Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dutch member of parliament against Turkey, for Rasmussen

Van Baalen, a member of the dutch parliament for the VVD, and head of the list for the European parliamentary elections for this party, criticized Turkey for opposing Anders Fogh Rasmussen as new secretary general of NATO.

The VVD is losing ground in the polls to Geert Wilders and Hans van Baalen apparently wants to use this issue to get some "positive attention" in the run up to the European elections.

The fact that Anders Fogh Rasmussen is now becoming a symbol of anti-muslim sentiment in Europe does not bode well for his candidacy. The longer this controversy continues the more we will see people like Hans van Baalen come out of the woodwork. I am affraid even Anders Fogh Rasmussen himself would prefer these people to stay silent.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Anders Fogh Rasmussen sacrificing Roj-TV for candidacy?

Anders Fogh Rasmussen was seen by many as the hero of free-speech because he refused to limit free speech during the cartoon controversy. But now we read in this article that he wants to take action against a kurdish radio station, not because it is supporting the PKK, but because he has to become the NATO secretary.
Danish state prosecutors have been dispatched to Ankara to have talks with Turkish officials about Roj TV and legal evidence pointing to its organic links with the PKK, a group designated as terrorist by the European Union. Turkey has long been pressing Denmark to act against Roj TV, but Danish authorities have responded slowly, saying legal aspects of the issue have been under examination.

This shows once again this man is not to be trusted at the head of the alliance. If Denmark really thought the station was a problem, they should have taken action against it long ago. Not now suddenly when Turkey can possibly block his candidacy.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Diaspora bonds

An interesting article on "New Ways to Finance Development in Sub-Saharan Africa" reads:

"A diaspora bond is a debt instrument issued by a country—or even by a sub-sovereign body or a private corporation—to raise financing from its overseas diaspora. This relatively unexploited instrument can raise investments from international migrants for economic development in the home country.

Members of the diaspora are more likely to invest in their country of origin not only for patriotic reasons, but also because their country risk perception is likely to be weaker than that of international investors.

The diaspora from India and Israel have raised $11bn and $25bn respectively in recent decades. The Philippines has announced that it will sell a diaspora bond to overseas Filipino workers this year to raise funds for development projects. Ghana has begun marketing the Golden Jubilee Savings Bond to the Ghanaian diaspora in Europe and the United States."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Anders Fogh Rasmussen the next Ruud Lubbers?

It is hard to predict what is going to happen in the coming days concerning Anders Fogh Rasmussen. I remember how Ruud Lubbers once thought he was going to be the next NATO secretary and even travelled to Washington to meet Bill Clinton. Eventually he was removed from the checkboard because Helmut Kohl did not want Ruud to have the job.

Until now most diplomats think it is inconceivable that Turkey would veto the candidacy of Anders Fogh Rasmussen. But there are no arguments that back up this idea. The theory that is circulating now is the link between the speed of EU-entry of Turkey and the acceptance of a certain candidate and the reentry of France into the military structure of the NATO.

Another theory can be that President Obama is using Anders Fogh Rasmussen to get to know his European colleagues. He can see by their reaction to this candidate, what their positions are. I am just an amateur in diplomacy, but still.

If anyone else has a good theory on why Turkey would not veto this candidate, write it below. I am very interested in how this diplomatic dance is going to be worked out.

The objection to Anders Fogh Rasmussen as a politician is his refusal to implement EU-jurisprudence on immigration, which shows that he does not understand the main goal of the EU and the important role the EU attaches to the fundamental rights of every EU citizen. On immigration and integration conservate politicians have expressed admiration for Denmark's tough, and what they would call realistic, stance. Which I suspect is a reason why these politicians, like Balkenende, Sarkozy and Berlusconi want their "friend" as NATO-secretary.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen has become the symbol of conservative politics in Europe today. Conservatism in Europe has been defined by anti-immigration and anti-muslim rhetoric which flourished under Bush's ideological sun.

To summarize all this fuss I am increasingly convinced that Anders Fogh Rasmussen is put forward by conservative European politicians to test the ideological views of the newly elected American President. A smart move.

Turkey should take this possibility into consideration and take the opportunity to test Obama's views as well. The message that will be coming out of Washington the coming days is probably going to tell us if my theory is correct.

General Kip Ward defining Africom

Reading this transcript of Africom's role in Africa clarifies clearly the problem it has. It's the same problem the development industry in general seems to have. All the support that western countries like the US and others provide is there helping undemocratically elected leaders to stay in power. Questions about US involvement in several African countries are not denied. Apparently General Ward does not see the need or is confirming the correctness of these allegations. The definition he gives of Africom's mandate at the end shows that the African people are not part of the equasion.

MR. VOLMAN:
the attacks in Somalia, the U.S. providing -- using surveillance aircraft over the Sahara to provide intelligence information to repressive governments like that in Algeria for military activities, growing involvement in Chad, in Nigeria, in Niger, in Mali, where American troops actually carried supplies to a besieged Malian government garrison, came under fire from Taureg rebels. None of them were killed, fortunately. The plane was able to safely get back to its base. The Americans are already killing people in Africa and have come very close to being killed themselves in Africa.

MR. HAMZA:
Okay, but talking about the people -- I'm willing to bet that a woman in the DRC, Eastern DRC, who's suffering, you know, repeated rapes from those rebel soldiers and government soldiers, wouldn't really mind today to have an intervention force -- and this is not what the command is doing but you know --

MS. WOODS:
That's the best example though, because what has happened? The U.S. has given those arms, has given the training to the Rwandan army, which then goes across the border to the DRC. That's the best example of you know, how the U.S. plays a role -- plays a proxy behind the scenes role both in being the number one arms exporter in the world and providing training, support, and assistance to facilitate the murderous and irresponsible deeds of armies, you know, like even in the case that you've raised here, the best example -- Rwanda.

MR. HAMZA:
General, let me ask you this -- and perhaps that will be the last question. Do you find this frustrating knowing that in your gut feeling, in your senses really, that you are convinced that this is a good thing, yet you are met with all this resistance and misconceptions and opposition? Is this frustrating for you?


GEN. WARD:
No, Hamza. It's not frustrating. I welcome the opportunity to try to clarify and dispel those things that are there. I can't go back and rewrite history. It is what it is. But as we move forward, the goal is to help the Africans create a continent that is stable so that the development that needs to occur that will benefit all of its peoples can occur. Our purpose is to assist the Africans and providing that secure environment that will then allow those things to occur. And we know that it's not done as an independent act. We know that it is done through a cooperative venture with the international community, with the nations of Africa and their organizations in ways that support their intent as well as -- and a point was made and I concur -- that are in keeping with our foreign policy objectives.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sending money to Africa by phone: FADUGU


At a conference on the impact of the economic crisis on remittances I listened to a presentation by Leah Mansara of Fadugu. This company is working on a solution to send money to Africa by mobile phone. Immediately the idea of Fadugu made me think of Ushahidi, allthough it seems to have a very different objective.

The conference in the "moneymuseum" in Utrecht was a great success. The association AfroEuro in The Hague had put together a practical program that gives an overview of all the activities that are currently taking place in the field of remittances and capacity building through diaspora organisations.

A very usefull conference to learn from other diaspora organisations in Europe about setting up creative and innovative solutions in the field of migration and development, and to meet experts in the field. For all those that were not there, you defintely missed out, as Rhonda Mims of ING Americas could have said!

If you have enough courage, try sending some money through Fadugu, if the country of your choice is listed , take a look at their website.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Anders Fogh Rasmussen denies EU citizens fundamental rights

Rasmussen said on August 27th 2008 that he didn't want to abide by EU Law on immigration: ``Denmark's immigration policy is not going to change; the voters need to know that the law holds,'' Rasmussen told voters in a speech last night in his constituency of Greve. ``We're going to the EU to change the rules.''

In other words Rasmussen is attacking the fundamental rights of every European citizen to free movement. The speech Rasmussen gave on 27th of August makes it clear he is not fit to be president of his own country, let alone be secretary general of the NATO. The reason Rasmussen does not want to implement EU-jurisprudence is that he wants to give in to xenophobia in his own country. apparently he wants to treat immigrants in Denmark as second class citizens, thus encouraging the extrem right wing parties that are strong in Denmark. The fact that he does not understand the basic principles by which the EU functions and his disrespect for immigrants by refusing migrant workers within the EU their fundamental rights, is enough reason to make sure his candidacy for secretary of the NATO ends up in the trashbin.

I cannot understand why people would ever consider him for a job involving any other member state of the EU. He is refusing EU-citizens their fundamental rights in Denmark, why should he be representing any other EU memberstate within the NATO?

Once again, Turkey should torpedo this candidacy and all the other EU-memberstates should make it unequivocly clear that Denmark cannot openly refuse to implement EU-jurisprudence and get away with it. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, by his speech on August 27th 2008 should have torpedoed any international aspiration that he might have. It's a disgrace that his name even surfaces for the position of NATO secretary general.

At this point commentators say Turkey won't use the veto, while it's affraid of the effects. But if Erdogan calculates well he should know that Rasmussen is a nobody that can easily be removed from the checkboard. Some NATO members can create a big fuss, but in the end it will possibly be advantageous for the political support of Erdogan's party at the next election.

Politicians that have surfed the wave of xenophobia that has spread across Europe over the last decade are no asset to the EU, to NATO, or to worldpeace in general, they are a liability and a disgrace.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen should be vetoed

Anders Fogh Rasmussen is president of a country in the EU that still has to learn that immigrants are not second-class citizens. I hope Turkey moves swiftly in the direction of a veto. To think that this guy can become NATO secretary in the current context shows how little US policymakers know about Europe.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen government made one of the strictes immigration laws in any country of the EU which shows that he only follows the music on the subject of immigration in stead of being a principled leader.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The U.S. Department of Energy; nuclear by nature, forever?

by Ann Garrison

On March 11, 2009, Barack Obama's Energy Secretary, Stephen Chu, announced his support for a new generation of nuclear power , but Terry Macallester, writing five days later, on March 16, 2009, in Common Dreams, warned that these new power plant designs could, by 2075, produce enough plutonium to make a million nuclear bombs, and cause nuclear anarchy.

The next day, March 17, 2009, New York Times ran Stephanie Cooke's well-reasoned, but, nevertheless curious, op-ed about Barack Obama and Steven Chu, beginning thus:

"PRESIDENT OBAMA has made clean and efficient energy a top priority, and Congress has obliged with more than $32 billion in stimulus money mostly for conservation and alternative energy technologies like wind, solar and biofuel. Sadly, the Energy Department is too weighed down by nuclear energy programs to devote itself to bringing about the revolution Mr. Obama envisions."

It seemed a bit strange, or disingenuous, of Stephanie Cooke, to suggest that Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, former head of Berkeley's Lawrence Livermore Labs, really wants to "avoid getting dragged down by the nuclear undertow," since Chu, a physicist, has openly advocated a nuclear renaissance.


Now we need an honest update on the Reliable Replacement Nuclear Warhead (RRW)

Bush's former Defense Secretary Robert Gates is now Obama's, and he has often pitched for continuing to develop the Reliable Replacement Nuclear Warhead:

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/systems/images/w88-nyt.jpg
Chu headed Lawrence Livermore Labs while it led development of the design for the Reliable Replacement Nuclear Warhead (RRW), a new strategic tactical nuclear weapon, under Bush.  The RRW would have, and still may be, the first new nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal in many years.   Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) worked on the RRW, first in competition with Livermore, and then, under the direction of Livermore, then headed by Chu, from 2006 until 2008, when Congress defunded further development, The London Guardian reported recently that RRW developers in the U.S. had simply moved to Britain's Aldermaston nuke bomb factory, to work alongside British scientists in finishing the design, with British and who knows what other, funding, quite likely slush funding.  There are quite a few very slushy funds scattered throughout the military and intelligence departments of the U.S. national security state.

It's virtually inconceivable that the U.S. could have continued development of the Reliable Replacement Nuclear Warhead without Chu's knowledge, either before or after he became Secretary of Energy, which is to say, of Nuclear Power, Weapons, and Waste, because, before becoming the top nuclear power and weapons official in the U.S., he  headed the lab overseeing the RRW design.  And he most certainly knows now, since this 02/09/2009 London Guardian exposé.    There seems, however, to be no evidence that he has made any evidence to halt the RRW's ongoing development at Aldermaston.

Chu's official statement on the RRW says that, "Under this budget, development work on the Reliable Replacement Warhead will cease," but "under this budget" sounds like a very convenient way of taking credit for Congress's vote to defund RRW's development, without acknowledging that he's overseeing its continuation, covertly, in cooperation with Britain, at Aldermaston.
Did Congress simply get fed up with funding the development of a new nuclear weapon, in hard times, or, did they decide it was a lousy, hugely  toxic, and dangerous idea, discouraging to the goal of world peace, which most of the world embraces, honestly or not?

Cooke seems either to have skipped research into Chu's background, even so recent as his 03/11/2009 embrace of next generation nuclear power. Or, she may have intended, for whatever reason, to greenwash, and apologize, for Obama and Chu's nuclear predilections, by saying that there's just no changing the U.S. Department of Energy and its nuclear DNA, no matter how one might want to.

Or, she may even have meant to encourage whatever renewables interest Obama and Chu may have, with flattery.  This might be a logical, persuasive rather than confrontational strategy, but, nevertheless, these important question still hangs:

How are Steven Chu and Barack Obama involved with the U.S.-British, Reliable Replacement Nucleaer Warhead development in Britain, now, even though this obviously began after Congress defunded the new nuclear weapon, and before George Bush left office? They essentially have to pick up where George left off, to complete it, or abandon it, as much of the world, including many of us in the U.S.A., which they would.

Do they have any intention of shutting it down, over, no doubt, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates's objections? And, who is managing and funding this nuclear weapons development now, at Britain's Aldermaston. And, to what strategic purpose?

This is serious business, designing and building the first new nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal, in years.   Not a decision that U.S. and British national security state cabals should make without public approval or oversight.


The U.S. Department of Energy, nuclear by nature?

Cooke, again, writing in the NY Times, was most certainly correct that, in the unlikely event that Chu choose to emphasize solar, wind, and other forms of renewable power over nuclear, he would have to recreate or even rename, the U.S. Energy Department, because it is and always has been, above all, the Department of Nuclear Power, Nuclear Weapons, and, Nuclear Waste; it grew out of the Atomic Energy Commission, created to oversee the creation of U.S. nuclear weapons and nuclear power infrastructure after the end of World War II.

There are more nuclear, and coal-fired, power plants in Barack Obama's Illinois than in any other state in the union; and Chicago-based http://www.exeloncorp.com/, the largest nuclear power corporation in the U.S., gave Obama's campaign over $200,000 in bundled contributions.


By convening a "panel on nuclear waste," to choose the best way to dispose of waste generated by the next generation of nuclear reactors, Obama's Energy Secretary, Steven Chu unfortunately implied that there is a "best way, " or, rather, a rational way.  But, whatever their panel's conclusion, Obama and Chu have at least promised that it will not mean the nuclear disposal of the magnificent Carrie Dann's sacred mountain.   Turning Yucca Mountain into a High Radiation Nuclear Waste Dump had been a pillar of the Global Nuclear Energy Project since its inception under Bush; Carrie, the Western Shoshone, and the rest of the Native Southwest fought to save their sacred mountain for 22 years, so this was a huge victory, even as the Navajo and other Native Americans continue to battle uranium mining leases expanded by the Energy Department under George Bush.


Is the Energy Department nuclear by nature, now and forever, amen?

Stephanie Cooke aptly said that the U.S. Department of Energy has "nuclear weapons in its DNA"; it grew out of the Atomic Energy Commission, created to manage and build atomic weapons after World War II, after the U.S. dropped the first atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and nation states raced to build and place their own weapons on the global nuclear chessboard.       

"Today, the department’s main task is managing the thousands of facilities involved in producing nuclear weapons during the cold war, and the associated cleanup of dozens of contaminated sites. Approximately two-thirds of its annual budget, which is roughly $27 billion, is spent on these activities, while only 15 percent is allocated for all energy programs, including managing the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and researching and developing new technologies."

The name of the Energy Department seems incidental to the central questions:

1)   How will we develop and  energy resources, now, to what purpose?    

2)   Will our energy resources sustain life and future generations?

With these questions in mind, however, I'll gladly agree that "the Energy Department must be relieved of duties that aren’t related to energy"---i.e., that it must be relieved of its primary task, nuclear weapons handling, which Obama's Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag has suggested moving into the equally misnamed, but, better understood, Department of Defense (DOD).


This is a good idea, a damn good, and most excellent idea. Obama's OMB Budget Director Peter Orszag should be applauded for championing such rare honesty and focus in Washington D.C. Let's do indeed pass the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile to the "Defense Department" and, finally turn the Energy Department into the Real Energy Department, and hopefully even: the Renewable, Sustainable Energy Department, mandated to build renewable energy and sustain life. Yeah Peter Orszag!!! The new Chief of the OBM is not only intelligent but rational!!! He's tacking the logical contradiction of an "Energy Department" whose primary task is management of our nuclear weapons arsenal. This is the best idea I've heard out of Team Obama yet.

We've still got these problems, Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, overseer of Lawrence Livermore Labs during the design of the Reliable Replacement Nuclear Warhead (RRW), and the covert continuation of the RRW development, at Aldermaston, but perhaps they could both, at least be moved over and locked up at DOD, with the rest of the nuclear weapons, to give Energy a chance.

Female representation in Rwandan parliament a sign of democracy?

Grace Kwinjeh, a NEC member of the MDC and the Chairperson of the Global Zimbabwe Forum now works in Kigali as a journalist and managing editor for the newtimes. Some months ago she wrote an article about women's liberation. In this article she claims that the number of women in the newly elected Rwandan parliament is a sign of democracy.

This theory is not new, it's a tempting idea for many westerners I noticed over the years. But there are also scolars that affirm the exact opposite. The report "dynamism in Islamic activism" by the Dutch scientific council shows that many dictators in Africa adopt a very western and donorfriendly strategy to make sure they keep up the support of the west but ignores the dynamics in the countries itself. It gives the appearance of democracy, but is it democracy?

The fact that this strategy exists in many African countries should caution us in jumping to conclusions about the health of democracy based only on the fact that a percentage of parliament is female.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Kagame on hardtalk: Nkunda is our guest

Laurent Nkunda defended by Paul Kagame on hardtalk, saying we should put Laurent Nkunda in context. Stephen Sackur asks him: why did you turn on Laurent Nkunda? Paul Kagame: "I didn't. Why do you hold Laurent Nkunda? No legal basis, just political reasons. As a trade-off. Nobody say it is a trade-off. Are you prepared to hand over Nkunda to face war crimes trial in Kinshasa? Paul Kagame: "I am not confining myself to Nkunda, and the way you are pushing it, it is Nkunda is the problem. We are deciding that when time comes, in the right context. Laurent Nkunda, if you will, is our guest. He has his family to visit him."

Roger Winter wants to bring about a humanitarian catastrophe?

Some years ago Roger Winter, executive director of the U.S. Committee on Refugees, spoke at a conference of the U.S. Institute for Peace, and demanded full-scale backing from the U.S. government for a war "to bring down the Khartoum government" in Sudan, adding, "even though I know it will bring about a humanitarian catastrophe." He reassured the assembled African policymakers present, however, that U.S. troops would not be involved in the effort; this would be a proxy war using Ugandan and Eritrean troops against Sudan, with U.S. weapons and logistical and training support.

This man is apparently influential in American politics, a lunatic that goes around fighting his personal vendetta's in countries around the globe. When are the American people going to draw a line in the sand???

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Economic crisis good for developing countries

Is there anybody out there that can explain why the economic crisis should have any impact on developing countries?

Because of the economic crisis in the Netherlands, the government will automatically spend less money on development cooperation while this budget is attached to the Brute National Product (BNP) as we say here.

There are allready a lot of the development aid organisations that start spreading lies about developing countries being affected by the economic crisis. Proof of the effect on Africa has yet to be brought to the table. In fact very few citizens in developing countries have money on the bank, very few work in the large companies affected. So how would the economic crisis have any impact on those countries? If anyone working in development cooperation could give us some good explanation.

What does have a negative impact on developing countries is war. Once the wars end, investment in African countries will go up. We witness that in Angola.

People in develment cooperation should listen carefully to what Shanda Tonme has to say in his article "All rock, no action" about the way money from the west is undermining democratic development.

The simplistic and arrogant view that developing countries follow suite when the western economies fall shows that those opinion leaders in the development industry do not really see the infinite opportunities that are there.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

D.R. Congo becomes D.R. Disneyland, for African children with foreign guns


Child soldiers take a ride, with foreign guns,
in D.R. Congo, the U.S. State Department's deadly
D.R. Disneyland for African children.

I just picked up news, from D.R. Congo, dated 03.13.2009:

Rwandan leader says rebels in Congo severely weakened,
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hIE4xo4TjOlj4zO-JBryCFAmpc1A

This is garbage news about an absurd new Congolese and Rwandan coalition hunting down the Rwandan Hutu refugee army in D.R. Congo. It's a new version of news manufactured by U.S. State Department, then spread by allied governments, the United Nations, and obedient news outlets, on Barack Obama's Inauguration Day, January 20th, and since.

Until January 20th, Nkunda and the CNDP were described as the "rebels" fighting the Congolese Army and MONUC, the UN Peacekeepers. Now Nkunda's under house arrest in Kigali, probably sitting by the pool. The Rwanda Hutu FDLR militia are now the "rebels," in D.R. Congo, and the CNDP are fighting alongside the Congolese Army and the UN Peacekeepers to hunt them down.

Yeah, and D.R. Congo is D.R. Disneyland, awash in guns, wielded by child soldiers. I don't mean to be cavalier about ongoing tragedy, but all this absolute garbage reported about D.R. Congo so insults that a more patient deconstruction just wastes time, and plays into the hands of the U.S. State Department, and its allies, who keep pushing all this D.R. Disney News out there.

Rwanda said it was leaving D.R. Congo, but they're still they're making way for formal Rwandan annexation, of southeastern Congo---probably the Kivus, but who knows what else? D.R. Congo's southeasternmost province, Katanga, with all its huge, dense reserves of copper, uranium, and, most of all, cobalt, is the grand prize. But multinational corporations, also own, and covet more, of all the oil, natural gas, rainforest timber, diamonds, gold, platinum, coltan, cassiterite, zinc, nobium, molybdenum, and many other minerals, in D.R. Congo, as well as the enormous hydro-power potential of the Congo River.

Rwanda's army fights in D.R. Congo to advance U.S. and allied imperial interest, controlling Congo's mineral and natural resource wealth, and the excuse is the same as ever---hunting down the FDLR, who are now "the rebels" hunted by the former "rebels," the CNDP, in the newly, U.S.-constructed, anti-rebel coalition.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sudanese rebels recruting Rwandans and Ugandans?

The website "Alliance Nationale de la Résistance du Tchad" has put on their website a couple of hours ago the news that a Rwandan source in one of the African capitals is witnessing massive recrutement of Rwandans and Ugandans to fight the governments in Tchand and Sudan.

We will see if other sources will start confirming this. It is a possibility after Al Bashir was accused by the International Tribunal in the Hague and he started kicking the NGO's out of Sudan. The US has a history of supporting rebel groups in the region. Mister Winter who worked closely with Paul Kagame before he took over power in Rwanda, is now also busy in Sudan and I think I heard him say openly that he wanted the US to support rebelgroups.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Nelson Mandela International Essay Competition 2008

The winner of the Nelson Mandela International Essay Competition 2008, On African Security and Development was announced in december 2008, J. Peter Pham wrote in his essay "Imagining the Congo Secure and Stable" The international community needs to face the reality that in some cases 'nationbreaking'is required." It's incredible that he won this contest when you read this sentence. It shows that being a Phd. or Dr. at some University doesn't prove that you know anything about the Congo.

J Peter Pham is Associate Professor of Justice Studies, Political Science,
and Africana Studies and Director of the Nelson Institute for International
and Public Affairs at James Madison University in Harrisonburg,Virginia. He is
also Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Foundation for the Defence of
Democracies in Washington, DC, and currently serves as Vice President of the
Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA).

NPB Color

"De harde kern van NPB Color bestaat uit ongeveer tien personen van allochtone afkomst, werkzaam in uiteenlopende disciplines binnen verschillende regiokorpsen."
Ik hoop dat de politiecorpsen de initiatieven, activiteiten en bijéénkomsten van deze groep ook van harte ondersteunen.

Kozo dancin to KOTAZO

Thursday, March 5, 2009

LGBT California looks to Desmond Tutu: homophobia equal to apartheid


Desmond Tutu will be with us, on 03.05.2009, when the Prop 8 gay marriage ban, is challenged in California's State Supreme Court, in San Francisco. In 2004, Tutu compared homophobia to apartheid:

South Africa's January 2006 Civil Unions Bill reinforced its December 2005 court decision legalizing same sex unions, and stirred Africans to rethink sex all over the continent.

U.S. allies Rwandan President Paul Kagame, and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, however, backed up by Reverend Rick Warren, still insist that homosexuals "do not exist" in their "purpose-driven" nations, and, that, therefore, homosexuals will not be included in their state health care systems, including their U.S.-funded HIV/AIDS prevention and care systems, which Congress funded for $15+ U.S. billions, from 2003-2008, then, refunded for $50 billion, in July 2008, but with even more "abstinence-only-till-heterosexual-married-monogamy" restrictions.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Crucial Role of Migrant Worker Rights in a Vibrant Democracy

In the context of the European parliamentary elections I would like to once again point your attention to this article on the WMD (World Movement for Democracy) website on the relationship between migrant worker rights and democratic development. It is obvious that this is linked to the European Parliamentary elections, while free movement is at the core of European integration project:

"Migrant worker rights activists, trade union activ­ists, and NGO activists from 17 countries gathered to discuss the implications of labor migration on the practice of democracy in both countries of origin and countries of destination, recognizing that ignoring migrant worker rights is a major threat to democracy. Moreover, respect for migrant worker rights and the participation of migrant workers in democratic pro­cesses in both countries of origin and destination expands democratic space and is a powerful force in economic development."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Long Island Wins

The economic storm

Martijn Aslander has some interesting ideas about economy, networking, social media. Especially in the current context of the financial crisis. Read more about his ideas in the article "The economic storm" on the Club of Amsterdam website.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The holocaust, in D.R. Congo: war for the sake of war itself

Fleeing the war waged for the sake of war itself 
for the minerals essential to manufacture of the weapons war.

by Ann  Garrison

The deadliest war in the world today is the Congo War, a.k.a., the African holocaust, or the African World War, a covert, U.S. war waged by African proxy armies, to secure Congo's unparalleled natural resources.   To secure, above all, the "geostrategic" cobalt reserves in the Katanga Copper Belt, which runs through D.R. Congo's southeastern Katanga Province and into its southeasten neighbor Zambia. 

Cobalt is essential to our military industries' ability to manufacture the modern weapons of war.   So, the Congo War, a.k.a., the African holocaust, is a war for the sake of war itself.   

Even the complicit United Nations reports that the Congo War is the most lethal war in the world today, with the highest death toll since World War II , though the UN does so primarily to fundraise for ineffective mega-UN charities like UNESCO, UNICEF, and the UNHCR.  It has never censured the United States, or any other imperial power, for arming, advising, and ultimately controlling myriad armies and militias in D.R. Congo.

Many Americans who supported Barack Obama had hoped for a de-escalation of the war, the perpetual, post-09/11 War on Terror, in Iraq, Gaza, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and even the covert U.S. war in D.R. Congo, the war for the sake of war itelf.

And many are now shocked by Obama's decision to leave 50,000 troops in Iraq, to send 17,000 more to Afghanistan, to bomb Pakistani insurgents, and, to stand behind Israel, no matter how mercilessly it bombs Gaza.   And, to hike the U.S. military budget by 4% in 2010, startling even Robert Gates, Bush's former Defense Secretary, who is, now, Barack Obama's. 

The Congo War continues, with little protest visible beyond the Internet; it moved into a new phase on Barack Obama's Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009, when new, wholly illogical military alliances emerged.   The official story advanced then and since, by the U.S. State Department, the Rwandan, Ugandan, and Congolese governments, and the UN, then regurgitated by obedient corporate news outlets, is that: 

The Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF),  instructed by U.S. military advisers, crossed into southeastern D.R. Congo to join the Congolese Army (FARDC), the UN Peacekeepers (MONUC), and the Congres National pour la defense du people (CNDP), in hunting down “Rebel General Laurent Nkunda,” the former commander of the CNDP--one of the groups now allied to hunt down both him and his career enemies, the Forces Democratique de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR).

In December 2oo8, reports were that: 

On the Ugandan border of Eastern Congo, U.S. military advisers had helped organize the Ugandan Army (UPDF) to cross into northeastern D.R. Congo to join the Congolese Army, and the UN Peacekeepers (MONUC), in hunting down the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).    In March, the Congolese government agreed to let them stay, indefinitely. 

These alliances, and these accounts of them, are so riddled with contradiction that deconstructing them would only play into the hands of those so carefully obscuring the fundamental reality of the Congo War.  How many Americans would be anything but dizzy and confused by this list of acronyms for just the best known militias and armies fighting in D.R. Congo: CNDP, FDLR, UPDF, RDF, FARDC, MONUC?    

So, let's forget the acronyms; forget all the African militias and armies fighting proxy wars for the imperial interests of the U.S. and other imperial powers.  Americans should understand, instead, why the U.S. is fighting a covert war in D.R. Congo.  


The stakes, in the Congo War, are enormously high.  They include:

1) War itself, because, again, the Congo war, is, above all, a war  for cobalt, the mineral most essential to the manufacture of modern weapons of war.

Cobalt is required to build  jet fighter bomber engines, missiles, including nuclear missiles, battleships, including our nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers,  and, virtually all modern industrially manufactured weapons of war, except perhaps biological and chemical weapons.

Cobalt is essential to the manufacture of anything requiring high grade steel.

Shocks in cobalt's supply and price, during the 1970s and early 80s, led to a
1982 Congressional Budget Office document warning that the U.S. would have to be prepared to go to war to secure cobalt reserves, so as to secure the power to manufacture for war, especially in time of war.  

2) An ongoing African holocaust, the systematic destruction of the Congolese people.

Six million have died, according to widely acknowledged sources including the International Relief Commission, and the UN. Forty-five thousand Congolese continue to die every month, with no end in sight; many die in refugee camps, of starvation and easily curable disease, and one third of these are children.

3) Barack Obama's legacy, and our legacy, as the Americans who elected him.  Will it be an ongoing African holocaust, another six million African, Congolese lives? And Africom, the expansion of the U.S. Africa Command, throughout Africa, and the further plundering of Africa's resources.

Some, including Black Agenda Report Editor Glen Ford, say that Barack Obama is "U.S. corporate empire in Black face," or that corporate America desperately needed a Black face now. This is arguable, especially given that, in 2007, Africa surpassed the U.S.-war torn Middle East as a source of U.S. oil imports.

However, though huge corporations generously filled Obama's campaign coffers, so did many everyday Americans, who also organized and rallied for Obama, with high hopes of peace and change. Many now at least seem to have a place at the table that they didn't have before.

Can they use it to call for an end to the covert war in D.R. Congo?  First, more Americans will have to find D.R. Congo on the map, even amidst the toughest times since the Depression.


Is there anything we, ordinary Americans, can do to end the war for the sake of war?

Acting to stop the Congo War is daunting indeed. I really can't imagine action at the federal level, because I simply can't imagine the national apparatus of force, the military, foreign policy, intelligence, and police agencies, acting to deconstruct themselves.

The only successful actions that I can imagine are local.  Here's a list of those which occur to me, though only, again, with "pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will." I list them to keep faith with many of my dearest friends, who believe that the election of Barack Obama, our first African American U.S. president, has indeed made all things possible:

So, to end the Congo War, the City and County of San Francisco, where I live, could, conceivably:

1) Cancel our invitation to the annual all forces military recruitment drive, best known as Fleet Week and the Blue Angels Air Show.   Despite its use of African proxy armies, the U.S. military could not sustain and expand Africom, the U.S. Africa Command, and continue to prosecute the Congo War,  without troops.

2) Implement Community Choice Renewable Energy legislation passed by the San Francisco City and County Board of Supervisors, which calls upon the city to build a clean, renewable, power infrastructure based on solar, tidal, and wind power. The Congo War, and most all the covert wars in Africa, including that in Sudan/Darfur, are wars for Africa's oil, natural gas, coal, acreage planted for bio-fuels, and uranium.


3)  Apologize for the 1961 assassination of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's first elected president, Patrice Emery Lumumba, by CIA and Belgian operatives, and call on President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress, to do so as well.  Belgium apologized, on January 17, the 40th anniversary of Lumumba's assassination; though the CIA's involvement is now widely acknowledged, it has never been acknowledged by the U.S. government, just as the U.S. covert war in D.R. Congo is not acknowledged now.  

4)  Call on Barack Obama to close the U.S. military base in Kigali, Rwanda, and end all U.S. military support to its authoritarian African puppet regimes, including those of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, and, now Congolese President Joseph Kabila.

Yes we can?