Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Rebel Libya Forces Hit Tripoli Airport, to Target Misrata
2:59pm EST

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Forces from Libya's internationally recognized government carried out air strikes on Maitiga airport in Tripoli on Tuesday and plan to hit an airport in Misrata to retaliate against rival forces controlling the capital, a security official said.

Saqir El-jaroshi, air force commander for the recognized government, said the strikes were in response to attacks on Zintan airport by forces allied to the Libya Dawn group, which took over Tripoli last year and set up its own government.

A source at Maitiga airport said the strikes had hit an area near the runway, but did not cause any major damage.

(Reporting by Ayman Al-Warfalli; writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
'Europe Will Face a 9/11 Within Two Years’ – Colonel Gaddafi’s Cousin
March 03, 2015 13:59

Colonel Gaddafi’s cousin predicts a “9/11 in Europe within two years,” as Islamic State militants join thousands of migrants beating a path to Europe. His warning comes as Home Secretary Theresa May says Britain’s terror threat is “grave and growing.”

Ahmed Gaddafi al-Dam, formerly one of Gadaffi’s most trusted security chiefs, estimates a minimum of 500,000 migrants will make their way from Libya to Europe in 2015, as the Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL] increases its foothold in the North African state.

“There are many terrorists among them, between 10 and 50 in every thousand,” he told the Mail Online.

“They are going all throughout Europe [sic]. Within one year, two years, you will have another September 11.”

The former security chief made the remarks in Cairo on Monday, during an interview with the newspaper. He has reportedly since fled.

Following his comments, Britain’s Home Secretary Theresa May said Britons continue to face the risk of a terror attack. She added everyone in the UK needs to play their part to help fight the spread of radicalization.

Considered alarmist by some, Gaddafi al-Dam’s warning will likely alarm Western governments.

Following the brutal massacre of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by IS militants in Sirte, northern Libya, concern is mounting that instability in the region poses a risk to the West.

Militants linked to IS have made gains in Libya in recent times, and are thought to have conquered three towns, including Sirte.

Gadaffi’s cousin says the Islamic State in Libya could be in possession of over 6,000 barrels of uranium, previously guarded by the state’s armed forces.

“They are not stupid anymore. They know how to make money. They will try and sell it,” he added.

Colonel Gadaffi’s family has remained largely out of the media spotlight since the Libyan dictator’s death during the state’s 2011 revolution. Gadaffi’s passing marked the end of his 42-year reign as state leader.

Rival insurgents have battled for power ever since, ousting Libya’s internationally recognized rulers from the state’s capital and sparking fears of a full-blown civil war.

Last month, Britain’s ex-director of MI6 Sir John Sawers called for a debate about UK military intervention in Libya.

Sawers said the country has descended into “growing chaos” after Britain joined US airstrikes to bring down Gaddafi's regime.

However, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has rejected calls for military intervention, insisting a political solution must be found to Libya's struggle against the Islamic State.

Hammond stresses efforts to install a national unity government will help Libya in its struggle against terror groups.

A state of unrest

Libya has remained restless since the demise of its autocratic ruler in 2011. After the uprising, sharp political divisions surfaced in the country, yielding two opposing governments each of which runs its own institutions and armed forces.

The separate parliaments, located in the eastern city of Tobruk and Libya’s capital Tripoli, currently vie for supremacy.

​Ex-MI6 chief urges debate over Libya intervention after ISIS beheads Coptic Christians
Since Libya’s 2011 uprising, accompanied by NATO airstrikes, critics argue the state has been abandoned by the West and left without any foreign assistance to foster stability.

There has been no attempt to manage a transition to a new system of rule, as Western allies did in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Following the release of a video depicting the brutal beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya earlier this year, the Egyptian government launched airstrikes against IS targets in the region.

Libya has also appealed to the UN Security Council to lift its arm embargo, in a bid to counter threats from the Islamic State and other militants.
Jonathan: I Won’t Give Opposition Chance to Rule
Tuesday, 03 March 2015 05:02
Written by Isiaka Wakili
Nigerian Daily Trust

President Goodluck Jonathan said yesterday that his government would not give the opposition the opportunity to rule Nigeria.

Jonathan made the assertion while launching the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Wards’ Volunteer Scheme at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

The scheme is a campaign strategy targeting the grass-roots using about one million volunteers.

He accused some unnamed people of bitterly criticising his government because of their “frustration, anger and guilt”.

He said: “And I always say that when you see people talking and you see the bitterness in their hearts, you see the frustration, the anger, and you see them as people who are already feeling guilty, if you don’t have a forgiving heart, if you don’t have a clean heart, you cannot rule Nigeria because you cannot give out what you don’t have.”

Jonathan said the PDP had set standards in governance which the opposition could not match because they never had governance experience at the federal level.

“At the state level and at the national level; well, at the national level, we cannot compare our standards with theirs because they have not had the experience, and we will not give them the opportunity. But I know they will not do well,” he said.

He also asserted that the PDP was the only party with members at every voting unit, but lamented that leaders and members of the party had not been marketing its achievements.

“If you go to agricultural sector, transportation sector, education sector, petroleum sector, we’ve opened up the sector such that it has created a lot of room for the big boys in the Nigerian oil sector.

“There is no other party whether two, three, four, five parties coming together. They cannot reach that level. PDP has members in every voting unit in this country”, he said.

PDP states are working

The president also stated that it was only in the states controlled by the PDP that things were working.

He said: “PDP has done very well, but we have not been marketing the achievements of our party.

Sometimes, you see people that have done nothing coming to intimidate us.

“We’re doing better than others. It is only in PDP states that things are working. If I compare the quality of Government Houses and Presidential Lodges, the ones in PDP states are better in quality, even state universities opened by PDP states are better.

“The PDP states are committed to education. But sometimes, people come and say we have done nothing. “The intimidation is more, to the extent that even in the states where we are more, where we even have PDP governors, they come to intimidate us. And we have to resolve that we cannot allow people who are not up to us to intimidate us”.

Our democracy is different

Earlier, PDP BoT Chairman Tony Anenih and PDP Presidential Campaign Council Director-General Ahmadu Ali had stressed the need to strengthen the party at all levels.

They had also called on all  members of the party to work as team players ahead of the March 28 and April 11 general elections.

Ali said some countries, which he described as Nigeria’s former partners, were against Jonathan’s re-election because of the same-sex law.

Ali. however, noted that regardless of what the positions of those countries were, Nigeria has its culture to protect.

He said: “It does not matter what our former partners feel because we did pass the same-sex bill. We are a nation with culture; we have tradition. We have taken our decision and we will abide by it and believe you me the whole of Africa are looking up to us in Nigeria.

“Democracy is not a panacea for all cultures, every country has to interpret a bit of its own culture into it to be able to understand and work it. So, for us to think that what is happening there must happen here is wrong. We must be able to nurture democracy from our own perspective and that is what we are doing. We may falter, they have been there for more than 200 years they are still faltering.”

Ali explained that the event was to unveil the next phase of the PDP’s campaign that would take members deeper into the grassroots.

While urging all party members to work for Jonathan’s victory, he assured them that in the President’s second term, “monkey go work, monkey go chop.”

He assured that those who had been sidelined in the past would have cause to smile in Jonathan’s second term.

Also speaking, the director, Contact and Mobilisation of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Professor Jerry Gana, said the event was aimed at forming greater synergy in the party’s campaign so that a candidate will be campaigning for all party candidates.

“You don’t have to be ashamed to campaign for the President because he has done well. He has done many projects in states. He has done it before, he is doing now, he will do it better in the future,” he said.
Fuel Scarcity Worsens As Federal Government Assures of Adequate Supply
Tuesday, 03 March 2015 05:01
Written by Daniel Adugbo & Mohammed Shosanya
Nigerian Daily Trust

Fuel scarcity that hit parts of the country recently continued yesterday in many parts of the nation, Daily Trust gathered.

Reports from various states say there were long queues at the few filling stations that  are dispensing fuel yesterday.

But the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its downstream subsidiaries have assured that the scarcity will fizzle out in the next three days.

The scarcity persisted in most filling stations across the FCT as motorists spent long hours queuing to buy fuel.

Some motorists who spoke to our reporter said they spent the whole day queuing to buy fuel as filling stations opened their entrance at noon.

Baba Agbola, a taxi driver lamented that he could only start his business at 4 pm after he managed to buy petrol with help from a brother who works at the filling station.

Some filling stations, our reporter gathered, limited sales to motorists to only ten litres, prompting protests and condemnation from motorists who spent long hours on queue.

An independent marketer who doesn’t want his name in print told our reporter that the situation has persisted because private depots are selling at N85 per litre while NNPC depots sold at N77.66 making it difficult for them to make profit.

In Kaduna, Kano and Lagos the story is the same. In Lagos metropolis commuters were stranded in bus stops. Some of the stations in Ikeja, Ikorodu road and Lagos Island monitored by our correspondents yesterday were still shut to customers due to the scarcity of the product.

Meanwhile,Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria(MOMAN) says it stopped importing fuel into the country since last month due to the mounting debt Federal government owed its members.

In Kano, motorists have to drive 30 to 40 km from the city centre to get the fuel at black market which were selling above N87/litre

Executive Secretary of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria(MOMAN) Olawore Obefemi told reporters in Lagos yesterday  that it stopped importing fuel into the country since last month due to the mounting debt Federal Government owed its members, the development that was responsible for the lingering fuel crisis in the country.

The Group Managing Director of the NNPC gave the assurance when he toured some filling stations in Central Area, Abuja.

The GMD was accompanied by Mr Farouk Ahmed, Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Executive Secretary, Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC) Prince Haruna Momoh and Mr. George Osahon, Director Department of Petroleum Resources.

Executive Secretary of the PPPRA, Mr Farouk Ahmed explained that some of the challenges that led to the scarcity were being addressed.

He said “The issues with the marketing companies have to do with Letter of Credit openings with the commercial banks. They had issues concerning their payment which has been addressed by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and banks now have started opening their Letters of Credit.

The MD of PPMC Prince Haruna Momoh on his part assured that it has more than enough in stock for the entire nation.

He said “There is a good build up now till April. With this build up, we are very confident that we will not have any problem in terms of supply…there are challenges with distribution and we will continue to handle those challenges.”

The PPMC MD added that one of the major challenges it has in terms of distribution is the lack of pipeline, “In a situation like this, if we had our pipelines fully in shape then within a day or two, we would have been able to clear the situation because our supply is much more robust as at today”

Also speaking, the Director DPR, Mr George Osahon ruled out the possibility of shutting down erring filling stations but hinted that it will enlist the support of law enforcement officers to ensure marketers comply with petroleum laws.

“We will not shut down filling stations so that we don’t cause too much hardship for other people but anybody that hoards, we will make sure that they sell the fuel and penalize them thereafter because we will not condone that,” he said.

He said the DPR will ensure that those that have fuel don’t hoard them and that people don’t also divert petroleum products.
Nigeria Targets $2 Billion From Cashew Export
Monday, 02 March 2015 21:04
Written by Kingsley Jeremiah
Nigerian Guardian

WITH the declining revenue profile from crude oil, Nigeria may be exploring new initiatives under the non-oil export arrangement, as efforts are underway to improve export of cashew nuts to developed countries.

  Under the diversification agenda being driven by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), the country is targeting at least $2 billion within the next two years as proceeds from the export of the commodity.

    Executive Director of NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo, who revealed this over the week said that Nigeria exported cashew nuts worth $106 million to Vietnam in 2014.

   With concerns expressed on the quality of cashew from Nigeria at a recent Vietnam-Nigeria cashew trade conference, Awolowo noted that the country has put in place a four-year plan to improve cashew exportation.

  “We are working on a four-year development plan. We can make $2 billion in the next two years. We will scale-up the production of cashew nuts and export its raw kernels and also do processing. We have 13 national strategic export products that will replace crude oil in terms of their revenue generation. The future of Nigeria is bright,” he added.

   The NEPC boss, who expressed optimism that the nation would soon return to its lost glory in exporting non-oil products, stressed that the decrease in the prices of oil in the international market was a blessing in disguise.

   “The fall of the oil prices did not surprise us, but we have been working on the diversification of the economy under the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Master Plan. The idea is to fully diversify Nigerian economy by 2020,” he said.

   Awolowo disclosed that measures are already in place to improve standards and high quality of products.

    He also revealed that the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) has established two international standard laboratories to test goods and products for export.

   The Chairman of the National Cashew Association of Nigeria, Babatotla Faseru said the Nigerian market would improve its raw cashew quality by organising training courses for farmers and developing production chains.

   He added that the country would also apply advanced equipment and technology to enhance cashew quality.

   In a report by the Vietnam Cashew Association (Vinacas), in 2014, Vietnam produced a record 1.4 million tonnes of raw cashew nuts, 305,000 tonnes of which were exported, a rise of 16.9 percent from 2013.

   “Throughout the year, Vietnamese enterprises imported 769,000 tonnes, a 59 per cent increase from 2013. As many as 13.4 per cent of the total imports were sourced from Nigeria”, the report said.

- See more at: http://ngrguardiannews.com/business/200297-nigeria-targets-2-billion-from-cashew-export#sthash.wHriCC7d.dpuf
Nigerian Military Said to Have Recovered 30 Communities, Sacking Terrorists
Monday, 02 March 2015 23:03
Written by Karls Tsokar, Abuja and Njadvara Musa Maiduguri
Niigerian Guardian

• Troops kill scores of suspected insurgents in Borno

 THE Nigerian military says it has secured at least 30 communities that were previously under the control of the Boko Haram sect, as hundreds of terrorists perished in renewed operations in the Northeast.  This came as yesterday’s attempt by suspected Boko Haram terrorists to recapture Konduga town in Borno State from the Nigerian soldiers was foiled by the soldiers.

  It was learnt that the insurgents who disguised as herdsmen with cattle crossing the road at 6.45am, could not beat the Nigerian soldiers to the game of deceit as the troops of 7 Division of the Nigerian Army in Borno State clashed with the hoodlums and effectively repelled them.

  A statement on the Twitter handle of the Nigerian Defence Headquarters said the military operations carried out in the Northeast — particularly “Yobe State — to flush out the insurgents from their remaining hideouts,” has been successful.

  It said: “Troops are dominating operations in Kukawa, Geri, Gujba in Yobe to rid the terrorists...”

  Recently, Nigerian troops routed terrorists from Bara, the headquarters of Gulani Local Government Area. On Sunday night, the troops also invaded Kukawa, Geri, Gujba in Yobe State and Gulag, the headquarters of Madagali Local Government Area of Adamawa State.

  Other locations also cleared in the course of the operation, according to the Defence Headquarters, included, Shikah, Fikayel, Tetebah, Buza, Kamla and Bumsa. With the massive military operations, the troops have also recovered Monguno, Marte, Gamboru Ngala, Dikwa, Baga, among other big towns and communities.

  Other localities where troops have flushed out the terrorists in the operations, preceding the entry to Baga, include Gajigana, Ngaze, Ngenzai, Marte Junction, Yoyo, Kekeno, Kukawa, Cross Kauwa, Kangarwa and Amirari.

  The military said that the troops’ attention, having successfully liberated many of the towns, “has now been focused on consolidation of the security of the areas to pave way for return of citizens to their normal life and for peaceful conduct of forthcoming elections.”

  Interestingly, the troops have maintained its victory over the Boko Haram sect with renewed confidence, since Defence Headquarters asked for a six-week postponement of elections for the military to be able to make every part of the country, especially the Northeast safe for next month’s polls.

  Sources within the military said that terrorists in their hundreds had been dislodged, eliminated or fled the area because of the effectiveness of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF)

  Konduga, often attacked by insurgents, which have been successfully repelled by soldiers, is 40 kilometres east of Maiduguri, the state capital.

  Bukar Fantami, a resident of Konduga, who fled to Maiduguri yesterday afternoon, said that the clash lasted for about 25 minutes before the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fighter jet arrived and killed most of the terror suspects who disguised as cattle herdsmen crossing the Maiduguri-Bama road.

  He said: “After the dawn prayers, I started hearing gunshots towards the Sambisa Forest and some people started to scamper for safety, before I started hearing the sounds of fighter jet hovering over us for some minutes. When the jet returned, again into this village, there were sounds of explosions that lasted for a few minutes, while the soldiers patrolling this village took cover in the trenches.”

  On how the terrorists were killed, Fantami said: “Some villagers have to flee, while others remained in their houses for over an hour, before the gunshots and explosions ceased when we discovered that all the Boko Haram gunmen that disguised as herdsmen have been killed yesterday morning. The insurgents had been attacking us on several occasions, and many of them could not survive the repulsions of our soldiers stationed here.”

  Confirming the incident yesterday in Maiduguri, a military source who does not want to be quoted on Konduga attack said that the several attacks on the village were to “pave ways and access” to launch attacks on the state capital.

  “The military will never allow these terrorists capture Konduga so that they can launch their multiple attacks on Maiduguri metropolis. They have attempted through the gateways of Njimtilo, Molai, Tungushe and Ngom villages, but failed as we repelled the insurgents who suffered higher casualties in the last six months,” the military source said.

- See more at: http://ngrguardiannews.com/news/national-news/200329-military-recovers-30-communities-sacks-terrorists#sthash.YpBO96rH.dpuf
ECOWAS Court Pledges Protection for 750,000 Stateless Persons
Monday, 02 March 2015 22:30
Written by Abosede Musari Abuja
Nigerian Guardian

PRESIDENT of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, Her Lordship Honorable Justice Maria Do Céu Silva Monteiro has pledged the court’s commitment to protecting the fundamental human rights of the 750,000 stateless persons that reside in West Africa, under its mandate, which was expanded in 2005 to protect the rights of ECOWAS citizens.

   Justice Monteiro, who gave this assurance at an ECOWAS Ministerial meeting on Statelessness held in Abidjan recently, stated the court’s determination to faithfully exercise this mandate in order to ensure the protection of the human rights of the citizens, noting that discrimination against stateless persons should be viewed as a violation of their human rights which can be the subject of litigation.

   A statement from the ECOWAS Court, read that the ECOWAS Court president described the 1982 regional Protocol defining community citizenship in ECOWAS as ‘outdated’ and called for its revision taking cognizance of the evolving regional and international dynamics of citizenship.

   According to her, some member states have amended their constitution to permit dual citizenship, which is not recognized by the Protocol. “Moreover, by making community citizenship ‘subservient to the national laws of Member States who are actually the violators of the rights of stateless persons,’ the Protocol has become inappropriate as a tool for addressing statelessness,” the statement read.

   The Honourable Justice was quoted to have praised the UN High Commission for Refugees, which jointly organized the ministerial meeting with the ECOWAS Commission, for constituting an important voice for the promotion and protection of human rights particularly in Africa.

   Describing the right to nationality as critical to the realization of other fundamental human rights, the president lamented that despite this recognition and various international declarations on human rights, an estimated 10 million people remain stateless around the world.

   The President led the court’s delegation, which included Vice President, Honorable Justice Friday Chijioke Nwoke, to the meeting, which adopted a Declaration on the Prevention, Reduction and Elimination of Statelessness.

   The Declaration contains 25 commitments and highlights in particular the necessity for ECOWAS member states to generate concrete information on the causes of statelessness and the number and profile of stateless persons in the region.

   At least 750,000 people are stateless or at risk of statelessness in the region and are subject to life in limbo, with limited access to education, healthcare, and employment.

- See more at: http://ngrguardiannews.com/news/national-news/200326-ecowas-court-pledges-protection-for-750-000-stateless-persons#sthash.hDAqvKvV.dpuf
Cuban Revolution: Our Sole Achievement Is Having Fulfilled Our Duty
Remarks by Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, during the event commemorating the 120th anniversary of the re-initiation of Cuba’s War of Independence, and the decoration of the Cuban Five, in Havana’s Convention Center, February 24, 2015, “Year 57 of the Revolution”

Author: Granma | internet@granma.cu
February 25, 2015 16:02:29
(Council of State transcript)

DEAR compañero Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers; Compañeras and compañeros:

Honoring the Cuban men and women who on a day such as this, 120 years ago, decided to return to arms to struggle for the homeland’s independence, is the best way to accept the “Hero of the Republic” honorific title, which has generously been awarded to five Cubans of these times whose achievement was none other than that of having fulfilled our duty.

José Martí, the soul of that national uprising of February 24, 1895, stated that the ability to be a hero is measured by the respect shown those who have been heroes. Thus, on a day such as this, our first thought is one of gratitude and loyalty to those who throughout history, with their sacrifice, have made possible that we live in a socialist, revolutionary, victorious Cuba, conscious that it is up to our generation, and those which are to come, to defend the continuity of this work, the dreams and ideals of our liberators.

The first thoughts of the Five today must be for a man whose leadership and strategic vision were decisive to the battle which led to our freedom, and who with his example instilled in us a spirit of struggle, resistance and sacrifice. And who taught us that the word surrender does not exist in the dictionary of a revolutionary, and who, very early on, assured all Cubans that the Five would return to the homeland. Comandante en Jefe: This distinction which we proudly receive today is also yours. (Applause)

To our Army General Raúl Castro, who did not rest until what Fidel had promised was accomplished, to all the men and women who already wear this honorable star on their chests, and were always an example to the Five, we say: This distinction is also yours. (Applause)

To the Cuban people who made the cause of the Five their own, and still today encourage us with their support and affection; to the leadership of our country’s Party and government; to the mass organizations, institutions, attorneys, religious bodies, figures and governments from other countries which stood in solidarity with our cause: This distinction is also yours. (Applause)

We also thank the sisters and brothers throughout the entire world who struggled shoulder to shoulder with us, over 16 years of legal and political battles, and say: This distinction is also yours. (Applause)

To our families, who struggled, suffered, and resisted with firmness for so many years, and to all of the persons who deserve to see this day but are no longer among us: This distinction is also yours. (Applause)

To the faceless heroes and heroines who will never be able to receive a public tribute such as this, but who have dedicated, dedicate, and will dedicate tomorrow, their lives to the defense of the country from anonymous trenches: Know, wherever you may be, that this distinction is also yours. (Applause)

This honor we receive today is, at the same time, a summons which demands that we rise to the occasion to meet the new challenges which the Revolution faces. More than a few times since our return, compatriots have approached us to say that they would have liked to have had the opportunity the Five had to protect our people from aggression. To them, and to all Cuban patriots, we say that our mission has not ended, and that they can join in.

The updating of our economic model in an effort to achieve a more efficient, prosperous and sustainable socialism, as well as the process of reestablishing relations with the United States, create a conjuncture of change, which demands that all of us act with intelligence, professionalism, commitment and conviction, to identify and confront the challenges and new perils which are coming.

There are, and will be, many ways to defend Cuba, and Cuba will always need loyal sons and daughters to protect her. It is encouraging to us to know that in the heart of this revolutionary people there are many “Five” willing to sacrifice all for their homeland.

With Ramón, René, Fernando and Antonio, we accept with pride and gratitude this great honor which the homeland confers upon us. The homeland can count on these five soldiers who today, before our people, reaffirm our commitment to serve you until our final days, and to always be loyal to the ideas of Martí, of Che, of Fidel and of Raúl. Thank you very much. (Applause)
Digitalization of Society Key to Economic Development
With Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez in attendance, Cuba’s First National Digitalization and Cyber-security Workshop opened yesterday, February 18. Making information and telecommunications technology a strategic development sector in the country is one of the central challenges facing experts in this area and a national priority.

Author: Granma | internet@granma.cu
february 19, 2015 10:02:00

Making information and telecommunications technology a strategic development sector in the country is one of the central challenges facing experts in this area, and a national priority of concern to the highest levels of government leadership.

In this context, Cuba’s First National Digitalization and Cyber-security Workshop, which began yesterday February 18, represents an important step forward toward greater efficiency and better quality of life. Although the amount of work to be done is great, specialists emphasized that the country now has some three million users of digital networks, including institutional platforms, e-mail, and Internet.

While the expansion of services is reflected in the 2.5 million mobile phone users; 154 community Internet centers; and more than half a million mobile phone users with e-mail access.

Digital television in Havana and provincial capitals is now available to some 250,000 persons. Discussed during the inaugural session held in Havana, and transmitted to 20 sites across the country, was the development of basic policies on security measures; national priorities; and the creation of a national organization for information technology professionals.
Cuban Communist Party Central Committee Holds Tenth Plenum
Approved during the meeting was the preparation of a group of activities to be implemented in the period 2015-2018, in fulfillment of various agreements approved during the Sixth PCC Congress.

Author: Granma | internet@granma.cu
february 24, 2015 11:02:09

The Tenth Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, presided by its First Secretary, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, approved, on Monday, February 23, the preparation of a variety of activities to be implemented in the period 2015-2018, in fulfillment of various agreements approved during the Sixth PCC Congress.

The Seventh PCC Congress will be held in April, 2016.

This programming includes the Seventh PCC Congress; the perfecting of the country’s Political Administration Division; the generalization of the new model of functioning of local assemblies of People’s Power, currently underway in the provinces of Artemisa and Mayabeque; as well as the election process.

According to what was announced, the Seventh PCC Congress will be held in April 2016. Thus, from now through April 2015, municipal and provincial assemblies will be held; the preparation of cadres and militants will be carried out; in addition to popular consultation, and the processing and approval of final documents.

The main objective of perfecting the Political Administrative Division is to strengthen the role of the municipality as a key element in the country’s territorial government management system, with the necessary autonomy to effectively carry out its functions, supported by a solid economic base.

Similarly, the process of expanding the implementation of the new model for local assemblies of People’s Power will be carried out simultaneously with studies and the realization of the new Political Administrative Division.

In regards to the election process, partial elections have been scheduled to take place in April, 2015, in addition to the enactment of the new Electoral Law, and the subsequent holding of general elections.

Highlighted during the Tenth Plenary Session was the need to work intensively and systematically in the drafting, conciliation and approval of documents which will be analyzed in the Seventh PCC Congress; the important legislative work the National Assembly will have in the coming years; and the political, ideological and organizational efforts to be realized, given the political importance of all these processes.

Finally, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, a member of the Party Political Bureau and minister of Foreign Relations, offered information about the current state of relations between Cuba and the United States.
Fidel Meets the Five
On February 28, the Cuban leader received the Five anti-terrorists and conversed about the many years of injustice they suffered

Author: Fidel Castro Ruz | internet@granma.cu
March 2, 2015 11:03:08

I received them on Saturday, February 28, 73 days after they stepped foot on Cuban soil. Three of them had served 15 long years of their youth breathing in the damp, foul smelling, repugnant air of yankee prison cells, after being convicted by venal judges. The other two, who also attempted to stop the empire’s criminal plans against their homeland, were also sentenced to various years of brutal imprisonment.

The very same investigating bodies, completely devoid of the most basic sense of justice, participated in their inhumane incarceration.

Cuban intelligence services had absolutely no need to track the movements of a single U.S. military team, as they could observe from space everything that moved on our planet through the Lourdes Radio Electronic Exploration Centre, located to the south of the Cuban capital. This center was able to detect any moving object thousands of miles from our country.

The Five anti-terrorist Heroes, who never did any harm to the United States, worked to anticipate and prevent terrorist acts against our people, organized by U.S. intelligence agencies which the world knows more than enough about.

None of the Five Heroes carried out their work in search of applause, awards or glory. They received their honorific titles because they didn’t seek them out. They, their wives, parents, children, siblings and fellow citizens, we all have the legitimate right to feel proud.

In July 1953, when we attacked the Moncada barracks, I was 26 years old and had far less experience than that which they demonstrated. If they were in the U.S. it wasn’t to harm that country, or take revenge for the crimes being organized there and the explosives that were being stockpiled to be used against our country. Attempting to stop this was absolutely legitimate.

The first thing they did upon arrival was greet their families, friends and people, without neglecting for a minute the rigorous health checkup.

I was happy for hours yesterday. I heard amazing tales of heroism from the group presided by Gerardo and supported by them all, including the painter and poet, whom I met while he was building one of his works in the Santiago de Cuba airfield. And their wives? Their sons and daughters? Sisters and mothers? Was I not also going to receive them? Well, their return and joy must also be celebrated with the family!

Yesterday, I immediately wanted to converse with the Five Heroes. For five hours this is what we did. Fortunately, yesterday I also had enough time to request that they invest part of their immense prestige in something that will be extremely useful for our people.

Fidel Castro Ruz

March 1, 2015

10:12 p.m.

Monday, March 02, 2015

The Five Are Awarded the Honorific Titles of Heroes of the Republic of Cuba
The Five Cuban anti-terrorists, unjustly imprisoned in the United States were awarded the honorific title of Hero of the Republic of Cuba and the Order of Playa Girón by President Raúl Castro, during an event commemorating the 120th anniversary of the re-initiation of Cuba’s War of Independence, on February 24

Author: Granma | internet@granma.cu
february 25, 2015 15:02:55

The Five Cuban anti-terrorists, unjustly imprisoned in the United States were awarded the honorific title of Hero of the Republic of Cuba and the Order of Playa Girón by President Raúl Castro, during an event commemorating the 120th anniversary of the re-initiation of Cuba’s War of Independence, on February 24.

Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, René and Fernando González were arrested by U.S. authorities in 1998 and sentenced in a rigged trial to long prison terms for warning of violent acts launched against Cuba by terrorist groups based in U.S. territory.

In 2001, the National Assembly of People's Power granted them the honorary status that distinguished them as Heroes of the Republic of Cuba, but the pinning of the distinction on their chests had to wait until this day.

The imperative was the struggle for the liberation of these men, with the motto of the words spoken by the historic leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro, when he said, “The innocence of these patriots is complete. I tell you just one thing: they will return!”

And they did return, after a struggle that mobilized thousands of people worldwide for a just cause.

Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio arrived in Cuba after being released last December 17; Fernando and René had previously returned after serving their sentences in full.

This February 24, they were recognized in a formal ceremony, “for having fulfilled with dedication, dignity and firmness the sacred mission of defending our country protecting it from terrorism, risking their lives and enduring enormous sacrifices in a hostile and aggressive environment.”

For that dedication, dignity and firmness, they also received the Order of Playa Girón awarded by the Council of State.

Gerardo Hernández, on behalf of the Five, thanked Fidel, Raúl, the people of Cuba and all those across the world who made possible the release and return of himself and his companions to their homeland.

“The first thoughts of the Five today must be for a man whose leadership and strategic vision were decisive to the battle which led to our freedom, and who with his example instilled in us a spirit of struggle, resistance and sacrifice. A man who taught us that the word surrender does not exist in the dictionary of a revolutionary...Comandante en Jefe: this distinction which we proudly receive today is also yours,” he expressed in words dedicated to Fidel.

Subsequently, the deputy and Havana City Historian, Eusebio Leal, traced the country's history, reviving voyages and heroes that led to the emergence of the nation. As an emotional climax, the children's theater company, La Colmenita, honored the Five and their example with the play Abracadabra.
Fidel Castro's Revolutionary Lover Dies at the Age of 89
BBC World Service

Natalia Revuelta, a Cuban socialite who emptied her bank account and sold her jewellery to support Fidel Castro when he was planning his insurgency, has died at the age of 89 in Havana.

She caught the eye of Fidel Castro when he was a young revolutionary in 1952.

He used her home for meetings when he was plotting the start of the revolution.

They later had an affair that produced a daughter, Alina, but they never married.

Natalia Revuelta was considered one of the most beautiful women in Cuba.

Blonde and green-eyed, she was a noticeable figure in Havana's social scene when she met Fidel Castro in 1952.

She was married at the time to a heart surgeon nearly twenty years her senior but observers said she appeared to have had an appetite for revolution and adventure.

Pawned jewels

She allowed Mr Castro to use her home for meetings when he was beginning to plot his insurgency.

She handed over all her savings to support his movement and later pawned her sapphires, emeralds and diamond jewellery for his cause.

The couple never married and Fidel Castro initially refused to recognise his daughter.

When he did, she was twelve years old and struggled to reconcile with her natural father.

In 1993, Alina left Cuba disguised as a Spanish tourist to live in the US.

Her mother Natalia was "one of an extraordinary contingent of beautiful and highly intelligent women who dedicated their lives to Castro and his cause", said one of his biographers, Tad Szulc.

Although Mrs Revuelta had little contact with the Cuban leader once their affair was over, she remained in Cuba holding various government jobs.

In an interview she once said she was never bitter that Fidel Castro put his revolutionary project first. But she added, "it took years to get him out of my heart."
Area of Los Angeles Police Shooting Long a Haven for the Poor
By JOHN ROGERS Associated Press
MARCH 2, 2015

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Skid Row section of Los Angeles, where police officers fatally shot a homeless man on Sunday during a fierce struggle captured on video, is notorious as one of the nation's most gritty and depressing areas.

An estimated 1,700 people go to sleep on its sidewalks or in its bushes and alleys each night, while thousands more seek shelter in missions and modest hotels.


Skid Row is roughly 50 square blocks of liquor stores, warehouses, charitable missions and a few modest businesses. Sidewalks and one small park accommodate hundreds of tents.

It's all located within walking distance of such prominent Los Angeles landmarks as City Hall, the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Museum of Contemporary Art.


Once an agricultural area, Skid Row began to take shape as an urban center in the late 1800s when its location near rail yards spawned flophouse hotels, bars and houses of prostitution to service agricultural workers.

During the Depression, the area was flooded with a new wave of migrants, including many escaping the Dust Bowl desolation of the Midwest. Folk singer Woody Guthrie, who spent time in Skid Row, declared it "the skiddiest of all Skid Rows" in his 1943 autobiography "Bound For Glory."

The area later became populated by drug addicts and alcoholics seeking day work in warehouses, a phenomenon chronicled by poet Charles Bukowski in the 1990 documentary "The Best Hotel on Skid Row."


With numerous agencies, missions, nonprofits and other organizations dedicated to helping the homeless, Skid Row has sometimes been a dumping ground for hospitals releasing patients with nowhere else to go.

Glendale Adventist Medical Center settled a patient-dumping lawsuit in 2014 by agreeing to pay $700,000 while acknowledging no wrongdoing.

In an essay published in the Los Angeles Downtown News last June, police Lt. Deon Joseph, who has patrolled the area for 17 years, complained that the number of mentally ill residents is reaching dangerous proportions. Many are law-abiding citizens victimized by criminals, Joseph said, while others "begin to self-medicate on the plethora of illicit narcotics being sold throughout the area."


Police have tried to get homeless people to remove their tents, sleeping bags and shopping carts from sidewalks each day to discourage living on the street. Homeless advocates went to court to block the effort.

In recent years, the nonprofit SRO Housing Corp. has purchased and refurbished several structures, turning them into modest but clean apartments for homeless people.


Gentrification has creeped onto the edges of Skid Row. Several upscale apartments and condo buildings now ring the area. An art gallery, pet-grooming business and a handful of boutiques, hipster bars and restaurants have actually moved inside its outer edges, pushing the homeless population deeper into the core of the neighborhood.
CPP Calls For Justice On Ghana’s Darkest Day
By The Convention People’s Party – CPP

24th February approaches again and a new generation of Ghanaians step forward to mark Forty-nine years of the greatest treason in Ghana’s history, for it was on 24 February 1966 that a great vision for our nation was interrupted with the coup that toppled Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s CPP government. This was the day that robbed Ghanaians of an economic breakthrough that would have put us on par with countries like Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea and truncated a bright future for subsequent generations.

The anniversary comes at a particularly difficulty and worrying time for our nation with Dumsor continuing unabated, increasing unemployment, endemic corruption with impunity, unprecedented hardship and poverty.

It is against this background and with great concern about our nation and the plight of all Ghanaians that the Youth of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) will mark the occasion with a demonstration calling for Justice – Political Justice, Economic Justice and Social Justice for all Ghanaians.

The CPP does not believe that the problems confronting the nation is just about Dumsor but about a radical departure from the way our country is run to reconnect politics to the people it serves.

We believe that our society needs to be transformed, our economy rebuilt so as to create a platform of justice for all.

Both the 1966 coup and the 1979 coups were used by our opponents to give themselves every opportunity and every advantage in the political arena. CPP assets were seized and its leading figures driven into exile, all as part of a plan to destroy the CPP forever and in the process destroy its vision for the country.

Restoring that vision calls for restoration of CPP assets as part of building that Platform of Justice for all.

As the CPP marks the darkest day in the history of the nation, we draw strength from the relevance of that vision to re-capture the spirit and strategies that created the Akosombo Dam, the Tema harbor and township, free and compulsory education, hundreds of well-planned and integrated industries, revolutionized agriculture, a de-tribalized society and set the pace in development for the continent.

We must return to Self-reliance, self-sufficiency and a good Development Plan as we did under CPP Governance to transform the structure of the Ghanaian economy from one that is depended on the export of a few raw materials into an industrialized and prosperous society where the basic needs of its citizens are met.

Ghana needs an alternative framework for socio-economic transformation and diversification of our exports. We need a structural change in our economy, which adds value to our agricultural produce and our precious minerals, through processing, increasing our manufacturing capabilities, and developing our skills for improved labour productivity using existing technology.

This alternative framework will consolidate ownership of our natural resources, address the challenges facing the manufacturing sub-sector in Ghana in view of the important role manufacturing plays in the creation of decent jobs and poverty reduction. We need to support indigenous entrepreneurs through specific policies such as providing advisory services to local businesses, facilitating the establishment of industrial parks, and better access to credit. Government can ensure we encourage local manufacturers by securing purchases as soon as they start production. We should reward companies doing well and give them specific inducements.

Despite an average growth rate of about 5 percent over the last two decades, single digit inflation, lower middle-income status and relative macro-economic stability, these indicators have not improved conditions for our people. Many are without jobs, have no running water and certainly our power supply has collapsed.

We have been banned and betrayed, banished and bombed, exiled, incarcerated, ridiculed and our assets seized, yet we are still standing. The greater the challenge, the bigger our love for Ghana, and the stronger our determination to serve and to put Ghana to work.

This is why on the 24th February we will be out demonstrating for Justice – restoration of an alternative framework and restoration of CPP assets to pursue a truncated vision

Forward Ever! CPPGOVTNOW!

Nii Armah Akomfrah
CPP Director of Communication
www.convention peoplesparty.org

Sunday, March 01, 2015

WSU to Honor Civil Rights Martyr Viola Liuzzo With Degree
Susan Whitall, The Detroit News 11:43 p.m. EST
February 26, 2015

Mary Liuzzo Lilleboe cried when she got the call from Wayne State University telling her that her mother, the late Viola Gregg Liuzzo, would be granted an honorary doctor of laws.

Then Kim Trent, who called on behalf of the school, cried.

Liuzzo, a Detroit mother of five, was murdered by Ku Klux Klan night riders on March 25, 1965, as she drove her Oldsmobile on a highway near Selma, Alabama. Liuzzo, 39, was a student at Wayne State and the wife of Teamsters business agent Anthony Liuzzo.

The degree from Wayne State, the first time the university has bestowed one posthumously, will be the highlight of three days of honors, April 10-12, that are pegged to Liuzzo's April 11 birthday (she would have been 90).

It's a time of heightened awareness of what happened in Alabama 50 years ago, prompted by the feature film "Selma" which went into wide release in early January and focuses on the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the violence-plagued voting rights marches in Alabama in 1965.

Liuzzo felt compelled to drive to Selma that year after seeing TV images of voting rights marchers being beaten and hearing King's national call for help. She went despite her husband's misgivings.

"There's a magic to the movie 'Selma,' and now the degree from Wayne, that makes us feel this is a very significant time for all of us," said Liuzzo's daughter, Lilleboe, 66. She and three of her siblings Penny, Tony and Sally will travel to Detroit in April for the Wayne State honor.

Trent, who is on Wayne State's Board of Governors, became emotional while talking to Lilleboe because she'd tried 10 years ago to get an honorary degree for Liuzzo, unsuccessfully. After Trent saw the film "Selma" (in which Liuzzo is depicted) and read a story in The Detroit News on Liuzzo's life, she decided to renew her effort, now as a member of the board. This time, the board voted unanimously to grant Liuzzo the honor.

"It really means the world to me, that we're planning these events," Trent said. "Her death is what makes her such a significant leader. She was someone who was willing to sacrifice her life. If you talk to her family, they'll tell you she knew the danger of going to Selma. She was not naive. I felt that kind of bravery should be acknowledged by the university."

As part of the April weekend's events, Wayne's Law School will dedicate a tree or greenspace in Liuzzo's name in the Law School courtyard, and Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, will give a lecture about her activism.

"She walked right into danger," said Gary Pollard, chairman of WSU's Board of Governors. "She had a just heart, she wanted to do right by people, and ended up losing her life in such a tragic way."

Education meant the world to Liuzzo, her family said. She'd grown up in poverty in Georgia and Tennessee, especially after her father lost his hand in a coal mining accident. The Greggs moved to Detroit so Liuzzo's mother could work on a Ford assembly line and support the family.

It wasn't until Liuzzo was married to a man with a solid income that she was able to pursue her education. She earned a certificate as a medical technician, then she enrolled in Wayne State's nursing program.

"My mother knew that education was the way out of poverty and oppression," Lillieboe said. "She saw it as a way to level the playing field." Liuzzo used to tell her children how as a child she once stole money from a cash register to give to a poor black child. "She came to realize that, as badly as she was treated, being poor, a poor black child was treated even worse," her daughter said.

When Liuzzo was growing up in the 1930s and '40s, most of her family and friends aspired to graduate from high school and get a job. She wanted more, and was particularly interested in medicine.

"As soon as Sally (her youngest child) was born, she decided to fulfill what she always wanted — an education," Lillieboe said.

Liuzzo's intense idealism about racial inequality and the suppression of black voting rights prompted her to go to protests in downtown Detroit with other Wayne State students.

The day after her death, as a Detroit News reporter interviewed the family at their home on Marlowe in northwest Detroit, 6-year-old daughter Sally asked, "Why couldn't Mommy have just died from being old?"

"She died doing what she believed in," her father, Anthony Liuzzo replied (Liuzzo, who worked for Teamsters Local 247, died in 1978).

That a white woman from the North could be murdered while volunteering at a march caused such revulsion over civil rights violence nationally, it helped push through the Voting Rights Bill of 1965 and prompted a federal crackdown on the Ku Klux Klan.

Even though she was praised as a civil rights martyr, the national furor over her death and attendant scrutiny was hard on her family. Her husband received hate mail, including a photo of his murdered wife in her car. He and the children — Penny, 18; Mary, 17; Tommy, 14; Tony, 10; and Sally, 6 — were under siege in their house. They were guarded first by Teamsters, then hired security. A cross was burned on their front lawn, and the children were harassed at school.

Over the years, as their efforts to sue the government over her death failed (a paid FBI informant was in the car of Klansmen who followed and murdered her), her children have struggled with their mother's martyrdom.

It took decades, but Lilleboe said she's finally found peace, especially after reading the letters and emails from young people on the Facebook page Viola Liuzzo Civil Rights Martyr. She and her siblings will also gather this month in Selma, at events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the voting rights marches.

"We've been living with her death for 50 years. My whole thing is getting back her life," Lilleboe said. "That's why this degree is so beautiful. It's in recognition of her life, beyond her martyrdom and death."

Wayne State's Trent said Liuzzo is a particularly apt role model for the school, "particularly because she was a mature student, almost 40 when she died," she said. "We have a lot of nontraditional students, and students who think about changing the world. There is no better example of that than Mrs. Liuzzo."

WSU events honoring Viola Gregg Liuzzo

1:30 p.m. April 10: Wayne State will grant a posthumous honorary doctor of laws degree to Liuzzo in a ceremony at the Spencer Partrich Auditorium.

Later in the afternoon, the law school will dedicate a tree or greenspace in Liuzzo's name.

April 13: Morris Dees, co-founder and chief trial counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center, will speak about Liuzzo at the annual Dean Robb Public Interest Lecture in a talk entitled "With Justice for All in a Changing America." The Robb lecture is named for Dean A. Robb, a longtime activist/civil rights attorney (and Wayne law alumnus), and is meant to "inspire law students, attorneys, public interest groups and citizens to become more active in public service and public interest law."

Non-Wayne State events

1 p.m. April 11: Macomb Community College professor of history Michael Placco will talk about Liuzzo's early years, her involvement in civil rights, her murder and the years of legal proceedings her family endured. Location: Room K130, WCC's Albert L. Lorenzo Cultural Center, 44575 Garfield, Clinton Township.

April 11: Organizers are hoping to rededicate a refurbished Viola Liuzzo Playground in northwest Detroit.

Several other events by various groups honoring Liuzzo, including a screening of the 2004 documentary about her, "Home of the Brave," are in the works.
Sisi Says Media Attacks on Qatar Reflection of Public Opinion
Since the 2013 removal of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi as president, Qatar and Egypt have seen their ties worsen with ongoing diplomatic disputes

Ahram Online
Saturday 28 Feb 2015

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi says local media criticism of Qatar is only a reflection of public anger towards the Gulf state, asserting that Egyptian media outlets have a margin of freedom and are not controlled by the authorities.

"There are opinions that people believe are ours [the government’s] whereas these views, in fact, reflect the anger of the Egyptian people and public opinion," he said during a protracted interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, published on Saturday.

Relations between Cairo and Doha have soured since the 2013 removal of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was robustly backed by Qatar.

Since then, there have been heated exchanges between Egypt and Qatar, both in the media and on official levels.

In December 2013, Egypt declared the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which Morsi hails, a terrorist organisation.

Qatar has provided a number of leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood with refuge since the ouster of Morsi.

The Qatari-based Al Jazeera has taunted El-Sisi's government with accusations of violating human rights in its campaign against the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Cairo, which has been battling an Islamist insurgency in Sinai, has recently accused Doha of supporting terrorism.

El-Sisi is set to arrive in Saudi Arabia on Sunday for talks with the Saudi new monarch Salman Bin Abdel-Aziz to discuss a range of regional and bilateral issues.

Saudi Arabia has been mediating a reconciliation between Cairo and Doha.
Unknown Assailants Bomb Electricity Pylon in Egypt's Sharqiya
Ahram Online
Saturday 28 Feb 2015

The assailants used four improvised explosive devices to destroy the pylon

Unknown assailants bombed an electricity pylon in Egypt's Sharqiya governorate early Saturday causing the pylon to fall, which then lead to a power outage in Al-Ghafareya village.

The assailants used four improvised explosive devices to destroy the pylon, an initial police investigation revealed.

The manager of electricity lines in Sharqiya, Hamdy Metwally, told official news agency MENA that alternate pylons were used to supply Al-Ghafareya village with electricity until a new pylon is built.

A new pylon will take two weeks to build, at a cost of LE1 million (around $131, 000), Metwally added.

Since the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, militant attacks have been on the rise. Electricity pylons and railway tracks are often targeted.

Four Brotherhood Members Sentenced to Death; Life in Prison for Supreme Guide
Ahram Online
Saturday 28 Feb 2015

The death sentences were issued in December and have since been confirmed by the grand mufti, although all defendants can appeal

A Cairo criminal court on Sunday confirmed the death penalty for four leading Muslim Brotherhood members, and sentenced the group's spiritual leader, Mohamed Badie, to life in prison.

In December 2014 the court sentenced the four men to death and referred the sentences to the grand mufti for consideration.

The mufti endorsed the court's December decision.

Those convicted were accused of murder, inciting murder, attempted murder, possession of firearms, and joining an armed group that aims to terrorise citizens during clashes outside the Muslim Brotherhood's Cairo headquarters on 30 June 2013, which left 12 protesters dead and 91 others injured.

The men sentenced to death are Mohamed Abdel-Azeem El-Beshlawy, Mostafa Abdel-Azim Fahmy, Atef Abdel-Azim Mohamed and Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Abdel-Rahim.

Fourteen others received life sentences including Badie's deputy Khairat El-Shater and leading members Mohamed El-Beltagy, Essam El-Erian, and Mohamed Mahdy Akef.

The verdicts can still be appealed.

Badie and El-Beltagy and other Brotherhood leaders have been facing multiple trialsin relation to violent acts committed by Morsi followers following the police's bloody dispersal of two pro-Morsi vigils in August 2013.

Courts have recently issued mass death sentences against hundreds of Morsi supporters.

Many of these decisions were later reduced or overturned on appeal.

The Brotherhood was declared a terrorist organisation in December 2013.

Since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, thousands of Brotherhood members have been arrested, and many face charges of inciting murder or violence, or membership in a terrorist group.

Egyptian Court Rules Hamas a Terrorist Organisation
Ahram Online
Saturday 28 Feb 2015

The relationship between Egypt and Hamas, the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip, has been tense since the ouster of Morsi in 2013

The Cairo Court for Urgent Matters on Saturday ruled Hamas a terrorist organisation, a month after the group's military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, was also designated a terror group by the same court.

The verdict resulted from two separate private suits filed by Samir Sabry and Ashraf Said, both lawyers, against the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip.

The relationship between Egypt's authorities and the Islamist group has soured since the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestinian sister organisation.

Egypt's cabinet declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group in December 2013, and the authorities have since charged many Brotherhood members with offences including support for terrorism.

Egypt has accused Hamas of meddling into its internal affairs and supporting Islamist insurgents in Sinai, accusations that the group has repeatedly denied.

Cairo has kept the Rafah crossing to the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip closed for extended periods since Morsi's ouster.

The court's reasoning on Saturday for designating Hamas a terrorist organisation mirrored its January Al-Qassam ruling.

In January, the court said that Al-Qassam's and Hamas' "support and financing of terrorist attacks in Egypt show that they have swayed from their original cause of fighting the Israeli occupation."

In recent months, the Egyptian government has been strengthening penalties for acts of terrorism in its penal code.

Last week, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has also signed a sweeping new anti-terrorism legislation to counter "Terrorist Entities".

It is not yet clear how these court decisions would affect Egyptian traditional efforts to mediate peace talks or cease fires between Gaza leaders and their Israeli counterparts.

Egyptian Court Ruling on Hamas As Terrorist Group 'Shameful Taunt': Spokesman
Ahram Online
Saturday 28 Feb 2015

Spokesman of Hamas, Sami Abu Zuhri, said the court ruling that lists Hamas a terrorist organisation will not affect the group's status among the nation's people and leaders

An Egyptian court's decision to list Hamas as a terrorist organisation is a “big shame that taunts Egypt’s reputation,” a spokesman for the group said on Saturday.

Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri's comments are the first reaction by Hamas to the Cairo court Saturday ruling designating the de facto rulers of the bordering Gaza strip as a terrorist group.

“The Egyptian court decision...is shocking, critical and targets the Palestinian people and Palestinian resistance forces,” Abu Zuhri said on his official Facebook page.

“It reverses the equation, making the occupation a friend and the Palestinian people an enemy.”

It is a “desperate attempt to export Egypt’s internal crises and will not have any effect on Hamas’s standing among all the sons and leaders of the nation,” Abu Zuhri added.

The ruling by the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters on Saturday comes a month after the group's military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, was also designated a terror group by the same court.

The relationship between Egypt's authorities and Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s sister organisation in Gaza, soured after the ouster of Egyptian Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Egypt has accused Hamas of meddling into its internal affairs and supporting Islamist insurgents in Sinai.

Hamas has denied these accusations.

Egypt's cabinet declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group in December 2013, and the authorities have since charged many Brotherhood members with offences including supporting terrorism.

Online, American Helps Fuel Attacks in Egypt
New York Times
FEB. 27, 2015

Shadid King Bolsen from afar challenges Egypt’s military.

Writing from an online perch in Istanbul, he calls on Egyptians to start off-hour attacks against KFC restaurants, banks, mobile phone shops and other corporate outposts. He urges assaults on the military’s commercial interests instead of its security checkpoints.

Nonviolent protests are worse than “futile,” he says, just an opportunity “to get arrested or shot in an exercise in crowd control training for the police.”

This Internet provocateur is an American convert to Islam, Shahid King Bolsen, a college dropout who speaks only rudimentary Arabic and has barely set foot in Egypt. He has nevertheless emerged as the unlikely apostle for a distinctive blend of anti-globalization sloganeering and Islamist politics that is fueling a new wave of violence against businesses across the country.

Although the attacks have mainly hit empty banks, stores and restaurants, they have killed two Cairenes so far. On Thursday alone, six bombs set off around greater Cairo injured at least nine others, including four police officers.

A 43-year-old native of Boulder, Co., Mr. Bolsen is the latest in a series of Westerners, including the American citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, to turn up as propagandists for various forms of Islamist violence.

But what sets him apart, and helps explain the origins of his distinctive brand of anti-corporate Islamism, is his singular path, beginning with an adolescent zeal for social justice that he carried through his religious conversion. Along the way, he developed his ideas further in the solitude of a seven-year stint in prison for manslaughter in the United Arab Emirates, the result of a bizarre case involving allegations of sex for sale and an overdose of chloroform.

His popularity in Egypt despite his idiosyncratic profile is a measure of the growing frustration among many young Islamists at their apparent powerlessness after the military takeover that removed President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood more than a year and a half ago, said Mokhtar Awad, a researcher at the Center for American Progress in Washington, who, along with a colleague, Samuel Tadros of the Hudson Institute, is preparing a study of Mr. Bolsen.

“There is a desperation to express anger and hit back at the current regime that is captured by one of the slogans he has popularized — ‘Your business, our blood’ — and it is symptomatic of the level of desperation that this almost absurd figure is able to seize on that opportunity,” Mr. Awad said. “And it shows this creeping move away from aiming the violence only at the police and military side and toward civilian targets.”

Mr. Bolsen, in a telephone interview on Friday, said he had urged his followers to avoid harming civilians and never recommended the use of explosives.

“The idea is disruption without bloodshed,” Mr. Bolsen said. “I condemn the loss of life and the use of violence against people,” he said. But, he added, if a few lives are lost to help prevent needless deaths at the hands of security forces, “sometimes it is a price to be paid.”

Mr. Bolsen, who makes his living giving private English lessons, has reached his Egyptian audience entirely through Islamist websites, satellite television networks and social media. He appears on the Islamist website Qawim as the “chief analyst for the global anti-aggression campaign,” and his Facebook page has more than 56,000 followers, most of them Egyptians gathered over the last several months.

Mixing Quranic verses with fusillades against “corporate crusaders,” he argues that multinational corporations are both the real power behind the military takeover and also its greatest weak spot. “The army has occupied Egypt on behalf of multinationals and foreign investors,” he declared in a recent Facebook post.

“The revolutionaries can prove that collaboration with the coup is bad for business, ” Mr. Bolsen wrote in another, urging “rebels” to prove they can “inflict serious disruption” to corporate profits.

“It makes more sense, in my opinion, to fight against the army’s economic holdings than to fight against their security apparatus,” he has often said. “This will be much more of a blow than targeting checkpoints or police stations.”

Islamist activists leaning toward violence circulate his statements approvingly, and militant groups like the Popular Resistance Movement have cited his arguments as inspiration and justification as they have carried out dozens of small attacks on business storefronts.

The Popular Resistance Movement’s chapter in Giza claimed responsibility for the six bombings on Thursday in a statement punctuated with another one of Mr. Bolsen’s favorite hashtags, #your_interests_are_threatened. Mr. Bolsen, in turn, often approvingly cites and links to news reports of the attacks.

After vandals hit a KFC franchise last month, he said that the Vanguard Group, a mutual fund giant and a major shareholder in KFC’s parent company, might be pressured to use its influence as an institutional shareholder to help push out Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

“When you strike KFC, or any of their companies, your message goes directly to the top of the pyramid,” Mr. Bolsen wrote on Jan. 31. “If the investors who work through Vanguard alone are convinced that the coup cannot secure their capital, they easily have the power to demote Sisi from the presidency of Egypt, to washing dishes at KFC.”

Militants attacked more KFC locations the following week.

In the interview, Mr. Bolsen said he hoped to introduce ideas from the Western left into political Islam, and he said that Islamists were trapped between the alternatives of nonviolent protests favored by the Muslim Brotherhood and the kind of militant insurgency favored by jihadists.

“It is a false dichotomy to choose between nonviolence that is really one-sided violence by the security forces, or civil war,” he said.

Some Islamists who pay attention to Mr. Bolsen acknowledged his influence but questioned his wisdom.

“I’m not certain how he’s so confident he can evade prosecution as he advises people on vehicle delivery times and routes,” one Islamist said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

In online videos, he appears a gaunt, bookish figure with a pointed beard and bald head who often appears with his glasses shoved above his forehead. Mr. Bolsen was born a freckled redhead, named Shannon Morris, and baptized as a Catholic. He converted to Islam in his early 20s, and he adopted the middle name “King” after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his mother’s maiden name, Bolsen, to become Shahid King Bolsen. He studied political science at Metropolitan State University in Denver but dropped out before graduating. “I am mostly self-taught,” he said.

After a few years working as a journalist for The Rocky Mountain News, he moved with his wife and their children to Dubai to open an Internet cafe there. “Shahid went to the U.A.E. thinking this would be a utopian Islamic state,” his mother, Linda, told The National, a newspaper based in the United Arab Emirates, but he quickly soured on the consumerist culture. “He was so critical of the way people were being treated and felt so hopeless,” his mother told the newspaper. “He just wrote and wrote.”

The family’s life in Dubai came to an end three years later in a lurid scandal. Prosecutors later accused Mr. Bolsen of posting a picture of the family’s Ethiopian maid on the Internet in order to lure a German businessman, Martin Herbert Steiner, 48, with offers of sex.

They met at Mr. Bolsen’s home, and in the interview Mr. Bolsen said he had sought to convince Mr. Steiner to change his ways. “He was soliciting illicit sex with Muslim women in the United Arab Emirates, and I was trying to convince him that this was dangerous,” Mr. Bolsen said.

Mr. Steiner was drunk and tried to force himself on the maid, Mr. Bolsen said. “We fought and I unfortunately caused his death,” he said.

The cause of death was an overdose of chloroform, which Mr. Bolsen told the court he kept in the house to fight insomnia but had used to try to sedate Mr. Steiner. After the killing Mr. Bolsen stuffed the body in a suitcase, disposed of it by a desert highway, and was arrested as he tried to fly to Oman, he acknowledged.

Mr. Bolsen was initially convicted of murder and sentenced to death by an Emirati court. But after two appeals of lower court convictions, his crime was reduced to manslaughter and he was allowed to pay “compensation” to the family of the victim to win his release in 2013.

These days, he focuses much of his attention on urging sabotage against participants in an investment conference scheduled for next month, a centerpiece of President Sisi’s plans for the economy. As the conference approaches, Mr. Bolsen wrote in a recent Facebook post, “it will become more important for rebels to inflict real financial losses on the multinationals and foreign investors.”
Venezuela President Claims to Have Captured U.S. Pilot Accused of 'Recruiting Citizens to Stage a Coup'
'Pilot' with 'Latino roots' detained in Táchira, border with Colombia, in the last few days, President Nicolas Maduro claims
5 other U.S. nationals and 4 missionaries have been detained recently
All accused by Venezuelan government of 'espionage' and 'recruitment'
Comes as tensions rise between the two nations, Maduro accused the U.S. of trying to overthrow him
There has been a recent surge in anti-government protests in Caracas

20:50 EST, 28 February 2015

An 'American airplane pilot' with 'Latino roots' has been detained by Venezuela's government, accusing of spying and recruiting citizens to stage a coup, President Nicolas Maduro declared.

The President said the pilot, who has not been named, was part of a group of six U.S. nationals arrested in the state of Táchira, near the Colombian border, in the last few days.

Addressing a rally on Saturday, Maduro said the man had 'documentation' that suggested he was involved in 'espionage' and 'recruitment'.

It comes after four missionaries were questioned over alleged 'spying' after running a medical assistance campaign in the coastal town of Ocumare de la Costa.

A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Caracas said he was unable to comment, citing a lack of any official diplomatic communication with the Venezuelan government.

Maduro, Hugo Chavez's left wing successor, has waged a bitter war of words against the U.S. in recent weeks.

Last week he accused the White House - which he dubbed 'arrogant Yankees' - of trying to overthrow him. The Obama administration vehemently denied the charge.

In his latest attack, Maduro said his government will prohibit some U.S. officials from entering

Venezuela in retaliation for a similar measure by the government of President Barack Obama against a group of Venezuelan public officials.

He said U.S. tourists will also be subject to hefty visa fees - akin to those Venezuelans must pay to visit America.

The two countries have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010. Nonetheless, they have continued to exchange diplomatic staff. On Saturday, Maduro said the U.S. has far more officials in Venezuela than his socialist government has in the U.S.

'They have 100 diplomats and we have 17,' Maduro said.

In an address that all Venezuelan television and radio stations were required to carry, Maduro addressed Obama directly, saying the U.S. president has 'arrogantly' refused to engage in talks to resolve the issues between the two countries.

'I'm very sorry, Mr. President, that you have gone down this dead end,' he said.

Maduro asked that the changes regulating diplomats be implemented immediately, within the limits of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Among other things, U.S. diplomats will be required to seek approval from the Foreign Ministry for meetings they conduct here.

The news comes amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Venezuela and a surge in anti-government protests in the capital, Caracas.

He recently called on other Latin American nations to form a coalition to investigate America for 'human rights violations'.

It is not clear if the pilot is one of the six U.S. nationals arrested recently, all accused of espionage by President Nicolas Maduro.

The head of a Venezuelan evangelical organization on Friday said a group of four missionaries had been called in for questioning after participating in a medical assistance campaign in the coastal town of Ocumare de la Costa.

That pastor, Abdy Pereira, on Saturday said in a telephone interview that the four had left the country for Aruba after having been questioned for several days about alleged involvement in espionage.

Pereira said the group had been coming to Venezuela 14 years and denied they were involved in espionage.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2973954/U-S-pilot-detained-Venezuela-accused-recruiting-citizens-stage-coup.html#ixzz3T7fd5cGS
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Family of Cleveland Boy, 12, Shot Dead by Police While Brandishing a 'Fake Gun' Is Told He Was to Blame For His Own Death 
The city of Cleveland has issued a response to the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Tamir Rice
Tamir, 12, was shot dead by a police officer two seconds after arriving on the scene while he was holding a pellet gun
The call of complaint also stated that the gun was 'probably fake'
Officers on the scene also tackled Tamir's sister Tajai, 13, as she ran towards her brother's dead body and then handcuffed her
The city has said that Tamir failed 'to exercise due care to avoid injury' when he was shot by police officer Timothy Loehmann

20:59 EST, 28 February 2015

The city of Cleveland has come out against the family of a 12-year-old boy who was killed at the hands of a police officer.

Tamir Rice was shot dead by an officer just two seconds after the cop encountered the boy, who was holding a gun, playing in a park with his sister on November 22.

The initial call of complaint came from someone who told the dispatcher the gun was 'probably fake' and the gun ultimately turned out to be a non-lethal pellet gun.

His family filed a wrongful death lawsuit and now the city has responded by saying the young boy failed 'to exercise due care to avoid injury.'

The city also stated in their response, obtained by Cleveland.com, that Tamir died because of 'the conduct of individuals or entities other than Defendant.'

The Defendant is police officer Timothy Loehmann.

Also named as a plantiff in the family's suit in Tamir's sister Tajai, 14, who was tackled by an officer as she ran towards the body of her brother screaming 'my baby brother, they killed my baby brother.'

The officers then handcuffed the young girl and threw her in the back of a squad car.

At no point was Tamir given medical attention until an FBI agent on a nearby bank detail arrived, almost five minutes after the shooting.

The entire incident, from the moment police arrive on the scene to when Tajai is taken down and handcuffed to the arrival of the agent who provided first aid, was caught on video which the city was initially reluctant to release it to the public.

A police union official at the time said the officers thought the gun was real and that they didn't know Tamir, who was 5' 7" and weighed 195lbs, was so young.

Police were also not told that the call of complaint came from someone who told the dispatcher Tamir was a child and that the gun he had was 'probably fake.'

The city in their filing also claimed to have no knowledge of Loehmann's checkered pass and reports he had used excessive force numerous times in the past.

Despite the city's response, the family's attorney, Walter Madison, said on Friday; 'I do believe that a 12-year-old child died unnecessarily at the hands of Cleveland police officers and I do believe that certain officers shouldn't have been entitled to wear the uniform.'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2973970/City-Cleveland-tells-family-Tamir-Rice-blame-death-despite-fact-boy-12-holding-fake-gun-shot-dead-police-officer.html#ixzz3T7cpvdDf
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