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Embattled South African President Zuma Resigns

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 23:19

Embattled South Africa President Jacob Zuma resigned “with immediate effect” late Wednesday. Zuma, 75, was heeding orders by the ruling African National Congress (ANC), which was pressuring him to step down and bring an end to a nine-year rule plagued by scandals. During a 30-minute address to the nation, Zuma said it was “unfair” the ANC…


Zuma’s fall is tied to failed black economic emancipation in South Africa

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 22:05
Jacob Zuma – link

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa is currently on the hot seat. The battle to remove him from office has taken a new twist with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) recalling him on 13 February 2018. It is expected that as a deployee of the ANC he should comply with the recall or face removal from office through a vote in parliament where the ANC has a majority and where he has stark detractors in the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). Zuma has reportedly asked for a six months’ notice but may more likely to face the music of Parliament much sooner as suggested by decision of the ANC Caucus of 14 February 2018. The implications of his removal may be unpleasant for Zuma as he may very likely face trial on corruption charges after his ejection from the Presidency by a vote in parliament.

Several issues are in play around this political deadlock in South Africa. For some locals, Zuma is that radical who was bold enough to push for more economic freedoms and power for black South Africans. However, it is alleged now that he always intended to do this by using the Guptas, a super wealthy Indian-born South African family, as middle-men, a simply unreasonable and counterproductive approach.

What guarantees does anyone have that after taking over the South African economy, the Guptas will happily hand it over to black South Africans? Was there a written contract somewhere, or was this deal just some informal agreement decided upon over a glass of wine?

The alleged Zuma plot to hand over the economy to the Guptas “temporarily” has therefore created panic in the eyes of the black middle-class who saw the future of their now post-apartheid complaisant white bosses being threatened with economic disaster. This explains in part the lessening black support base of the ANC in urban areas. And it is exactly in his loss of support from his black support base where Zuma’s moves were most counterproductive.

In his attempts to hand over the economy to the blacks in this somewhat unusual style, Zuma opened a crack in the ANC and the white lobby has sledged hammered through it in effect sponsoring the election of the already natural successor to Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa, Current Vice President of SA, to the Presidency of the ANC. Ramaphosa has emerged as the clear favorite over his recent rival for the post Dlamini Zuma, the ex-wife of Jacob Zuma, who had earlier been promoted by Zuma.

Ramaphosa is reportedly a hardline capitalist and will more than likely be the black-face of the capitalist powers that be. So now, more than 23 years after liberating themselves from white apartheid rule, the ANC to whom the indigenous blacks gave their trust, might by its own internal divisions and the lack of discernment from its leaders, have returned the blacks to square one: white economic domination.

And how the white-controlled media of South Africa has played the situation so well!

Moreover, how does Zuma reconcile his “noble” intentions for the blacks with more than 700 counts of corruption and his attempt at encouraging nepotism within the ANC and Government? There is an argument going around among pro-Zuma supporters that Zuma’s corruption is nothing compared to the injustices committed by the whites during the apartheid and therefore that it is hypocritical that many focus on his mistakes but turn a blind eye to the gruesome acts perpetrated by the whites during the apartheid era.

While there have been some remarkable economic achievements by the ANC, it has, in more than 23 years, simply failed to develop a systematic plan to empower the blacks. It is important that the ANC should hold itself together immediately because once it collapses it might be difficult for blacks to obtain the economic power they so desire. The temptation to be corrupt and to take money from the super wealthy like the Guptas family is what will end ANC rule in South Africa. How fast ANC leaders have forgotten where they came from! The problem is how do we improve the welfare of South Africa’s black population going forward especially concerning the still white-dominated distribution of farm land. In this and many other challenges the nation faces, a solution must be found in a way that is fair and that will not harm the economy. 23 years was enough time to have methodically answered that question and applied its findings. The ANC’s time may be up.

Are Term Limits the Answer to Bitter Partisanship?

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 15:24

As the partisan divide in the House of Representatives and the Senate intensifies, is there anything that could be done to combat the intensely partisan atmosphere that has poisoned Washington over the past years? Some analysts have suggested that term limits for both branches of Congress would help not only combat the partisanship problem, but also encourage the lawmakers to work more efficiently with one another.

Under current law, both Senators and members of the House of Representatives are able to run an unlimited number of times if the people keep re-electing them. Senators have a term of six years, so that one-third of the Senate is up for reelection every two years.

The only branch of government that has a permanent term limit is the Executive branch via the 22nd amendment. The 22nd amendment, ratified in 1951, to the Constitution of the United States says:

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected as President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.

In the most recent poll taken, Congress has a net approval rating of 57 percent, with 16 percent approving while 74 percent disapprove. Public disapproval of Congress cuts both ways when it comes to poll numbers for either party. In another poll that was taken in September 2017, 57 percent disapprove the job the Democrats are doing, while 35 percent approve of the job they are doing. On the Republican side, 69 percent disapprove while 22 percent approve of the job Republicans are doing.

Instead of viewing the job of a politician as someone who is contributing to the solving of problems and the betterment of the community, many Americans now view the role as a long-term career opportunity, especially true if they come from ‘safe’ districts or states where one party has firm control.

The two longest-serving members of government have each exceeded fifty years in their service. Senator Robert Byrd has the record for longest serving member of the Senate serving 51 years as a Senator from West Virginia (1959-2010). While John Dingell is the longest serving in the House of Representatives, still there today despite being 91 year old and having first won his seat in 1955.

“It’s really the intensity of negativity that’s increased,” Pew political director of research, Carroll Dougherty said. The Pew Poll showed that 91 percent of Republicans view Democrats negatively, while 86 percent of Democrats view the Republican party negatively, with 55 percent viewing Republicans “very,” negatively. The supporters of both parties were found to have “generally” agreed with their party most of the time. That poll conducted by Pew was taken in 2016 and is the latest available when it comes to polling trends for the partisan divide.

The level of hatred on both sides is at record levels for both sides of the aisle, and some see the rise in Twitter, Facebook, and other outlets that allow users to have 24-hour access to politicians as part of the problem. Such 24-hour access and the partisan nature of commentary on social media has allowed users to demonize their opponents anonymously and without consequence. Levels of hatred can be seen on both sides of the aisle on these platforms. Coinciding with the Pew poll, 1 in 3 polled view their opponent as “less intelligent”, a finding that is reflected in the level of hatred in Facebook and Twitter debates.

“It’s really the rise of very negative views, that’s what is most apparent if you look at our trend,” Doherty continued.

Other indicators in the poll also showed that 70 percent of Democrats say that Republicans are “more closed minded” than other Americans, while 45 to 47 percent of Republicans said that Democrats, “stood for immorality, laziness and dishonesty.”

The tension these polls are reflecting can be seen in real time when viewing an argument on Facebook or Twitter, often devolving quickly from reasoned argument into name calling and insults.

The only recent time the issue of term limits have been debated seriously was during the Republican Party’s Contract with America in 1994. But the proposals for term limits were never made law. The issue is popular amongst Republicans and conservatives. The idea of term limits in Congress is, in my opinion, a good start towards reform of American institutions. However, practically, alone it would probably not end the partisan divide seen in both parties as the rise in social media and other such trends have contributed negatively to political debate in our country.

Why the Thai junta chief’s latest pop song falls flat with citizens

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 14:41

The Thai junta chief’s attempt to woo the country with a rock ballad dubbed “Diamond Heart” fell flat on Valentine’s Day as netizens panned the lyrics written by a dictator whom some would prefer to break up with. With lines like, “Did you know your smile is my happiness?” and “No matter how tired and difficult,…


How America’s social and racial generation gap impacts politics

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 13:00

By Manuel Pastor, Professor of Sociology, University of Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. California’s 1994 fight over immigration parallels the present-day U.S. AP Photo/Nick Ut The election of Donald Trump may have surprised some observers, but many Californians felt a sense of déjà vu. Just over 20 years ago, the state…


Angus the Dog Attempt to Run for Kansas Governor Rejected

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 12:54

A dog’s application to run in the Kansas gubernatorial race has been rejected, despite his owner insisting he has all the qualities necessary to be a governor. An application submitted on behalf of Angus the wire-haired Vizsla suggested the three-year-old pooch would run as a Republican, but was turned down by the Kansas Secretary of State’s…


Is Black Panther Movie’s Success Tied to Civil Rights Era?

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 12:38
40th Reunion of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California in 2006 – link

Even before it hits theaters on February 16, Black Panther is on track to be one of the biggest superhero movies ever, thanks to record levels of advance ticket sales. But as the first entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to feature a lead black superhero (he first appeared in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War), the…


Protests across Bahrain on 7th anniversary of Arab Spring

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 12:30

Dozens of Shiite protesters took to the streets of Bahrain on Wednesday to mark the seventh anniversary of an Arab Spring-inspired uprising, witnesses said, reporting clashes between demonstrators and police. Protesters, including many women, chanted anti-regime slogans and paid tribute to the “victims of repression” languishing in the Gulf state’s jails, the witnesses added. Security forces…


US intel chiefs say 2018 midterm vote vulnerable to hacking

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 12:03

US intelligence chiefs said Tuesday that Russian attempts to meddle in US politics are continuing unabated — and pose a threat to mid-term congressional elections in November. They also said North Korea’s nuclear program poses a potential “existential threat” to the United States, and that the time is nearing for Washington to respond to that danger.…


VIDEO: Panel discusses Iran’s political future after the protests

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 18:58

The Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative published a video yesterday of a panel discussion held at their Washington, DC headquarters titled “Iran’s Political Future”. Information from the event invite:

The demonstrations, which took place in more than 100 Iranian cities and towns in late December-early January, focused on poor economic conditions, Iran’s interventions abroad, and domestic political constraints. Analysts are divided over whether the Iranian system can profit from the protests to enact meaningful reforms or whether the system is too repressive and brittle to change through relatively peaceful evolution.

The Atlantic Council is generally regarded as a premier Washington, DC ‘think tank’, whatever that really means. A detailed post-event write-up of the panel discussion was made by the Atlantic Council if you don’t have time to watch. The video is about 90 minutes. Take a look:

Kenyan Lawyers Display Yellow Ribbons in Post-Vote Protest

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 18:25

Kenyan lawyers are donning yellow ribbons this week to protest what they say are violations of the rule of law in the wake of opposition leader Raila Odinga’s self-inauguration late last month. Odinga has rejected a call from Western diplomats to recognize Uhuru Kenyatta as the legitimately elected president. Some lawyers in courts could be seen…


Senators refusing to file campaign contributions electronically

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 18:18

U.S. senators continue to waste hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars each year by refusing to switch to electronically filing their campaign contributions, says a frustrated long-time Federal Election Commission official. “Almost $900,000 in unnecessary costs to the taxpayers per year!” tweeted Ellen Weintraub, a commissioner at the ‏Federal Election Commission (FEC) who has twice chaired…


Egypt arrests former anti-corruption chief Hisham Geneina

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 16:18

Egyptian police on Tuesday arrested former anti-corruption chief Hisham Geneina after he suggested that a presidential hopeful he campaigned for possessed damning material against state officials, his lawyer said. Geneina was an aide to Sami Anan, a former military chief of staff detained after the army accused him of illegally announcing his intention to stand in…


Both Parties Not Disclosing Political Facebook Ad Spending

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 16:12

Hundreds of federal political ads — including those from major players such as the Democratic National Committee and the Donald Trump 2020 campaign — are running on Facebook without adequate disclaimer language, likely violating Federal Election Commission rules, a review by ProPublica has found. An FEC opinion in December clarified that the requirement for political ads…


Local Media: South Africa’s Jacob Zuma out within 48 hours

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 16:01

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma’s ANC party has resolved to “recall” him as head of state, local media reported. The decision comes on the back of a 13-hour meeting among the party’s top officials. South African President Jacob Zuma’s own African National Congress (ANC) party decided to remove him from office as head of state in the…


Study confirms rich in firm control of American democracy

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 15:33

This article appeared on the London School of Economics site. Aristotle measured the quality of democracy by the extent to which politics constrains the economically powerful, allowing the preferences of the landless to be reflected in public policy. According to a new analysis, American democracy gets a failing grade on Aristotle’s test, while the countries of…


Increased political stress is taking its toll on America’s youth

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 15:27

By Tammy Chang, Assistant Professor, Family Medicine, University of Michigan and Melissa DeJonckheere, Research Fellow, Department of Family Medicine, University of Michigan. A 24-hour news cycle can leave young people feeling more distressed than usual. Darren Baker/ “I can’t sleep.” – A 16-year-old “It’s been extremely hard to concentrate.” – A 22-year-old “I got behind in…


On the Nigerian extradition of Cameroon’s separatist leaders

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 13:52

Is Nigeria nipping the situation in the bud or adding more firewood to the fire?

On Friday 05 January 2018, heavily armed gunmen of Nigeria’s State Security Service (SSS) stormed the Nera Hotel around 8pm and abducted the Interim President (IP) of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia (FRA) and a dozen other close collaborators. The Nigerian Government first denied any involvement in the abductions then later on accepted that the leaders were in its custody. For over three weeks these leaders were not brought before a judge. Then, as feared, they were extradited to the Cameroun authorities on 29 January 2018 to answer for the “crimes they committed against the Republic of Cameroun”.

There has been much confusion as to whether Nigeria has an extradition treaty with Cameroun. The renowned Nigerian Lawyer Femi Falana has been very clear on the matter, stating that no such treaty exists. Yet the Yaounde authorities have said that a repatriation treaty has existed between Nigeria and Cameroon since 1963. However, repatriation is not the same thing as extradition. In fact, repatriation is a desirable thing but extradition is involuntary. Deportation is equally involuntary but would still not apply in this case because the Nigerian Government would have had to justify, before a court of law, its subsequent claims that the IP and his team were organizing military training camps in Nigeria before making any such deportation.

The collaboration between Nigerian authorities and Camerounian authorities in this matter seems therefore to have been towards the direction of breaking international law on the protection of persons seeking asylum and fleeing political persecution. The Camerounian authorities have tagged the IP and his collaborators as terrorists, yet the USA has hosted these “terrorists” on several occasions and many of them have permanent residency status in the USA.

When the current President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, took power by force in 1983 he made Nigeria a safe haven for several of the 1984 Muslim coup plotters from Cameroun’s francophone northern region. However, the “democratically elected President” Buhari is today has been quick to hand over Anglophones to the Yaounde regime despite fears that they might be tortured and killed in Yaounde’s gulags.

Some historical perspective

It is necessary to always return to the background to this problem. The FRA is a yet unrecognized State proclaimed as a result of the on-going Anglophone crisis in the West African country identified as “The Republic of Cameroun” (ROC) in United Nations Resolution 1476 (XV).

For over 55 years, Anglophones who live in what is today called “the two English-speaking regions of the North West (NWR) and South West (SWR) of ROC”, regions coterminous with the former British Southern Cameroons (BSC), have protested what they have described as the systematic marginalization they are suffering at the hands of the Francophone-led Government of Yaounde headed by indigenes of the former French Cameroun that became ROC on 01 January 1960.

In 2016 the Teachers and Lawyers Trade Unions voiced their disapproval of the destruction and gradual elimination by the Francophone-led Government of ROC of what BSC had left as culture and identity from British colonial rule in terms of education and common law practice. However, from the moment these trade unions called sit-in strikes as from November 2016, the government crackdown has been deadly.

This situation has led to the multiplication and intensification of calls to boycott schools and courts and to observe a uniquely Anglophone form of peaceful protest called ‘Ghost Towns’. These calls have been observed since November 2016 culminating in the protests of 22 February 2017 and 01 October 2017 attended by more than 2 million Anglophones. The date of 01 October is that which the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) chose in April 1961 as the date on which BSC “shall have attained independence by joining” the ROC in accordance with the results of what many have termed the illegally organized plebiscite of 11 February 1961.

At that time, the protests in the Anglophone regions had led to the creation of a Governing Council. It is this Council that called the population to demonstrate on 01 October 2017 in a bid to permit it to proclaim the restoration of the independence of the former BSC to become the FRA.

Unhappy Ambazonians

After the proclamation of the restoration of independence of BSC/Ambazonia on 01 October 2017, the Governing Council transformed itself into the Interim Government of Ambazonia (IGA), Ambazonia being coterminous with the former BSC or today’s NWR and SWR of ROC. The IGA claims it has been making remarkable strides to have Ambazonia gain recognition by other countries. It has also continued to call for school and court boycott as well as Ghost Towns.

The abduction and ostensibly illegal extradition of the IP and his team has, contrary to the intention of the Yaounde regime instead added more firewood to the fire of local discontent. This bid to nip the separatist movement in the bud through a long line of several other such abduction major Anglophone leaders is backfiring.

First of all, the IGA has quickly replaced Ayuk Tabe and has continued its activities. At the same time, military operations by armed liberation movements have intensified since the abductions of the IP. The liberation movements are carrying out strikes specifically against Yaoundé’s so-called security forces who have been found to commit the most gruesome crimes against humanity in “Ambazonia” since this crisis started. The frontline separatists have now tagged the soldiers of the ROC as terrorists called “militaire camerounais”. They also now described the ROC army as the armed wing of the Government of Yaounde which they perceive more as a terrorist cabal than a government.

This sort of language and escalating action on both sides now shows that the chance for dialogue might have been missed. A civil war, for some, and a war between two countries for others, is more likely than not underway in the Cameroons. It is reported that a contingent of French soldiers has been deployed to Cameroun to quell the uprising and, the local reputation of the French in these matters is not the best. Moreover, the context is unlike in any other former French colony. The French must understand that their presence on former BSC soil will instead intensify the perception of French colonialism over a former British territory and speed up the conflict. The United Nations has the duty and responsibility to quickly put an end to the conflict that is developing in the former BSC and would do well to revisit what happened in 1961.

Questioning plans for DR Congo electronic voting scheme

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 12:46

The United States urged the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday to scrap plans to use electronic voting for the first time in elections this year, saying it risked undermining the credibility of the historic polls. After much delay, the DR Congo will hold elections on December 23 that are expected to pave the way to…


A Review of Environmental Activists Working Worldwide

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 12:41

Industrial pollution is making life difficult in Iran, adding to a long list of economic and political grievances, according to Hamid Arabzadeh, an Iranian-born environmental health expert who teaches at UCLA. Pollution is among the reasons for the protests in Iran in December and January, Arabzadeh said. The pollution “started with water resources,” he noted. “It…