Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Septima Clark and the Role of Civil Rights Education in South Carolina and Beyond
African American woman played a prominent role in linking mass literacy to politics

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

In the aftermath of the massacre of nine African Americans at the Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) by a white racist on June 17, we must continue the examination of the legacy of the Civil Rights struggle in Charleston, South Carolina.

A previous article recounted the resistance role of the AME Church in Charleston with co-founder Denmark Vesey as his comrades being targeted by the slavocracy for plotting insurrection in 1822.

Other leading organizers in the African struggle against slavery and institutional racism were from the state of South Carolina, one of the most notable being AME Bishop Henry McNeal Turner (1834-1915), who was born in the antebellum period and rose to prominence as a soldier in the Union Army during the Civil War, a politician during Reconstruction and a proponent of Pan-Africanism during the latter years of life in late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Leading Role of Septima Clark

An often overlooked figure in the African American movement was Septima Poinsette Clark. Born on May 3, 1898 in Charleston, Clark studied education and became a teacher.

She joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) which during the early 20th century was considered a dangerous militant organization by the southern ruling class. Legalized segregation was the law of the South and many areas of the North of the United States.

In an entry published by biograpy.com, it says that “Clark qualified as a teacher, but Charleston did not hire African Americans to teach in its public schools. Instead, she became an instructor on South Carolina's Johns Island in 1916. In 1919, Clark returned to Charleston to teach at the Avery Institute. She also joined with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in trying to get the city to hire African-American teachers. By gathering signatures in favor of the change, Clark helped ensure that the effort was successful.”

Septima Poinsette married Nerie Clark in 1920 however he died of kidney failure five years later. She then relocated to Columbia, South Carolina, the capital, and continued her education career.

There she joined the local chapter of the NAACP. Clark worked consistently with the organization along with Atty. Thurgood Marshall, leading activist. In 1945 they initiated a legal case demanding equal pay for African American and white teachers. Clark later described the case as her "first effort in a social action challenging the status quo."

After winning the case her salary as a teacher increased threefold. Similar cases were filed in various states throughout the South during the 1940s.

She then went back to Charleston in 1947, securing another teaching position, and continuing her activism in the NAACP. Nonetheless, in 1956, the racist state government in South Carolina made it illegal for public employees to hold memberships in civil rights organizations. Clark, being a principled organizer and fighter in the anti-racist movement refused to resign from the NAACP and consequently was fired from her job after decades of service.

Civil Rights and Mass Education

Despite these setbacks, Clark continued her pioneering work in the Civil Rights Movement which was gaining mass support during the mid-to-late 1950s. She realized the necessity of adult literacy in the struggle for voting rights and advancement within the labor market.

After being terminated as a public school teacher in South Carolina, Clark went to work for Tennessee's Highlander Folk School, an institution that trained organizers in the labor and the Civil Rights Movements. She was not a newcomer to the Highlander School having led workshops there during breaks from teaching in South Carolina. In fact Rosa Parks, popularly known as the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” had attended workshops conducted by Clark in 1955 prior to the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott later that same year.

Clark was appointed as the director of the Highlander's Citizenship School program. This program assisted working people and farmers in learning how to instruct others in their communities in the fields of basic literacy and mathematics. As a result of these projects more people were able to register to vote, since Southern states often utilized literacy tests to exclude African Americans from the franchise.

By 1961 the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which was founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other ministers in 1957, adopted the education project. Clark soon joined the SCLC as its director of education and teaching. Under her direction, more than 800 citizenship schools were established.

Clark became the first woman to occupy a seat on the board of the SCLC. She had to deal with an organization which was male-dominated and still burdened with paternalism.

Another leading African American woman organizer Ella Baker, who had also worked with the NAACP during the 1930s and 1940s, served as the first executive director of the SCLC but left the organization after differences with its leaders. Baker convened the South-wide youth conference in April 1960 at Shaw College in Raleigh, North Carolina which led to the founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Significance of Septima Clark Today

A pioneer in mass education, Clark’s work linked adult literacy to the struggle for Civil Rights and political representation. Political education in needed desperately in 2015 as African Americans renew the struggle against racism and for self-determination along with full equality.

Since the height of the Civil Rights Movement, the ruling class has waged a campaign to reverse all the gains won during the period between the 1940s and 1970s. Today the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been stripped of its enforcement provisions while in many states affirmative action programs designed to re-correct historic disparities in education, housing, employment and women rights have been eviscerated.

In order to wage these necessary struggles workers, oppressed people and women must be organized and politically educated. A study and recognition of the lives and contributions of Septima Clark, Ella Baker, Rosa Parks and countless other African American women should be evoked.  

Septima Clark died in 1987 after publishing two autobiographies, one in 1962 entitled: “Echo in My Soul and a later one “Ready From Within” in 1987, the year of her passing. She would win recognition for her contributions in the literary field as well.

Her legacy is a well-secured within the history of the African American people and all forces fighting for an end to racism and inequality.

Sixty Years Anniversary of the Freedom Charter Amid Release of Farlam Commission Report
South Africa defeated apartheid yet the struggle continues

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Events that took place on June 25-26, 1955 in Kliptown, South Africa represented a turning point in the national liberation struggle in that apartheid-dominated state.

A meeting of several thousand known as the Congress of the People was held bringing together a broad alliance of oppressed groups. Africans, Indians, Mixed-race persons and progressive whites reiterated their determination to rid the country of institutional racism and economic exploitation.

The gathering drafted a program which would carry the struggle for forty years leading to the ascendancy of the ANC to power in 1994. Known as the Freedom Charter, the document called for a transferal of power from the white minority to the African majority through democratic rule and the nationalization of land and natural resources.

This event was held within the context of broad-based struggle against apartheid and settler-colonialism in South Africa and across the continent. In 1949 the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) drafted a “program of action” calling for mass dissent against the system of racist rule.

Later in 1952 women initiated anti-pass demonstrations which expanded into a “Defiance Campaign Against Unjust Laws.” In 1954 the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW or FSAW) was formed bridging the gaps between the African, Indian, Colored and labor movements.

The Congress of the People and the Freedom Charter emboldened the South African masses to continue their struggle for total liberation. The following year on Aug. 9, 1956, 20,000 women marched on the capital of Pretoria demanding the abolition of the dreaded pass laws and other forms of apartheid.

Fearing a more militant and organized movement paralleling other struggles taking place for independence throughout Africa, the racist regime arrested 156 leaders of the Defiance Campaign charging them with treason. A trial lasting for four years failed to win convictions, however, the repression of the state intensified.

In 1960, 69 people were gunned in Sharpeville after burning pass books outside a police station leading to the declaration of a state of emergency. By late 1961, the-then banned ANC and South African Communist Party (SACP) opened up a campaign of sabotage against governmental infrastructure.

Leaders of the revolutionary movement were driven underground with many leaving the country for neighboring states and countries abroad. It would take another three decades for the release of political prisoners and the ascendancy of the ANC to power in 1994.

South Africa Celebrates While Commission Issues Report on Marikana Massacre

This anniversary was commemorated in South Africa the same week that the Farlam Commission issued a 600-page report on the Marikana massacre of Aug. 16, 2012 illustrating the ongoing contradictions in the post-apartheid society and the role of the working class.

An article published by News24wire in South Africa reported that “The ANC commemorated 60 years of the Freedom Charter on Friday (June 26), less than 24 hours after President Jacob Zuma released the final report on the shooting at Marikana more than two years ago. The event was held at the same site where the Charter was adopted on June 26 1955 in Kliptown, Soweto.”

This same article continues saying “ANC members and supporters gathered in a white tent at Walter Sisulu Square to celebrate the anniversary with some of the party's top officials and stalwarts. President Jacob Zuma received a rousing welcome from the party faithful, most dressed in ANC T-shirts, who waved and cheered as he made his way through the tent.”

Zuma had announced the release of the Farlam Commission study the day before which criticized the role of the police in the massacre of 34 miners engaging in a work stoppage at the Lonmin Mining facilities in Marikana located in the North West Province. Additional criticism was leveled against the platinum magnate and mention was made that National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega could be subjected to a criminal investigation.

The president also cited the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), formerly the largest union in the country, for not exercising proper control of its members. Another rival labor organization, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), was challenging the NUM, an affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and ally of the ruling ANC, for dominance among workers. Since 2012, AMCU has gained a majority in the labor representation of workers at Lonmin in Marikana.

Vice-President Cyril Ramaphosa, a co-founder of the NUM and COSATU, was not held responsible at all for the incident even though his involvement in business partnerships with Lonmin during 2012 was a focus of concern during the crisis of 2012. Ramaphosa is poised to become the next president of South Africa after Zuma exhausts his second and final term in 2019.

Freedom Charter Still Relevant in 2015

Some sixty years later the goals of the Freedom Charter have still not been completely realized. Although South Africa overthrew the political rule of apartheid, the national wealth of the country largely remains in the hands of the capitalist ruling class and their allies in the imperialist states.

Lonmin, a British-based platinum firm, was at the root of the unrest in 2012. The workers were demanding decent wages, living conditions and an improvement of the environmental conditions surrounding the mining facilities.

A struggle for total liberation cannot be achieved without the construction of socialism which would seize control of the mines, factories, land and infrastructure for the benefit of the African majority. The capitalist relations of production in South Africa have stalled any widespread efforts to enhance the economic development of the country.

High unemployment, low wages and a declining national currency has prompted a nationwide debate over the proper course for the country’s future. This debate has sparked political divisions within the ANC and COSATU, although the ruling party maintains a comfortable majority within the parliament and most provincial and local governmental structures.

Nonetheless, until the rule of capital is replaced by workers and farmers control of the economy, the problems of underdevelopment, xenophobia and labor unrest will continue. Drawing on the heroic historic traditions of the South African people, the movement towards revolutionary democracy and socialism can be achieved through relentless class struggle and mass political education in conjunction with the unity and consolidation of Africa as a whole.

Note: This writer participated in a program honoring the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter which was held in Providence, Rhode Island on June 26. Azikiwe provided an analysis of the historic developments leading up to the adoption of the Freedom Charter and its continuing significance for the struggle today in South Africa and inside the United States as well.
Yemen Facing Famine as Saudi-GCC War Impacts Millions
Bombings kill more civilians while hunger and thirst spreads

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Imperialist-backed forces have maintained their relentless bombing of Yemen.

Warplanes deployed by the Saudi Arabian monarchy and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) along with their allies are continuing the United States supported war of regime-change into the fourth month.

Estimates from various sources reveal that since March 26 when the bombing of Yemen started some 2,600-4,000 people have died. Telecommunications infrastructure, airports, ports, residential areas, hospitals and power stations have been targeted. (New York Times, abna24.com)

On June 29 Press TV wrote that “Saudi military aircraft conducted attacks against a residential area in Sarwah district of Yemen’s central province of Ma'rib, situated approximately 120 kilometers (74 miles) east of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. Nine members of a family lost their lives and three others sustained injuries, the Arabic-language al-Masirah satellite television network reported.”

Continuing the same news source says “Six civilians, among them two women and three children, were also killed as Saudi warplanes struck Shibam Kawkaban district in the western Yemeni province of al-Mahwit, situated 53 kilometers (29 miles) northwest of Sanaa. Moreover, Saudi jets carried out over twenty aerial attacks against Sahar and Majz districts of Yemen’s northwestern province of Sa’ada, though there were no immediate reports of casualties and the extent of the damage inflicted.”

Just one day before on June 28, at least three people, including a child, were also killed when Saudi war planes struck the Fallah district in the northwestern province of Sa’ada.  During the early morning hours fighter jets pounded a neighborhood in Saqin district of the same province, destroying two schools.

U.S.-backed Forces Aim to Destroy Country and People

The Saudi-GCC backed fugitive and ousted President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s regime-in-exile announced in late June that there was no need to resume talks after the unsuccessful negotiations in Geneva. After delays in the talks due to the obstacles placed on the Ansurallah Movement (Houthis) representatives reaching Switzerland, the negotiations failed as a result of the obstructive posture of the western-allied forces.

Hadi took the position that if he was not reinstalled as the leader of the underdeveloped Middle Eastern state then there was no basis for the cessation of the bombing and ground offensives launched against the Ansurallah as well as civilians inside the country. The Ansurallah have taken large sections of Yemen since last year forcing Hadi to flee to the southern port city of Aden and later to Riyadh where he remains.

The war is being framed by the West and their surrogates as a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and GCC on one hand and the Islamic Republic of Iran and their allies, namely the Ansurallah, inside of Yemen. Efforts by the United Nations to reach a political settlement, as the convening of the June meeting in Geneva was designed to do, have borne no positive results.

In the aftermath of the failed talks in Geneva an Omani plane carrying Houthis delegates back to Saana from Geneva were denied the right to land since the Saudi-GCC bombers control airspace with the assistance of Washington. The plane returned to Muscat, Oman.

At present the UN while condemning periodically the airstrikes being carried out has not imposed any sanctions against the U.S. and the Saudi-GCC alliance which is attempting to bomb Yemen into submission. Despite the war being waged for months, the Ansurallah and a coalition of other forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, have largely maintained their positions on the ground.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement on June 29 decrying the attacks on one of their offices. Nonetheless, the international body acts as if it is helpless in addressing the growing humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

Reuters reported that the Secretary-General strongly objected to the imperialist-backed coalition air strike which severely damaged a UN Development Program facility, injuring a guard. The UN called for a thorough investigation into the bombing carried out in the southern strategic port city of Aden.

"The Secretary-General strongly believes that this incident only underscores the imperative that all the parties to the conflict must end the fighting and return to the negotiation table as the only possible way to achieve a durable peace in Yemen," a spokesperson for the UN told Reuters. (June 29)

Conditions of the Population Worsens

Humanitarian aid groups say that the situation is growing worse every day with shortages of food, water, medicines and other essential services. Millions of people are in need of assistance in Yemen.

First-hand accounts of civilians on the ground in Yemen have been documented by Medicine San Frontieres, MSF, (Doctors Without Borders). A June 29 statement taken by the relief organization from Jasmin Mohammed Ali, 26, who is a teacher in the primary school in Qatabah and her sister Asia Mohammed Ali, 25, provides a glimpse of their daily lives in Qatabah since the Saudi-GCC bombing began.

The statement from Ali says in part that "Because of the ongoing crisis, the school I work in is closed; it has been closed for 3 months. We only finished the 1st term and had to stop during the 2nd term. I haven’t been paid for the last month. Recently, the school (which was luckily empty at the time) was affected by the airstrikes as it is close to the central security office which was targeted; all the windows of the school were shattered into pieces.” (msf.org)

This same statement goes on noting “Water represents everything and without water there is no life. There isn’t any running water anymore in Qataba as the main water facility for the town and the surrounding villages stopped working due to a fuel shortage. We have no water in our house and cannot fill up the tanks either… Airstrikes and shelling is making us terrified and we can’t sleep well. Last night, the kids were too afraid as the shelling and fighting was very close by. We have been thinking about fleeing Qataba, but the problem is that we are 26 family members living in one house. We don’t know where to go.”

UN special envoy for Yemen issued another warning on June 24 saying that the war-ravaged nation was "one step" from widespread famine, where 31 million people are in desperate need of food, water, medicines, clothing, blankets and other basic services. The envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed of Mauritania reported to the international press in the aftermath of a briefing given to the Security Council in a closed session that the crisis would continue to worsen until a ceasefire was achieved.

The fighting is continuing to spread into Saudi Arabia where the Ansurallah and other loyalists are conducting cross-border raids that have killed and injured Riyadh’s soldiers and other security forces.

Middle East Eye stressed that “At least 44 people, civilians and troops, have now lost their lives in shelling and skirmishes along the Saudi side of the border since the campaign began. Last week, three Saudi soldiers and an Emirati were killed in the border area.” (June 28)

This war remains largely hidden from the public in the U.S. where the corporate media has deliberately ignored the massive Saudi-GCC aerial bombings and ground operations carried out by militias supported by Riyadh as well as the role of the Pentagon in engineering the crisis. The State Department claims its wants a peaceful resolution to the war but continues to rationalize Washington’s intelligence coordination and refueling of the Saudi-GCC forces.

Although many Yemeni Americans remained stranded inside the country because the administration of President Barack Obama has refused to evacuate its citizens, very little pressure has been brought to Congress or the White House by the peace, anti-war and civil rights organizations based in the U.S. Yemen represents yet another failed and deadly war initiated and expanded by successive administrations whose aim is to control the Middle East at any cost to the populations of those states.
Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Featured on Press TV World News: 'Burundi in For More Instability'
Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:12AM
presstv.ir

To watch this interview just click on the website below:
http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/06/29/417995/Burundi-African-Union-presidential-election-Abayomi-Azikiwe

Press TV has conducted an interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, an editor for the Pan-African News Wire from Detroit, to ask for his insight on the African Union (AU)’s stance toward presidential elections in Burundi.

The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: By not sending its observers, isn’t the AU putting the credibility of this vote in question from the get-go?

Azikiwe: Most definitely, and I think there’s a big controversy that’s going on, surrounding these elections not only internally but also on a regional and international level.

The AU had opposed the attempted coup that was carried out several weeks ago. They in fact have been attempting to mediate between the opposition parties and the ruling party in Burundi. However, these negotiations have failed.

Now, with the Speaker of Parliament Mr. Pie Ntavyohanyuma, who has apparently fled into exile along with the Second Vice President Gervais Rufyikiri, it indicates that there are internal problems within the government itself.

So, it would be very difficult for the AU to actually send monitors and sign off on this election when there’s so much opposition.

Press TV: So, you would say there’s still the potential of things getting worse on the ground in Burundi and after this election if things don’t go peacefully or according to plan, there is the chance of violence, breaking out again.

Azikiwe: Yes, just overnight there were three people reportedly killed in clashes with the police. The demonstrations are continuing. There’s also been attacks on voting booths and also officials of the electoral commission over the last several days.

And if the African Union refuses to send observers and with the defections of the speaker of the parliament as well as the second vice president, then this will fuel the opposition. And it will also increase the tensions inside the country. So, I think, the country is in for more unrest and instability over the next few days.
Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Featured on Press TV World News: 'US Responsible for ISIL Terrorism'
Sun Jun 28, 2015 2:41PM
presstv.ir

To watch this interview just click on the website below:
http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/06/28/417896/Tunisia-ISIL-Muslims-Sousse-US-CIA-Pentagon

Press TV has conducted an interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire in Detroit, to discuss a deadly terrorist attack in the Tunisia’s coastal city of Sousse.

The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: When we look at the situation that happened in Tunisia, that happened in Kuwait, and possibly related to the situation in France, what is it going to take in order basically to get this genie back into the bottle because what has been let out is inflicting terror now in so many parts of the world?

Azikiwe: Well this new wave of so-called Jihadist, Islamic, extremist Takfiri groups really came out of the US foreign policy in Syria as well as Iraq. They utilized these organizations, forced them into an alliance in an effort to topple the government in Damascus.

This has not been successful over the last four years but they created a lot of death, a lot of destruction and it is spreading into Iraq, it has also spread into Libya, which was already unstable because of the war four years ago and now we see it in Tunisia as well. Of course it is designed to foster greater instability throughout the Middle East and North Africa and also provide a raison d'être for the Pentagon, the US-Africa Command and other CIA and intelligence forces under the guise they have to fight this terrorism which in fact they are responsible for creating.

Press TV: It is ironic the point you have just made. You said the same terrorism that they have created and yet then the opposite is shown that this area is an area filled with extremists, filled with people who cannot live together, filled with people that are bloodthirsty when the roots are elsewhere, outside of the region.

What will it take though to actually show the truth of what is going on because there are so many people whether in your country in the United States or beyond that really believe for example in a terrorist entity like ISIL is representing Islam and we know that is the furthest thing from the truth?

Azikiwe: Well this is the goal as well in part to project this image onto Muslims all across the world and that also provides the intelligence services, the security networks for combating these elements to have a reason to continue to be funded by US taxpayers.

Tunisia is heavily dependent upon tourism. Fifteen percent of its gross domestic product derives from the tourism industry so with this happening, this is going to drive the country even further into economic difficulties.
Pan-African Journal: Special Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Sun. June 28, 2015--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
Listen to this special editiion of the Pan-African Journal hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

To hear the full broadcast just click on the website below:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/panafricanjournal/2015/06/28/pan-african-journal-special-worldwide-radio-broadcast

This program brings you our regular PANW reports with dispatches on events in South Africa in the aftermath of the release of the Farlam Commission Report on the Marikana Massacre; the ongoing response to the attacks on a tourist resort in Tunisia; fuel shortages in Egypt; and the increasing hostility towards the International Criminal Court (ICC) throughout Africa and the world due to the persecution of the Sudan government.

The second hour features an interview with Toronto Bluesologist Norman Otis Richmond on the history and contemporary significance of Black Music Month.

In the final hour we conclude our Black Music Month commemoration with two radio dramatizations from the CBS Radio Workshop of 1948 highlighting the contributions of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.
Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Sat. June 27, 2015--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
Listen to this edition of the Pan-African Journal hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

To hear the full broadcast just click on the website below:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/panafricanjournal/2015/06/27/pan-african-journal-worldwide-radio-broadcast

This broadcast presents our regular PANW reports with dispatches on the recent attacks at a tourist resort in Tunisia, the continuing unrest in the Central African state of Burundi surrounding the upcoming elections, reports on the funerals of the victims of the Charleston Massacre, and the people of South Africa commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter amid the release of the government commission's report on the Marikana Massacre of Aug. 2012.

The second hour features a radio broadcast further examining the historical and social context which led to the Charleston Massacre. In the final hour we proceed with another installment in the recognition of Black Music Month highlighting the sounds of the "Father of the Blues" W.C. Handy as well as a rare archival radio broadcast providing dramatization of his contributions.
Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor of the Pan-African News Wire, Delivers Statement to Press TV: 'Americans Should Continue Protests Against Racism'
Fri Jun 26, 2015 8:5PM
presstv.ir

To hear statements from Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, just click on the website below:
http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/06/26/417640/Americans-protests-racism-Analyst

Azikiwe said Americans should continue protests in order to stop racism in the country.

People in the United States should continue protests in order to stop racism in the country as America is a racist society, a political commentator says.

“I believe that the demonstrators have to continue. They have to get larger,” Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire, told Press TV on Friday.

He made the comments when asked whether anti-racism demonstrations are effective following the deaths of unarmed black people in the country.

The analyst also blamed President Barack Obama for not doing enough to stop violence against African-American people.

“The Obama administration needs to be more directly involved in these incidents to prevent these types of killings,” he said.

“America is a racist society. The formation of the police services in the United States took place during slavery,” Azikiwe added.

He also called on the international community to support the Black Lives Matter movement that is a call to action and a response to the anti-black racism that permeates the American society.

“People around the world should know that the United States is not the human rights paragon that they claimed to be,” he said.

“There are a lot of civil rights and human rights violations take place in the United States and that it is necessary for the international community to also join hands with the Black Lives Matter struggle in the United States and other human rights efforts so that they can be resolved,” he added.
NSA Given Go-Ahead to Resume Collecting Phone Data Records
by M. ALEX JOHNSON
nbcnews.com

The National Security Agency may have been ordered out of the phone records business, but a secret court has said it can go ahead anyway.

In a decision published Tuesday (PDF), the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court, ruled Monday night that the NSA can resume bulk phone data collection for at least five more months.

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" — "the more things change, the more they stay the same" — FISA Judge Michael Mosman wrote in saying a federal appeals court ruling rejecting a libertarian activist group's motion to end the program immediately because of a separate court's ruling.

The law allowing the NSA to hoover up millions of Americans' metadata — broad records of who called whom when and for how long — expired June 1. Congress gave the government 180 days to make the transition, during which it could continue to collect the data.

But while that change was working its way through Congress, a federal appeals court ruled that the entire surveillance program was illegal — and it issued an injunction ordering the NSA to stop immediately.

Mosman ruled Monday that the appeals court ruling didn't apply to his court — and that the appeals court was wrong, anyway, saying its "analysis rests on mischaracterizations of how this program works."

That means the NSA can resume collecting the records for the remaining five months of the transition period — unless another court steps in.

"Neither the statute nor the Constitution permits the government to subject millions of innocent people to this kind of intrusive surveillance," Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. "We intend to ask the court to prohibit the surveillance and to order the NSA to purge the records it's already collected."

And Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, a member of the Intelligence Committee, slammed the FISA court, saying in a statement: "I see no reason for the Executive Branch to restart bulk collection, even for a few months. This illegal dragnet surveillance violated Americans' rights for fourteen years without making our country any safer." 
U.S. and Cuba Reach Deal to Reopen Embassies and Reestablish Ties
By Greg Jaffe
June 30 at 8:30 PM

The United States and Cuba have reached a deal to reopen embassies and reestablish diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961, said a senior administration official.

President Obama and Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who is in Switzerland for the final round of negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, are both expected to speak about the historic breakthrough Wednesday morning.

The United States and Cuba initially announced the plan to reestablish diplomatic relations late last year. The move, which followed more than 18 months of secret negotiations, was made possible by Cuba’s accession to release a detained U.S. aid contractor.

Since then, progress toward a formal reopening of embassies has progressed slowly. In April, Obama met briefly with Cuban President Raúl Castro on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas in Panama, symbolically ending more than a half-century of official estrangement.

“Over time, it is possible for us to turn the page and develop a new relationship between our two countries,” Obama said at the April summit.

After the two shook hands, Castro said he agreed with Obama.

“We are willing to discuss everything, but we need to be patient, very patient,” the Cuban leader said.

Cuban officials visited Washington in May for a fourth round of talks on reestablishing diplomatic relations and opening embassies in their respective capitals. A big point of contention in the talks had been whether U.S. diplomats would be able to move about Cuba without seeking government permission.

Both U.S. and Cuban officials expressed hope after the May meetings that a deal was imminent. White House press secretary Josh Earnest even raised the possibility that Obama would visit Cuba during his remaining time in the White House.

The reopening of the embassy would probably clear one of the final barriers to the president realizing that goal.

The White House must notify Congress 15 days before opening the embassy. After relations were severed in 1961, U.S. officials mothballed the six-story modernist embassy. U.S. officials returned to Havana in 1977 when the two countries opened “Interests Sections” under the auspices of the Swiss government. The American compound currently has about 50 U.S. staffers.

A big break in the initial negotiations with Havana came when Obama shook Castro’s hand at the 2013 memorial service for former South African leader Nelson Mandela.

“That caught the Cubans off guard,” Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, said in an interview Monday at the Aspen Ideas Festival. “When we saw them next they said, ‘Your president treated us with respect.’ ”

Even after the embassy is reopened, it would take congressional action to end the decades-long economic embargo of the island nation. Republicans controlling Congress have vowed to keep the embargo in place.

Greg Jaffe covers the White House for The Washington Post, where he has been since March 2009.
Nigerian National Assembly: A Crisis Mismanaged? 
By Chidi Oguamanam

Expectedly, the National Assembly crisis has degenerated into mudsling among politicians, a situation now further escalated by often misleading and conflating of the issues at the heart of the crisis along ethnic and geopolitical lines. A predictable section of the press has continued to demonize Saraki and Dogara, but much of the heat appears to be on Saraki.

BY SAHARA REPORTERS, NEW YORK
JUN 29, 2015

The top hierarchy of the ruling APC is fuming and the so-called crisis in the National Assembly is to blame. Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, and Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, are both in the eye of the storm sweeping across the ruling party and the legislative arm of the government at the national level. Indeed, the two officers are not only in the eye of the storm, they are perceived to have stoked the storm. As far as APC is concerned, both leaders of the National Assembly defied the ruling party by goading their factional supporters toward a rapprochement with the opposition PDP. That strategic move, which has since put the two leaders on collision course with the APC, resulted in a lifeline of relevance for the opposition and a weakening of cohesiveness of the ruling party with implications for its legislative agenda.

Expectedly, the National Assembly crisis has degenerated into mudsling among politicians, a situation now further escalated by often misleading and conflating of the issues at the heart of the crisis along ethnic and geopolitical lines. A predictable section of the press has continued to demonize Saraki and Dogara, but much of the heat appears to be on Saraki.  A general review of the trend of criticisms includes accusation of sabotage, over-ambition, arrogance, recalcitrance, and indiscipline. Some have gone as far as accusing the newly constituted National Assembly leadership as harboring a hidden agenda; of sabotaging the change Nigerians voted for; and of engaging in treasonable conduct that requires the invocation of the full legal consequences.

Regrettably, the manner in which the APC has approached the crisis has not done much to douse the tension. Without any significant attempt at reconciliation, the APC presented its alienated National Assembly leadership the party’s list of preferred principal officers for adoption. In both arms of the National Assembly, the issue of adoption of principal officers is now a matter for continuing tension and, in the case of the House of Representatives; it led to shameful fisticuffs unbecoming of parliamentarians. As at the time of writing, the Senate has adopted a list of principal officers different from the one the ruling party proposed. For the avoidance of doubt, it is the prerogative of the APC or even the opposition party for that matter to name its principal officers in the National Assembly. That is unlike the election of the presiding officers of the National Assembly – a constitutionally recognized arm of the government – empowered to elect its presiding members across party lines. That process yielded the emergence of Saraki and Dogara even against the wishes of APC.

One can conjecture a few reasons why the APC seems to have problem with ratifying its preferred principal officers in the National Assembly. The APC’s list of preferred principal officers constitutes mainly candidates that it had originally sponsored for the National Assembly leadership. By that act, the party appears to have settled for a middle ground. As commendable as that seems, it is not clear how much the APC has invested in confidence building among all stakeholders, especially the presently alienated leadership of the National Assembly. Since the new leadership emerged, rather than embrace the reality, the APC hierarchy and factions have continued through utterances, acts, omissions and body languages to further alienate the new leadership, which it now wants to work with rivals and declared antagonists. Yet, the seeming reluctance of the new leadership of the National Assembly to embrace the opening for peace has not helped matters. Not many efforts seem to have been invested toward calming frayed nerves. There is little deliberate initiative by all factions to work toward genuine reconciliation in the interest of the nation. Rather than become an opportunity for compromise and reconciliation, the fact that the issue of adoption of principal officers is proving problematic points to APC’s management failure over the National Assembly crisis.

APC has piled everything on the heap of “party supremacy” or “party discipline”. In principle, party discipline is good for the stability of the democratic order. We do not need to look too far to make sense of that assertion. I tender the PDP as my exhibit. But party discipline is not a magic wand. It is not what you invoke and, pronto, it happens. It is like a culture that evolves through practice and experience. It is nurtured. Let the truth be told, the APC is a contraption of strange bedfellows who hurriedly came together to exploit the apparent failure of PDP.  The list of such bedfellows is open-ended. They include the old AC, ANPP, CPC, faction of APGA and the nPDP, to mention the few. Faint but worrisome signal of what is happening now in APC was discernible during the presidential campaigns. It would be unrealistic to expect that suddenly the invocation of party discipline would check every ambitious element within the constitutive factions in APC. Entrenching party discipline requires hard work, compromises, nurturing and confidence building. Where necessary, wielding the big stick may not be ruled out. The last option is only a matter of the last resort. And for a party that has yet to fully constitute the government, APC must thread softly at this crucial foundational stage. It must see the crisis in the National Assembly as a stress test it must strive to pass, rather than an ego quest of its various leaderships and factions.

Expectedly, many have sought to put the entire blame for the National Assembly crisis on the Presidency. Time and again, the Presidency has been accused of not being assertive and proactive enough on the matter. So far, the Presidency has pushed back, identifying with the position of the APC on party discipline, but cautiously expressing its reluctance to interfere with the independence of the National Assembly as a constituted arm of government. The same folks who pressure the Presidency on this matter would be first to crucify it for meddlesomeness. What many have failed to realize is the conceptual dichotomization of party leadership and the Presidency under the APC, which is in sharp contrast to the immediate past PDP administration. I predict that it is a matter of time before that arrangement undergoes it own stress test. But in the meantime, the Presidency has walked a delicate balance through the crisis and seems to have retained more credibility than the APC as a party.    

 *Law Professor University of Ottawa,  follow him on twitter @chidi_oguamanam
Ramaphosa Urgently Deployed to Lesotho
2015-06-30 06:03

Johannesburg - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has been urgently sent to Lesotho to consult with Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili following fears of more political instability in the country.

The decision was taken by President Jacob Zuma, who is the chairperson of the SADC organ on politics, defence and security co-operation, the Southern Development Community (SADC) said in a statement on Tuesday.

Ramaphosa is the SADC facilitator on Lesotho.

The decision to deploy him was taken after three opposition party leaders fled the country and the killing of former Lesotho Defence Force commander Brigadier Maarparankoe Mahao, SADC said.

Mahao was allegedly shot dead by soldiers in his home on the outskirts of Maseru on Thursday.

'Explosive security situation in Lesotho'

Zuma, in his SADC capacity, sent a ministerial organ fact finding mission to Lesotho from Friday, June 26 to Monday, June 29, to assess the latest political and security developments in the country.

"After receiving the report of the fact finding mission, President Zuma has become more concerned about the apparent explosive security situation in Lesotho," SADC said.

This informed his decision to urgently send Ramaphosa to Lesotho.

"Further, President Zuma is sending a special envoy to the chair of SADC, HE Robert Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe to share his deep concerns about the security situation in Lesotho as contained in the ministerial fact finding mission."

Zuma condemned the killing of Mahao, which he said was an unfortunate and tragic incident which undermined Lesotho's efforts towards a peaceful transition following elections in February.

He sent his condolences to the Mahao family, King Lestsie III, the government and the people of Lesotho.
Mali Calls for Calm After Jihadist Attack
TVC NEWS [BAMAKO] - Malian government appealed for calm on Monday after jihadists ransacked a town near the Ivory Coast border in the second attack in the south in less than three weeks.

TVC NEWS reliably gathered that fighters carrying an Islamist flag took control of part of the town of Fakola on Sunday, attacking security forces and damaging a number of public buildings, including the town hall and police station, according to locals.

According to a government statement posted on Facebook on Monday, the army had been deployed to the area to hunt down the jihadists, who escaped after ending their brief occupation.

"The government of the republic of Mali strongly condemns these barbaric attacks aimed at sabotaging the actions for peace and stability in
Mali," it said.

"The government... asks the population to remain calm and cooperate with the defence and security forces in their fight against terrorism."

Despite the recent signing of a peace accord between the government and a coalition of rebel groups, Mali remains deeply divided among rival armed factions and is battling an ongoing Islamist insurgency.

A local politician and residents said the attackers, who chanted verses from the Koran, were members of the jihadist militia Ansar Dine, which normally operates in Mali's northern desert.

Incursions in the south remain extremely rare, although the group was said to have been behind an ambush less than three weeks ago in the nearby town of Misseni, when jihadists killed a policeman and hoisted their flag at a military base. No deaths were reported in Sunday's
attack.

Ansar Dine took control of northern Mali in 2012 alongside other jihadist factions linked to Al-Qaeda, before being ousted by a French-led international military intervention.

- See more at: http://www.tvcnews.tv/?q=article/mali-calls-calm-after-jihadist-attack#sthash.nCyje8Hw.dpuf
Voting in Burundi 'Slow' in Several Districts
2015-06-30 07:34

Bujumbura - Burundians voted for a new parliament on Monday after a night of sporadic blasts and gunshots and weeks of violent protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza's attempt to win a third term in office.

Voting appeared slow in several districts for an election boycotted by the opposition and condemned by the international community as lacking the conditions to ensure it was fair.

"We don't see many people," one diplomat said.

The European Union, a major donor to the aid-reliant country, threatened on Monday to withhold more funds after Burundi ignored the UN and African calls for a postponement of the parliamentary vote and a presidential election on July 15.

In Washington, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said there were "woefully inadequate conditons for free and fair elections" in Burundi and said the United States was "deeply disappointed" in the decision to go ahead with the vote.

Political crisis

The government has pressed on with the election schedule despite going through its worst political crisis since an ethnically-charged civil war ended in 2005. But opponents say the president's bid to stand again violates the constitution.

Aimable Niyonkuru, 20, once a supporter of Nkurunziza's CNDD-FDD party, said he would not vote because the president had not improved the economy or delivered on other promises.

"I am really disappointed about what all politicians are doing," he said.

Dozens of people queued at a polling station in one district in the capital Bujumbura, but in areas that have seen the most unrest against the president, there was little sign of any election.

Nkurunziza, a rebel commander-turned-president who has built a powerbase mostly in rural areas with a down-to-earth style, cycled from his village in north Burundi to vote at a nearby polling station, one witness said.

Almost 140,000 people, or more than 1 percent of the population of 10 million, have fled across the country's borders, stoking concern in a region with a history of ethnic conflict, particularly in neighbouring Rwanda which saw genocide in 1994.

A presidential spokesman said voting was proceeding smoothly and African and European states could not judge the process before it was completed. He also said any further delay in the votes was "out of the question".

The president cites a court ruling saying he is permitted to run for a third term and has refused to back down. Dozens have died in the unrest since April when he said he would run again.

Blasts

Sounds of shooting and at least two explosions were heard overnight in Bujumbura. A witness reported another blast in Bujumbura's Musaga district on Monday morning.

The private Iwacu newspaper website cited police as saying two grenades exploded in Mayuyu district about 25km southeast of the capital. A police spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

A spate of such attacks in recent days has killed four people and wounded dozens.

The European Union said Burundi's decision to ignore the UN and other international demands to delay voting further was a "serious matter" and could lead to more aid being withheld.

The EU, European nations and the United States have already halted some funds, including support for the elections. European states together fund about half of Burundi's annual budget.

"The organization of legislative elections on June 29 without establishing the minimum requirements to ensure their credibility, transparency and inclusiveness, can only exacerbate the deep crisis in Burundi," the European Union said.

The African Union said on Sunday it would not send observers as it did not believe voting would be fair. The European Union also said it was withdrawing its observers.

"Not being there means they are playing the game of the radical opposition who have boycotted the process," presidential spokespersonGervais Abayeho said, adding the UN observers were still monitoring the vote.

Critics have said basic requirements for a fair poll mean ensuring the media operates freely and that the ruling party's Imbonerakure youth wing and other groups are disarmed. The CNDD-FDD dismisses charges its youths are armed.


Burundi votes in boycott-hit poll; blasts, gunfire heard

BUJUMBURA
BY CLEMENT MANIRABARUSHA

Burundians voted for a new parliament on Monday after a night of sporadic blasts and gunshots and weeks of violent protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza's attempt to win a third term in office.

Voting appeared slow in several districts for an election boycotted by the opposition and condemned by the international community as lacking the conditions to ensure it was fair.

"We don't see many people," one diplomat said.

The European Union, a major donor to the aid-reliant country, threatened on Monday to withhold more funds after Burundi ignored U.N. and African calls for a postponement of the parliamentary vote and a presidential election on July 15.

In Washington, State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said there were "woefully inadequate conditions for free and fair elections" in Burundi and said the United States was "deeply disappointed" in the decision to go ahead with the vote.

The government has pressed on with the election schedule despite going through its worst political crisis since an ethnically-charged civil war ended in 2005. But opponents say the president's bid to stand again violates the constitution.

Aimable Niyonkuru, 20, once a supporter of Nkurunziza's CNDD-FDD party, said he would not vote because the president had not improved the economy or delivered on other promises.

"I am really disappointed about what all politicians are doing," he said.

Dozens of people queued at a polling station in one district in the capital Bujumbura, but in areas that have seen the most unrest against the president, there was little sign of any election.

Nkurunziza, a rebel commander-turned-president who has built a powerbase mostly in rural areas with a down-to-earth style, cycled from his village in north Burundi to vote at a nearby polling station, one witness said.

Almost 140,000 people, or more than 1 percent of the population of 10 million, have fled across the country's borders, stoking concern in a region with a history of ethnic conflict, particularly in neighboring Rwanda which saw genocide in 1994.

A presidential spokesman said voting was proceeding smoothly and African and European states could not judge the process before it was completed. He also said any further delay in the votes was "out of the question".

The president cites a court ruling saying he is permitted to run for a third term and has refused to back down. Dozens have died in the unrest since April when he said he would run again.

BLASTS

Sounds of shooting and at least two explosions were heard overnight in Bujumbura. A witness reported another blast in Bujumbura's Musaga district on Monday morning.

The private Iwacu newspaper website cited police as saying two grenades exploded in Mayuyu district about 25 km (15 miles) southeast of the capital. A police spokesman could not be reached for comment.

A spate of such attacks in recent days has killed four people and wounded dozens.

The European Union said Burundi's decision to ignore U.N. and other international demands to delay voting further was a "serious matter" and could lead to more aid being withheld.

The EU, European nations and the United States have already halted some funds, including support for the elections. European states together fund about half of Burundi's annual budget.

"The organization of legislative elections on June 29 without establishing the minimum requirements to ensure their credibility, transparency and inclusiveness, can only exacerbate the deep crisis in Burundi," the European Union said.

The African Union said on Sunday it would not send observers as it did not believe voting would be fair. The European Union also said it was withdrawing its observers.

"Not being there means they are playing the game of the radical opposition who have boycotted the process," presidential spokesman Gervais Abayeho said, adding U.N. observers were still monitoring the vote.

Critics have said basic requirements for a fair poll mean ensuring the media operates freely and that the ruling party's Imbonerakure youth wing and other groups are disarmed. The CNDD-FDD dismisses charges its youths are armed.

(Additional reporting by Adrian Croft in Brussels and Tom Miles in Geneva; writing by Edmund Blair; editing by Andrew Roche and G Crosse)
Tunisia Sees Losses of $515 Million for Tourism This Year After Beach Attack
TUNIS | BY TAREK AMARA

A tourist reads messages left at a makeshift memorial at the beach near the Imperial Marhaba resort, which was attacked by a gunman in Sousse, Tunisia, June 29, 2015. (REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra)

Tunisia expects to lose at least $515 million this year, or about a quarter of its estimated annual tourism earnings, following last Friday's attack on a beach hotel that killed 39 people, mostly British holidaymakers.

The attack by a gunman on the Imperial Marhaba beach hotel in the popular resort town of Sousse came just months after militants attacked the Bardo museum in Tunis, killing 21 people, and delivering a blow to the country's vital tourism industry.

"The attack had a great impact on the economy, the losses will be large," Tourism Minister Salma Loumi told reporters late on Monday, giving a preliminary estimate from the Sousse attack.

The North African country earned $1.95 billion in revenues from tourism last year. The sector makes up seven percent of its gross domestic product and is a major source of foreign currency and employment for Tunisia.

Loumi said the government planned to end a visitors' tax and also to review debt relief for hotel operators as ways to help sustain the industry.

The government has said 1,000 more armed tourism police will patrol hotels and tourism sites and the army reserves will also be drafted in to beef up protection.

Authorities have arrested suspects tied to the attacker, but have given few details.

Investigators are also verifying whether the attacker, a student, Saif Rezgui, spent time training in jihadist camps in neighboring Libya. He gave few clues about his radicalisation to family and friends in his hometown.

Praised for its mostly peaceful transition to democracy after a 2011 uprising to oust autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has also struggled with the rise of fundamentalist Islamist movements which flourished in the early turmoil.

Some of those groups turned to violence and Tunisia's armed forces have been fighting occasional skirmishes with local Islamist militants near the border with Algeria.

But more than 3,000 Tunisians have also left to fight for militant Islamist groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya, and some have threatened to return to carry out attacks in their homeland.

(writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Gareth Jones)
3 Killed, 13 Injured Following a Bomb Attack in North Sinai
Ahram Online
Monday 29 Jun 2015

The dead and injured were transferred to Al Arish public hospital

Three people were killed and 13 others were injured on Monday in the North Sinai village El Kharouba, following a bomb attack on a vehicle belonging to the roads and bridges authority, as they conducted work in the area.

The dead and injured were workers from the roads and bridges authority.

The incident took placeon the road between Al Arish and Sheikh Zowaid where Al Kharouba is located.

Both the dead and injured bodies were transferred to Al Arish's public hospital while the prosecution began carrying out investigations into the incident.

Deputy-governor of North Sinai, Sameh Eissa, visited the injured people in the hospital and ordered the supply of all required medical treatments, as well as facilitating the transfer of cases requiring treatment to any other governorate.

Hundreds of police and soldiers, as well as civilians, have been killed in militant attacks in recent months, mostly in North Sinai.

Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State militant group late last year, claim most attacks against the army and police personnel in the peninsula.

Egypt's army has been fighting a decade-long militant Islamist insurgency that has increased since the ouster of Egypt's first elected president, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, in the summer of 2013 following nationwide mass protests against his rule.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/134062.aspx
Cairo Court Continues to Examine Evidence in Morsi's Qatar Espionage Trial
Ahram Online
Monday 29 Jun 2015

Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted in July 2013, faces charges of using his post as president to leak classified documents to Qatar

Cairo Criminal Court resumes on Monday the trial of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and ten others in the Qatar espionage case.

Morsi, who was ousted in July 2013, faces charges of using his post to leak classified documents to Qatar, with the help of aides and Muslim Brotherhood figures.

The court is expected to continue examining evidence and documents on Monday.

The prosecution charged Morsi and the head of his office, Ahmed Abdel-Ati, with leaking secret information on general and military intelligence, the armed forces, its armaments and other state policy secrets to harm the country's vital institutions and state security.

The two are accused of using their positions to pass the files from the presidency offices to Amin El-Serafy, a presidential secretary, who then passed the documents to his daughter Karima.

Karima then handed the documents to a third party that orchestrated a final delivery operation to the Qataris.

The rest of the defendants, who include Ahmed Afify, a documentary producer; Mohamed Kilany, a flight attendant; Ahmed Ismaiel, a teaching assistant; along with Khaled Radwan and Asmaa El-Khatib – both journalists at pro-Brotherhood TV channels – are charged with turning over copies of the classified documents to two individuals on the staff of the Qatari-based Al-Jazeera, and an unknown Qatari intelligence officer.

Three of the defendants are being tried in absentia.

Some of the defendants allegedly asked for a million dollars from the Al-Jazeera editor and the Qatari officer, in return for the information which they gave them along with an offer of more money.

Other charges include leading and joining an outlawed group – the Brotherhood – which aims at changing the regime by force, and attacking army and police posts and public property.

Morsi has been standing in four other trials.

He was recently sentenced to death on charges of murder and attempted murder during a prison break from the Wadi Natroun prison in 2011 which explains why he appears wearing the red uniform reserved for prisoners to be executed.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/134012.aspx
Cairo Court to Issue Al-Jazeera Journalists Verdict on 30 July
El-Sayed Gamal El-Din
Monday 29 Jun 2015

The journalists together with five other defendants were initially sentenced to between six and ten years in jail

Cairo Criminal Court said on Monday it would issue its verdict in the retrial of two Al-Jazeera journalists on 30 July.

The prosecution accused the journalists, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, of joining a terrorist group, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, and "spreading false news harmful to national security."

The defendants retain the right to appeal the verdict before a cassation court.

Both Fahmy and Mohamed were released on bail in February after over a year in prison. A third Al-Jazeera journalist charged in the case, Peter Greste, was deported to Australia in February.

They were initially arrested in December 2013 and sentenced to between six and ten years in jail.

Five other defendants, other than the three Al-Jazeera journalists, were also charged in this case and are also facing retrial.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/134038.aspx
Egypt's Top Prosecutor Dies From Injuries Sustained in Bomb Attack
Ahram Online
Monday 29 Jun 2015

This is the first successful assassination attempt against a state official since an upswing in violence following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013

Egypt's top prosecutor Hisham Barakat died from injuries sustained in a Cairo bomb attack on Monday, the first successful assassination attempt against a state official since an upswing in violence following the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Barakat suffered internal bleeding in the lungs and stomach and fractures to the nose and left shoulder, health ministry spokesperson Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar told Ahram Online. He was taken to the operating room at Al-Nozha hospital in Heliopolis, where he succumbed to his injuries hours after the attack.

Nine people, including two drivers and five members of the security forces, were injured when a bomb hit the prosecutor's convoy near the military academy in the upscale district of Heliopolis, Abdel-Ghaffar said. The blast damaged the fronts of nine houses and destroyed 31 vehicles, four of which were torched, a security source told state news agency MENA.

A car bomb had parked in a street near Barakat's house, through which his convoy would pass every day on his way to work, the justice ministry said. When it went off, Barakat's vehicle, along with others, were swept away and quickly caught fire.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

A judicial source said that Zakaria Abd El-Aziz has been appointed as Egypt's acting prosecutor-general following the assassination of Barakat, the Ahram Arabic news website has reported. Abd El-Aziz, who was a judge at the Cairo Court of Appeal, had served as assistant prosecutor-general since April.

Egypt's state TV has reported that a military funeral will take place for Barakat Tuesday noon in El-Moshir Tantawy Mosque in Cairo's upper class Fifth Settlement.

"Egypt has lost a great judicial figure who has shown dedication to work and commitment to the ethics of the noble judicial profession," Egypt's presidency said in a statement, describing the attack as an "act of terrorism".

The presidency also announced the cancelation of celebrations commemorating the second anniversary of the 30 June events, in which Morsi was ousted from power.

The US embassy in Cairo issued a short statement describing the incident as a "heinous terrorist attack", part of worldwide condemnation of Barakat's killing.

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi met with Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar right after the attack. El-Sisi urged the ministry to tighten security measures and find the perpetrators.

Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry mourned the loss of Barakat and renewed calls for the international community to rise up to the level of terrorist threat worldwide in order to eliminate it.

Egypt's political parties from across the political spectrum, including the ultra-conservative Salafist Nour Party and left-of-center Constitution Party, also condemned the attack and mourned the loss of Barakat. "All Egyptians should unite now to face the terrorism," said Essam Khalil, secretary general of the liberal Free Egyptians Party.

Egyptian stocks fell following the assassination of Barakat. Benchmark index, EGX30, usually drops after major militant attacks.

Earlier on Monday, the Islamic State-affiliated jihadist group Sinai Province, previously known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis before proclaiming allegiance to IS, released a video that shows their attack on judges in North Sinai's Al-Arish in May. A title at the bottom of the screen reads "Assassination of five of the tyrant's judges."

The IS-affiliated Sinai Province claimed responsibility for a number of large-scale militant attacks across Egypt, including the previous assassination attempt against a state official, which former Egypt interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim escaped unscathed in September 2013. The bomb attack on Ibrahim in Cairo left one civilian dead and 21 injured, including six policemen and a child.

Islamist militants, who have primarily targeted security forces since the removal of Morsi over the past two years, have more recently targeted several judges amid the conviction of many Morsi supporters in terror-related cases. In January, a bomb attack targeting judge Khaled Mahgoub, who is representing the general prosecution in Morsi's jailbreak trial, caused damage to the windows and walls of his house.

In March, a small bomb was left in front of the house of judge Fathi Bayoumi, who investigated the corruption charges against Mubarak-era interior minister Habib El-Adly. The words "a gift for El-Adly's acquittal" were scribbled on a wall near the attack.

Ahmed Ban, a researcher specialised in Islamist groups, told Ahram Online that the attack on Barakat's convoy was "expected”, especially within the current context of "inciting" religious preachers supporting "terrorist groups", and the previous targeting of judges and judicial figures. "All these indicators allowed us to predict a major attack against the judiciary," he said.

Barakat took over as Egypt's chief prosecutor following the reign of a "private" prosecution chosen by the Muslim Brotherhood under Morsi, Ban added, and so it is understandable that he would top a hit list.

Sixty-five-year-old Barakat was sworn in as Egypt's top prosecutor under the rule of interim president Adly Mansour in July 2013. He was due to keep his position until 2020.

Supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood accuse Egypt's judiciary of issuing politicised sentences, including against the group's supreme guide Mohamed Badie and Morsi, who also hails from the Brotherhood. Both are among dozens of the nowbanned group's members who have been sentenced to death.

After the assassination of Barakat, the Brotherhood, on the website of its now-defunct political wing the Freedom and Justice Party, said "murder is unacceptable" but added that "there is no way to stop bloodshed except by crushing the military coup and empowering the revolution”, saying only "justice can stop the violence".

Ban says the authorities should show wisdom and professionalism in keeping up with "the current challenges", and should carefully review their current strategy to combat militant groups, especially as these groups show advanced organisational and combat skills. Ban said he expects more attacks and assassination attempts targeting government figures.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/134017.aspx
Yemen Capital Sanaa Hit by Car Bomb Attack
BBC World Service

The wreckage of a car is seen at the site of a car bomb attack in the capital Sanaa on 29 June 2015.

A car bomb has exploded in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, causing an unknown number of casualties, officials say.

There are conflicting reports over who was the target of the attack.

AP says it was targeting the homes of several Shia Houthi rebel leaders, but Reuters reports that a group of mourners were hit, wounding 28 people.

Shia Houthi rebel fighters have been fighting forces loyal to Yemen's exiled President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi for several months.

Saudi-led air strikes targeting Houthi positions, which launched in March, have had a devastating impact on civilians.

In a separate development on Monday, the rebels said in a statement they had launched a Scud missile across the border at a Saudi military base "in response to the crimes of the brutal Saudi aggression".

If confirmed, it would be the second such attack since fighting began.
An attempt to send a Scud missile earlier this month was intercepted and shot down by Saudi Arabia before causing any damage.

Yemeni civilians have bore the brunt of the fighting and air strikes in recent months
Monday's attack took place behind a military hospital in Sanaa.

The AP news agency quoted officials close to the Houthi rebels, who said the blast targeted the homes of several Houthi leaders.

But Reuters quoted a medical official who said the blast "injured 28 people including 12 women in a building where victims of a previous attack were being mourned".

The Islamic State (IS) militant group has reportedly posted a statement online saying its affiliate group based in Sanaa was behind the attack. IS has carried out a number of attacks in the capital in recent weeks.

Separately on Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for a full investigation after a Saudi-led coalition air strike hit a UN compound in the southern city of Aden on Sunday, injuring one guard.

Yemen has been in turmoil since Houthi rebels overran Sanaa last September, forcing the government of President Mansour Abdrabbuh Hadi to flee.

Three months ago, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia began targeting the rebels with air strikes. Since then, more than 2,000 people have been killed in the conflict, including at least 1,400 civilians, according to the UN.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Supreme Court Upholds Lethal Injection Procedure
By Robert Barnes
June 29 at 11:25 AM

A divided Supreme Court on Monday turned aside claims by death-row inmates that a drug to be used in their executions would lead to an unconstitutional level of suffering, a narrow but unequivocal ruling that made clear that states have leeway in carrying out the death penalty.

The justices ruled 5 to 4 against inmates in Oklahoma, who alleged that the use of a sedative called midazolam has resulted in troubling executions that violate the Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Executions in Oklahoma and elsewhere have generated national headlines about inmates writhing in pain or taking hours to die when the drug was involved.

The relatively limited issue in Glossip v. Gross gave way to a broader dispute among the court’s nine members, one that reflects the debate in society: Can the ultimate punishment for the most horrendous acts be equitably and humanely applied and confined to the truly guilty?

Two justices who have been on the Supreme Court bench for decades wrote a long dissent saying it was time for the court to take another look at whether the death penalty could ever be carried out in accordance with the Constitution.

“I believe it highly likely that the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “At the very least, the court should call for full briefing on the basic question.”

Two other justices with even longer tenures dismissed Breyer’s 41 pages of argument and five pages of charts and maps as “gobbledy-gook.” Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, said the Constitution leaves to the people the decision of whether there should be capital punishment.

“By arrogating to himself the power to overturn that decision, Justice Breyer does not just reject the death penalty, he rejects the Enlightenment,” Scalia wrote.

The lethal-injection decision and two others were the final rulings in cases the court considered this term. As is often the case at the end, there were signs of raw nerves. Thomas and Scalia, in dissents and comments from the bench in unrelated cases, both spoke ruefully of last week’s landmark decision recognizing a constitutional right for gay couples to marry.

In the death penalty case, four justices summarized their views from the bench, a sign of the importance it carried for them and the vehemence of their disagreement.

In rejecting the challenge to midazolam, the majority opinion was somewhat dry and straightforward.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the majority that the death row inmates’ challenge failed because they did not meet their burden of identifying a “known and available alternative method of execution” that would carry a lesser risk of pain. He said that was required under the court’s previous ruling upholding lethal injection.

Additionally, he said that the plaintiffs had not proven that a massive dose of midazolam “entails a substantial risk of severe pain.”

Alito was joined in the opinion by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, as well as Scalia and Thomas.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a scathing dissent. She said the court’s determination that midazolam does not cause an intolerable risk of severe pain “is factually wrong.” She said the court’s conclusion that the prisoners must identify an “available alternative means by which the state may kill them is legally indefensible.”

“Petitioners contend that Oklahoma’s current protocol is a barbarous method of punishment — the chemical equivalent of being burned alive,” she wrote. “But under the court’s new rule, it would not matter whether the state intended to use midazolam, or instead to have petitioners drawn and quartered, slowly tortured to death, or actually burned at the stake.”

Alito’s response to that was the most emotional part of his opinion. The dissent’s “resort to this outlandish rhetoric reveals the weakness of its legal arguments,” he concluded.

Dale Baich, one of the attorneys for the death-row prisoners, said in a statement: “Because the court declined to require that states follow scientific guidelines in determining their lethal injection procedures, states will be allowed to conduct additional human experimentation when they carry out executions by lethal injection.”

Douglas Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University and an expert on criminal sentencing, said the decision was a “big win” for states trying to carry out executions. (A dwindling number of states carry out the death penalty.)

And he found it significant that only two justices called for another look at the constitutionality of the death penalty. “Seven current justices apparently do not question the death penalty’s essential constitutionality, including the five youngest justices,” Berman said in a statement. That “suggests to me that abolitionists still have a lot more work to do.”

Breyer made the case for starting that conversation with his lengthy dissent.

He noted that for nine years, the court did not allow executions. “In 1976, the court thought that the constitutional infirmities in the death penalty could be healed,” Breyer wrote, adding, “Almost 40 years of studies, surveys and experience strongly indicate, however, that this effort has failed.”

He said there were three fundamental defects: “serious unreliability, arbitrariness in application and unconscionably long delays that undermine the death penalty’s penological purpose.”

As a result, he said, 30 states have either abolished the death penalty or have not carried out an execution in eight years. Only about a third of the country’s residents live in states where executions occur at least occasionally.

Scalia said the ills that Breyer described are the results of “abolitionists” who contest every death sentence beyond reason. He said Breyer’s “invocation of the resultant delay as grounds for abolishing the death penalty calls to mind the man sentenced to death for killing his parents, who pleads for mercy on the ground that he is an orphan.”

The justices were revisiting the issue of lethal injection for the first time since 2008, when they upheld a three-drug combination and said it did not violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. At the time, these drugs were used across the country.

But an ongoing shortage of lethal injection drugs, arising largely from European objections to capital punishment, has stopped the production of those drugs and caused states to find new ones, create different protocols and seek other methods.

When Oklahoma officials could no longer obtain the drug they used, they turned to midazolam. It was used in three problematic executions last year, turning the drug into a focal point for debates about lethal injections.

The most high-profile of these was Oklahoma’s bungled attempt to execute convicted murderer Clayton Lockett. He kicked, grimaced and survived for 43 minutes after the execution began. He eventually died after officials had already halted the process, and a state investigation blamed the error on the manner in which the execution team inserted the needle.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) released a statement Monday saying the ruling “upholds the letter and the spirit of the law as it is written.” Authorities in that state vowed to resume executions, which have been on hold since the court agreed to hear this case in January.

The three surviving inmates named in the case were convicted of murder and sentenced to death, while the fourth was executed in January, shortly before the justices took the case.

In its court filings, Oklahoma laid out the crimes for which each man was convicted: Richard Glossip hired someone to kill his employer; John Grant stabbed a prison food service supervisor while in jail; and Benjamin Cole snapped his 9-month-old daughter’s spine.

In addition to Oklahoma, the attorneys general in Florida and Alabama said that they also believed their paths were cleared to resume executions.

Experts said Monday that they had not heard so far of states scrambling to adopt midazolam, which even before the questionable executions was not used widely by states.

“This is a narrow decision involving one drug in one state,” said Deborah W. Denno, a law professor at Fordham University in New York, who has been critical of the lethal injection process. The ruling involves “a drug that’s used in a handful of states, and hasn’t been used all that much,” she said. “Is it going to increase? It’s unclear.”


Midazolam was also used last year in the execution of an Arizona inmate who gasped and snorted and took nearly two hours to die, as well as the lethal injection of an Ohio inmate who gasped and choked for nearly half an hour before dying.

Sandhya Somashekhar and Mark Berman contributed to this report.
Unifying the Alliance: ANC, SACP, COSATU in 3-day Meeting
Sunday 28 June 2015 - 7:28am

PRETORIA - The tripartite alliance summit continues in Pretoria on Sunday.

Forging unity in the alliance and in particular Cosatu took centre stage at the group's meeting yesterday.

The summit is closed to the media, but sources confirm that up for discussion will be:

·    Inherent organisational weaknesses driven by factionalism

·    Corruption and self-enrichment among members

·    Complacency in government and not working for the betterment of society

It's also apparent that central to the unity of the alliance will be harmony within Cosatu.

The labour federation has been beset by infighting, manifested in the expulsion of General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and  Numsa.

“We are dealing with constructive criticism here and Cosatu is the very first organisation to agree up front that we are faced with challenges," said Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini.

"And we are coming to our allies to listen to how they see us and to listen how we are going to be helping each other to strengthen Cosatu – but also to strengthen the allies themselves.

"Because we need each other – allies need one another – we can’t do without one another.”

"Sorry for having supported Zuma"

Meanwhile, The SACP has been at pains to reject a story that party regions have turned their backs on President Jacob Zuma.

The Mail & Guardian on Friday reported the party was sorry for supporting him at the ANC’s elective conference in 2007.

The allegations are said to be contained in a discussion document, released before the party’s special congress.

But the SACP slammed the newspaper report, ahead of this weekend's special summit.

“We must make sure that we deepen our unity and expose all those forces that are trying to cause division within the alliance," said SACP General Secretary, Blade Nzimande.

- eNCA