred these people with the shots we had fired and we started shouting.

They were waiting for the helicopters to get near and then they opened fire. The hell-fire which came out of there was unbelievable and this where I lost my cap, which got hooked by thorns.

My hat is the only thing I lost during the war. I never lost my riffle or magazine.

Anyway, everyone had gone and they said Cde Dominic is no more; he has been killed in action. They crossed the Odzi River and the message was sent to Mozambique that I had been killed.

In fact, had moved some distance and I saw a man ploughing his fields. I asked him to pretend to be planting seeds while I ploughed with his cattle. I hid my rifle in a drainage ditch.

The white men came looking for me but all they saw was one man ploughing with cattle and another one dropping seeds.

Their helicopter hovered for a while and then flew on. When the helicopter had gone far I took my rifle, and thanked the old man.

They found my cap, and a white man called Bvudzijena would wear it and say: “This is Dominic’s cap. We will find him and kill him since he disappeared mysteriously.”

We killed Bvudzijena at the 18-mile peg in Gandayi.

Around 1am, we were moving towards the base there and we decided to wait outside because we didn’t know who was occupying it. We went into the base around six in the morning and we were very tired.

We didn’t know who was first to come in. But we heard a white man pleading with our Mbuya Nehanda, saying: “Mbuya Nehanda, tinoziva chose kuti takapamba nyika yenyu. Kana riridoro ramunoda tinokupai, kana iri mari tinokupai.”

He was taking snuff.

We were not very far away so I took an aim at him and shot him. That whole section, we wiped it out, and we took the uniforms and radio and sent them to Maputo.

It was quite interesting that the whites even tried to follow our traditional rituals.

That is when we saw that our people are sometimes not very honest (because it means Zimbabweans were teaching them our ways so that they defeat us).

It is like what is happening with these social media guys and Tajamuka.

That’s exactly what some of these so-called masvikiro were doing, working with the Rhodesians. They were telling them what to do and how to counter our activities.

Take a Rhodesian map of any operational zone and you will see they are marked “sabhuku”, “chief”, “n’ganga”, “mhondoro” and “svikiro”.

They wanted to know every n’anga and svikiro in the villages. The maps were called the RIC meaning Rhodesian Intelligence Call.

Empty vessels

People who fought in the front are well-known and they never talk about it.

We have so many great fighters, living and dead, and the majority of those are no longer with us. Those who are alive never move around claiming “I did this” and “I did that”.

Empty vessels make the most noise. If you were a great fighter let other people talk about you. That’s the way of all good fighters and leaders.

There are so many fighters who did a lot.

Equally, as I said earlier, there are people who saw the borders as they crossed into Zambia or Mozambique to the camps, and only saw the border again on the way back at Independence.


They either did not get the chance to go to training, because the training was also by how many numbers we could take into the training camps, or after training, how many we could arm.

That is why we had refugee camps.

There were also tasks that had to be done by those at the rear. Some worked as logisticians, others were more important as instructors to train the fighters who were going to the front, others were educators like in the commissariat department because our policy was you would not hold a rifle until you understood why we were fighting.

There were some people who could not be trained because they did not understand why we were fighting.

I will give you a good example: one old man, he is late, I think his name was Rogers.

He worked for quite some time and saved enough money to buy a scotch cart. Chikochikari ichi chatengwa, it was the time Centenary was opened as a farming area, and he passed through a farm that had a clear sign saying “hapana nzira, hapabvuminzwe kupfura”.

So the white farmer ceased the cart. Rogers came to the struggle.

Even before I was a commissar, the people who came before me like Dzinashe Machingura, tried to make him aware of the reason for fighting but they failed.

Well, I also tried. I failed. I would say “we are going to liberate the country”, and he would say: “Iyo nyika yacho yakasungirirwa papi? Ndakauya kuno kuzotora pfuti kunotora chikochikari changu. Izvo zvenyu zvekuti murikuda kunosunungura nyika ndezvenyu izvo.”

We could not give a weapon to that kind of a person. After Independence, he was working at State House and he passed on some few years back.

The only time I thought he understood was during the Geneva Conference. He raised a hand when we briefed the people on what the politicians were doing, and I said: “Yes Cde Rogers?”

And he said: “Ok, mati Smiff arikuda sixfire, ko majoriti ju akati chi nayo?” (Laughing). Rogers’ pronunciation wasn’t so good. But he was saying, “Smith arikuda ceasefire but what is he saying about our majority rule?”

Anyway, there were many roles to play during the war.

There were people who would do the minor works of cleaning in the camps and a lot of things were going on. So not everyone who crossed the border was a fighter, but they did something to liberate the country.


Currently — whether economically or politically — we are in the phase of building from the severe difficulties we have gone through over the years due to the illegal economic sanctions.

Yes, politically there were difficulties. This is why the country for the first time had to go into an inclusive Government with the opposition, and I don’t think I have to go into details on that one.

We also had hyperinflation, and no country can parallel Zimbabwe, except Germany during the Weimar Republic and they did not get to where Zimbabwe was in 2008.

We started, as you are aware, with thousands, into millions, billions, trillions, quintillions and into sextillions. And we had an inflation rate that was around 500 billion percent. But now we are now hovering around three percent inflation.

There is light at the end of the tunnel in terms of our economy. We are now striving to make sure that our infrastructure is built up, our industry and our manufacturing sector are fully operational.

We are now on track when it comes to mining and the only problem we are facing currently is the depressed prices of metal prices; but the price gold is coming up and we are quite happy with that.

This is not going to be for long, it is just a passing phase.

Agriculture, if it was not for the El-Nino induced drought, we could have been somewhere by now.

Agriculture had been destroyed after the Land Reform Programme as a lot of machinery got destroyed, some was broken down and some exported to neighbouring countries.

There was no maintenance of the existing equipment, and consequently the infrastructure got destroyed and this is what the responsible ministry is trying to answer.

Command agriculture is for everyone; every able-bodied person in Zimbabwe is going to be involved in the command agriculture.

What we mean by command agriculture is that Government will determine which crops to farm — within the context of food and cash crops — and those who have land will be told what to do with it for the good of the country.

For example, if one has 100 hectares Government determines hectares to be grown under contract, and the rest the farmer will choose what to farm.

We want to see land being fully utilised and where possible, Government will assist in making sure that seed, all the inputs, the tillage will be available. It is not for free — it will be done on a cost-recovery basis.

If one has to borrow, facilities will be opened to borrow, and the marketing of the produce will have to be arranged and this is what Government is doing.

We are saying never again will we go to buy food outside the country. Never again will our country go hungry.

We have the capability to produce enough for our people and to have reserves, and also have extra to sell to other countries and return our bread basket status.

The tourism industry is also starting to build up.

So in terms of the economy we can see light. Zim-Asset was distilled into just one page, which is the 10-Point Plan which Government is now following.

Politically, we are now out of the inclusive Government.

Some people don’t realise that what the country went through takes time to recover from but we are lucky that we have managed to bounce back within a very short time.

We are on the right track and we are moving forward as we would expect, despite a few teething problems which are a passing phase.
Libya Begins Air Operation to Cut Off Fleeing Islamic State Militants
Government of National Accord said surveillance operation covers central Libya as well as western region up to border with Tunisia

Fighter from forces loyal to Libya's Government of National Unity skirts around burning vehicles after suicide bomber of Islamic State group detonated his explosives in Sirte earlier this week (AFP)
MEE and agencies's picture

Saturday 20 August 2016 21:14 UTC

Air force units of Libya's unity government launched an operation on Saturday to cut off potential escape routes for militants holed up in the coastal city of Sirte, loyalist forces said.

The forces of the Government of National Accord (GNA), on their Facebook page, said the surveillance operation covered central Libya as well as the western region up to the border with Tunisia.

Pro-GNA forces, backed since early August by US air strikes, began an assault in mid-May to expel the Islamic State (IS) group from its Sirte stronghold.

They fought their way into Sirte on June 9 and have since faced a barrage of sniper fire, suicide bombings and booby traps, but have pinned down the militants in a downtown area near the sea.

More than 350 pro-GNA fighters have been killed and nearly 2,000 wounded in the battle, according to medical sources. IS casualties figures are unavailable.

Sirte itself has been emptied of its residents, apart from families of IS militants, according to the pro-GNA forces.

Pentagon spokesman Gordon Trowbridge in mid-August estimated that IS militants in Sirte numbered fewer than 1,000.

While defeat in Sirte will be a critical blow, it will not be the end of Libya’s militant threat. Some were able to flee Sirte before it was encircled and are likely to try to reactivate elsewhere in Libya, officials and fighters say.

Militants may link up with existing cells and armed factions already operating in other regions, as the divisions that fueled militancy in Libya persist and even risk worsening as a result of the Sirte campaign.

Officials have given few details on militants detained or killed in the battle for Sirte, saying they find it hard to trace those who use different identities and that resources to track and intercept fugitives are scarce.

But according to Mohamed Gnaidy, a military intelligence official in Misrata, a western Libyan city, about a dozen militant commanders and hundreds of more junior fighters may have slipped away.

That does not mean IS will resurface openly in another Libyan town, Gnaidy and other officials said. But the group could stage revenge attacks or wage an insurgency, operating sleeper cells in urban areas and forging new alliances in the vast open spaces of the south.
Army General Command: Provocations by Asayish Took More Dangerous Turn, Which Required Suitable Response From Syrian Army
19 August، 2016

Damascus, SANA – The General Command of the Army and Armed Forces said that the Asayish, the military wing of the Kurdistan Workers Party, has recently escalated its provocative actions in Hasaka city, attacking state establishments, stealing oil and cotton, disrupting examinations, carrying out abductions, and causing a state of chaos and instability.

In a statement on Friday, the General Command said that these actions took a more dangerous turn as the Asayish encircled Hasaka city, shelled it with artillery and tanks, and targeted Syrian Arab Army positions in it, claiming the lives of a number of military personnel and civilians.

The General Command said that the Asayish did not respond to all the attempts that were made to contain the situation and restore security and stability to the city; instead they persisted in carrying out their crimes in a bid to seize control of the city, which required the a suitable response by Syrian Arab Army as it targeted the sources of artillery fire and the gatherings of armed elements responsible for these criminal actions.

The statement clarified that the recurring attacks on citizens and the Syrian Arab Army are carried out exclusively by the Asayish and are not related to any specific Syrian component, affirming at the same time that it will respond to any such attack by any side and exert efforts to prevent the situation from escalating in order to preserve Syria’s territorial integrity and the safety of Syrian citizens.
Hasaka Governor: No One Can Protect Hasaka Except the Syrian State
20 August، 2016

Hasaka, SANA- Hasaka Governor Mohammad Za’al al-Ali said that Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has cut Hasaka-Qamishli road in front of the Syrian Arab Army, adding that efforts were exerted to prevent the situation from escalation, but the situation developed further as confrontation happened, claiming the lives of a number of military personnel and civilians.

Al-Ali, in an interview with the Syrian TV through telephone on Friday, added that what is happening in Hasaka is a very dangerous development as there are large numbers of forces which enter the outskirts of the city.

He affirmed that the Kurds are part of the Syrian social spectrum as they participated in the previous battles alongside the Syrian Arab Army.

The Governor wondered that the PKK turned its weapons against the State institutions and the Syrian Arab Army which supported and backed it in its fight against the armed terrorist groups in the province.

Al-Ali pointed out that nobody can protect Hasaka except the Syrian State and its army, calling on all the military and political leaders of the PKK to adhere to their loyalty and belonging to their homeland.

Earlier, the General Command of the Army and Armed Forces said that the Asayish, the military wing of the Kurdistan Workers Party, has recently escalated its provocative actions in Hasaka city, attacking state establishments, stealing oil and cotton, disrupting examinations, carrying out abductions, and causing a state of chaos and instability.

Zain/ Mazen
Two Civilians Killed, Seven Injured in Terrorist Mortar Attack on Daraa City
20 August، 2016

Daraa/Hama, SANA- Two civilians were killed and seven others were injured due to mortar rounds fired by terrorists on al-Sahari neighborhood in Daraa city on Saturday evening.

A source at Daraa Police Command told SANA reporter that terrorists fired two mortar shells on al-Sahari neighborhood, killing two people and injuring seven others including a woman, adding that one of the injured is in a critical condition and that the attacked caused material damage to locals’ homes and properties.

Earlier in the day, a source at Hama police command said that terrorists affiliated to the so-called al-Izza brigade who are active in al-Arbaeen and Hasraiya villages fired two rocket shells which fell on Salhab city to the south of al-Ghab Plain in Hama countryside.

The source added in a statement to SANA reporter that the terrorist attack caused material damage to public and private properties without any casualties.

Terrorists affiliated to many terrorist organizations are active in the countryside extending between Hama and Idleb provinces such as al-Izza brigade, Ahrar al-Sham movement, Jund al-Aqsa, Failaq al-Sham, al-Haq brigade, Jaish al-Sunnah, Ajnad al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra that are affiliated to the so-called Jaish al-Fateh and they target safe residential areas in Hama with rocket and mortar shells.

Qabas/ Manal / Hazem Sabbagh
Syrian Air Force Destroys Gatherings and Vehicles of Terrorist Organizations in Aleppo, Idleb, Hama, Homs and Deir Ezzor
20 August، 2016

The Army destroys vehicles for terrorists and kills many of them in several provinces
17 August، 2016

Provinces, SANA- A military source confirmed that scores of terrorists were killed during intensive air strikes carried out by the Syrian Air Force against gatherings and dens of the so-called Jaish al-Fateh, Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS terrorist organizations in Aleppo, Idleb, Hama, Homs and Deir Ezzor.

The source said in a statement to SANA that during the past 24 hours, Syria’s Air Force launched 46 sorties and 26 helicopter sorties which targeted many gatherings for terrorists which supported the activities of the land forces.

The air strikes destroyed four vehicles for Jaish al-Fateh equipped with machine guns in the area surrounding the Military Academies south west of Aleppo in addition to two positions for Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in al-Sheikh Said in Aleppo.

The strikes targeted a gathering for terrorists on Saraqeb- Aleppo axis which resulted in destroying a convoy of vehicles and armored vehicles in addition to killing scores of terrorists in Deir Hafer, Hmeimeh, Rasm al-Kama, Rasm Harmel and Beijan Hill in Aleppo and its countryside.

The Air Force inflicted heavy losses in personnel and vehicles upon Jaish al-Fateh terrorists in Idleb countryside as it destroyed a convoy of vehicles in the southern entrance of Armanaz city.

The air strikes against Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in Homs countryside resulted in killing a large number of terrorists and destroying a depot in al-Ghantu village, two vehicles and a fuel depot in al-Zaafaraneh village.

The air strikes against a gathering for ISIS terrorists destroyed five vehicles and fortified positions in al-Jbeiliyeh in Deir Ezzor.

In the northern countryside of Hama, according to the source, air strikes targeted Jaish al-Fateh terrorists and destroyed two vehicles for them to the south of al-Lattamneh in addition to four vehicles equipped with machine guns in Kafar Zeta and al-Lahhaiya.

On Friday, the Air Force carried out 46 sorties and 13 helicopter sorties against gatherings of terrorist organizations in Idleb, Aleppo, Homs and Hama countryside.

A unit of the army and the armed forces on Saturday foiled an attack by Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists on military posts in the northern countryside of Hama central province.

A military source told SANA that a unit of the army in cooperation with the popular defense groups carried out intensive strikes against a group of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists after they infiltrated towards military posts on the axis of Ma’an/al-Zalaqiyat, 40 km to the north of Hama City.

The source added that 3 BMB vehicles, 3 machinegun-equipped vehicles, a vehicle loaded with ammunition and a bulldozer were destroyed in the strikes.

A number of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists were also killed and others were injured.

An army unit destroysed a depot for Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists with all terrorists inside in Housh al-Zawahra in the northern countryside of Homs.

Later, an Army and Armed Forces unit, in cooperation with popular defense groups, targeted terrorists’ gatherings, bases, and movements in the northern countryside of Quneitra province.

SANA reporter said that the army and popular defense groups used a guided rocket to destroy a car transporting members of Jabhat al-Nusra terror organization on the road between al-Hamidiye and Rasm al-Rawadi, killing all the terrorists inside it.

Another unit stationed in Khan Arnaba north of Quneitra city targeted several bases of al-Nusra terrorists in al-Hamidiye and Quenitra city, killing a number of them, injuring others, and destroying their weapons and munitions.
Kurds Versus Syrian Army Battle Intensifies, Complicating Multi-fronted War
File picture of Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters taking up positions inside a damaged building in al-Vilat al-Homor neighborhood in Hasaka city, Syria July 22, 2015.  REUTERS/Rodi Said

By Angus McDowall

Fighting between the Syrian army and Kurdish forces intensified late on Friday and into Saturday, creating the risk of yet another front opening in the multi-sided civil war.

The two sides have mostly avoided confrontation during the five-year conflict, with the government focusing its efforts against Sunni Arab rebels in the west, and the Kurds mainly fighting Islamic State in northern Syria.

In an indication of their reluctance to escalate further, pro-government media said on Saturday they had held preliminary peace talks.

After the fighting broke out this week, government warplanes bombed Kurdish-held areas of Hasaka, one of two cities in the largely Kurdish-held northeast where the government has maintained enclaves.

Fighting there could complicate the battle against Islamic State because of the Kurds' pivotal role in the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces' (SDF) fight against the group.

On Friday, warplanes from the U.S.-led coalition flew what the Pentagon called protective patrols around Hasaka to prevent Syrian jets from targeting U.S. special forces, who are operating on the ground with the SDF, the first sorties of their kind in the war.

Ground fighting intensified late on Friday when Kurdish YPG fighters battled Syrian forces, whose air force flew sorties over the city, Kurds and monitors said.

"The clashes continue in areas inside the city today. There were military operations," a Kurdish official said.

Many inhabitants of Kurdish areas fled on Friday and at least 41 people have been killed, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based war monitoring group, said.

"There are efforts to cool things between the army and the Asayish (YPG-affiliated forces), and a first meeting was held aimed at a ceasefire," Sham FM, a pro-government radio station, reported.


As well as complicating the war against Islamic State, fighting in Hasaka could create problems for the government's campaign in the city of Aleppo, where Kurdish forces have been accused of coordinating with the Syrian army against rebels backed by Turkey.

The YPG, or People's Protection Units, have close ties with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey, against which Ankara has waged a three-decade counter insurgency. Turkey fears the Kurds' drive against Islamic State is partly aimed at carving out a Kurdish region along its own southern border.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkey would take a more active role in Syria in coming months to stop it being torn along ethnic lines - an apparent reference to the YPG gains in northern areas.

Local fighters backed by the SDF, of which the YPG militia form an integral part, said on Saturday they would not advance further north - towards the Turkish border - having secured the city of Manbij, 250 km (155 miles) west of Hasaka, from Islamic State, an announcement that may have been aimed at assuaging Turkish fears.

Syria's army has blamed the YPG for the Hasaka fighting and described it as a branch of the PKK, a characterization the group rejected on Saturday.

In Aleppo, fighting continued near the mouth of a corridor that rebels opened this month into besieged areas they control.

Jakob Kern, the Syria director of the United Nations' World Food Programme, said opposition-held areas had been inaccessible for weeks and food was running perilously short.

"In the east of Aleppo, the food will last a maximum of two weeks, probably until the end of August," Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger quoted him as saying on Saturday.

Russia, the main military backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said on Thursday it was willing to support weekly 48-hour ceasefires to allow aid to reach besieged areas.

(Additional reporting by Michael Shields in Geneva; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
Semenya Laughs in the Face of Adversity and Runs All the Way Into the History Books
21 AUG 2016 02:23 (SOUTH AFRICA)

Caster Semenya of South Africa celebrates after winning the women's 800m final of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Athletics, Track and Field events at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 20 August 2016. EPA/ANTONIO LACERDA

Caster Semenya became South Africa’s first black, female Olympic champion on Saturday night, setting a new national record in the process. BY ANTOINETTE MULLER

“I haven’t had fun in a while.”

That’s how Mokgadi Caster Semenya described the day where she won the 400m, 800m and 1500m all in one day. If that was fun, claiming a historic gold medal, South Africa's tenth at the Rio Olympics, must have been extraordinary.

Semenya, running in lane three, made a strong start. Somewhat surprisingly, Semenya took the early lead and as the field began to spread out, Margaret Wambui and Francine Niyonsaba both pushed her hard. But in the final stretch, Semenya came from two meters behind to two meters ahead and set a new national record of 1.55.28, winning by a distance rarely seen in this event, and the fastest time in the world this year.

With her trademark shoulder dusting at the start of the race, Semenya looked as cool and composed as she had all season and everyone across South Africa who had set several alarms to watch their golden girl had fun with her.

Earlier this year, those words were a poignant statement from a young woman who has always loved to run. Like many athletes, she has described her chosen discipline as something that makes her feel free. But over the course of her career, there have been times where she must have despised it. Semenya’s story is well known and no longer warrants being regurgitated, not in a moment like this.

But Semenya has never liked being famous. In an interview with The Guardian in 2011, she admitted that people constantly stopping her for pictures and autographs “used to irritate her”. She doesn’t like famous people. She doesn’t like fame. She didn’t even have posters of her running heroes on her bedroom walls – despite dreaming of one day being just like them.

That steely determination and the ability to disconnect from fame as well as an incredible mental toughness, along with rare talent, has brought Semenya endless success and will ensure that she becomes one of the greatest 800m athletes of all time.

Through her career, there has always been an almost childlike innocence about her, even though she has been through the kind of stuff that would add on ten years to your life.  And while she now stands tall as a global icon for women, she is still just a kid who loves to run and a kid who wants to make her parents proud. Breaking records and winning titles is what she dreams of doing.

And that is exactly what Semenya has done for the past six years. And the world has loved watching her, even if there are people who have tried to make her stop.  In a rare interview with the BBC in 2015, she said: “I cannot stop running because of people.”

In the lead up to the Games, there have been countless opinions circulating over whether it is “right” or “fair” for her to run, but all that whining increasingly resembled empty vessels. The science, we can appreciate, is complicated.

But just for this win, we should shelve science, because them’s the rules and Semenya is competing fair and square. Her trials and triumphs have come to represent something much bigger than just sporting excellence. Sport mirrors society and Semenya’s journey should force us all to take a long, hard look at ourselves.

This victory is vindication and liberation from all the struggles and adversity she has had to endure. This is redefining ticking the neat little box of what it means to be a woman. And not just any woman: a successful black woman. This is flipping the script on the middle-class notion of what femininity is supposed to be.

This is justification for all the hours of sacrifice. The time on the track, when everyone was sleeping. This is reward for the time spent getting back on the track and back into shape despite injury biting at her heels just as she was reaching her best.

It’s two fingers up at the humiliation she had to endure as a teenager and a sideways, 'so what' shrug for those who made her the unwitting poster girl for a scientific debate that seems impossible to really settle, despite there being thousands of other athletes like her. They just aren’t as damn fast as her.

This win is for every woman who has been told she should act more ladylike. Any woman who has been told she talks too loud, doesn’t smile enough, she’s too butch, shouldn’t wear her hair short. It’s for any woman who has had somebody try to define what she can and can’t do and how she should or shouldn’t do it.

And this win is for every black woman who is strong in ways that most of us can only imagine. Who continue to challenge the status quo loudly, powerfully, disruptively. It’s a win for every woman who has to be strong every day in the face of adversity because of the colour of her skin. Those women who often keep on running, without the power of a nation behind them. And it’s a win for every South African who knows many of these challenges all too well.

More than anything else, this win is for that kid who lives to run and whose dreams have now come true. It’s a hat-tip to coach Jean Verster, who has sacrificed, believed and fought for his champion.

Semenya will be a reluctant hero. She is just a kid who likes to run and have fun. Luckily, that’s all that’s expected of her to carry the mantle for the millions she represents.  All we ask of you, Caster, is please, please keep on having fun. DM

Photo: Caster Semenya of South Africa celebrates after winning the women's 800m final of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Athletics, Track and Field events at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 20 August 2016. EPA/ANTONIO LACERDA