Sunday, August 30, 2009

World's third most influential Arab to go free


Iraqi journalist and poet/shoethrower Muntadar Al Zaidi, the world's third most influential Arab, according ArabianBusiness.com, on its 2009 Power 100 List.

by Ann Garrison

Arabian business.com has named Iraqi journalist Muntadar Al-Zaidi the world's third most influential Arab on its Power 100 list for 2009, because:

"Long before he threw a shoe at George Bush, Muntadar Al Zaidi already had a colorful past. An Iraqi journalist who served as a correspondent for the Iraq-owned, Egyptian-based station Al Baghdadia TV, Al Zaidi’s reports often focused on the plight of widows, orphans, and children in the US-led Iraq invasion."


Al Zaidi made history, on December 14, 2008, during Bush's final press conference in Baghdad:




"This is the farewell, kiss, you dog! This is from the
widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!
"


Journalist, Central America correspondent, and poet John Ross rightly asked, writing in Counterpunch on December 24, 2008 Where is Al Zaidi's Pulitzer?

Al-Zaidi still awaits the prize he so deserves, but, two days ago, on August 28th, 2009, Iraqi authorities announced that he will be released next month, in September, before fulfilling his entire one year sentence,"for good behavior," though it's difficult to believe that literary, artistic, anti-war, and anti-imperial adulation of Mr. Al Zaidi, all over the world, and, his newfound status as the world's third most influential Arab on Arabianbusiness.com's Power 100 list didn't help.

In January 2009, orphaned children in the Iraqi city of Tirkut helped Iraqi Iraqi artist Laith al-Amari erect a six-foot copper and fibreglass monument of a shoe like the ones that Al Zaidi hurled at Bush. Both the children and adult citizens of Tirkut celebrated the shoe monument's unveiling, on January 29, 2009, as cameras whirled and transmitted images all over the world.

Iraq's puppet central government ordered it taken down and destroyed the next day, but the images live.

I was unable to find any shots of the monument's destruction, so here's hoping someone managed to save it, perhaps in an underground tunnel or Tirkut basement, for display, someday, in the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad, which finally reopened in February 2009, with $14 million U.S. dollars---after being bombed, looted, gutted, and finally bolted during the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The big shoe belongs in the Iraq National Museum as much as the Mona Lisa belongs in the Louvre:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Privatizing California


by Ann Garrison

On Sunday, August 23rd, 2009, the KPFA Weekend News produced a report on California State Senate Bill 792. It included the voice of San Francisco's 3rd District State Senator Mark Leno, the bill's author and advocate, and my own, as a San Francisco writer and activist opposed to privatizing any California state parkland.

I could not be more opposed to the sale of Candlestick Point State Recreation Area, to Lennar or any other corporation, or to the precedent it would set. Nor could I be more opposed to the privatization of state prisons, health and human services, or coastal waters at Tranquillon Ridge, off the Coast of Santa Barbara, so coveted by oil and gas drillers.

I oppose all these ridiculous proposals to privatize the whole State of California, in response to the State budget crisis. Eager corporate buyers, and many politicians, including most of all, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, are using the state budget crisis to push “structural readjustment,” like that which the IMF and World Bank impose on debt strangled Africa, with relentless pressure to privatize every acre of land, and every other natural resource, including even fresh water, because, as the IMF and World Bank argue, Africa---(now, like California)---just can't afford to own any of its own parks, wildlife preserves, or natural resources anymore.

In their fight against the push to privatize their state park, Bayview Hunters Point activists are fighting the privatization of California as hard as anyone I know, for all of us, so I hope that other Californians who don't want to see the whole State on the auction block will contact their Assembly reps and ask them to vote against S.B 792. Anyone can obtain contact info for their California Assembly Representative by typing their zip code in on the CA State website, Know Your Legislature.

I protested to KPFA Weekend News Producer Anthony Fest as soon as I heard Sunday's broadcast because, by saying that he is "working with the Sierra Club and ARC Ecology" on amending his legislation, Senator Leno had---intentionally or not---given listeners the false impression that the Sierra Club and ARC Ecology support privatization, though both organizations were on the long list of coalition members opposing it, and I had submitted that list to KPFA News. That list also includes: the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, the Audubon Society, People Organized to Win Employment Rights (P.O.W.E.R.), the California Native Plant Society, the Chinese Progressive Association, the Labor/Community Strategy Center in Los Angeles, Caravan for Justice, the Idriss Stelley Foundation, the San Francisco Green Party, Stop Lennar Action Movement (SLAM), and many others.

ARC Ecology Director Saul Bloom told me, the next day, on August 24, 2009, that:

1) He had, as of August 24, 2009, not yet seen an amended version of the bill,

2) He still opposes it,

3) ARC and the Sierra Club both oppose any privatization of state parkland,

4) They would, at most, take a neutral stance, on an amended S.B. 792, with boundaries to preserve as much parkland, tideland, and native habitat as possible.

Since the KPFA Weekend News broadcast, San Francisco's 12th District Assembly Member Fiona Ma has emerged as S.B. 792's advocate, opposing San Francisco's 13th District Assembly Member Tom Ammiano, who voted no, and spoke adamantly against the bill before it passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, on a 9 to 2 vote. San Francisco's other State Senator, 8th District State Senator Leland Yee, also voted and argued against the bill before it passed out of the State Senate on June 2nd. San Francisco Supervisors John Avalos and Chris Daly have proposed a resolution, in the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, that would instruct the City's Sacramento lobbyist, Lynn Suter, to argue against the bill.

Here's an audio clip of the KPFA news segment downloaded from the KPFA website and posted to the Youtube.



And, here is ARC Ecology Director Saul Bloom, in his own words, on the day following the broadcast:

"We have not seen any amended version of the bill yet and until we do, we oppose the bill. And, it should be clear, in no uncertain terms, that the Sierra Club and ARC Ecology will at most be neutral on this bill. We do not support the sale of any state parkland, especially not Candlestick. Public parks are for future generations."

And, a note from Sierra Club trustee John Rizzo, which he sent to me on August 16, 2009, before heading off, on vacation, to Lassen State Park, and, which he confirmed, as still true, upon his return, on August 24th:

"The Sierra Club has not backed the compromise. I can tell you categorically that the Sierra Club will not Support SB 792. At most, it would drop opposition. But it will not support a bill that sells of state park land for development.

The Sierra Club at one time was the only opponent of SB 792 in Sacramento. For a time, we were the only official opponent listed, and were the only group walking the halls. Fortunately, that has changed.


Leno asked Michael Cohen to negotiate with us. What Lennar has most recently put on table is scaling back the land grab of the state park from 42 acres to 22 acres. I personally am not supporting this.


At most, the Sierra Club would drop its opposition. But it will not support a bill that sells off state parkland for development. Personally, I don't believe the current Lennar proposal warrants dropping opposition."


On Thursday, August 27, 2009, KPFA broadcast this clarification:




So, what happens if the State closes a state park?


State Senator Mark Leno argues that we have to privatize the Candlestick Point State Recreation Area because we can't afford to keep it open or keep it up, but ARC Ecology's Saul Bloom points out that closing a state park is not like closing a school. Closing a state park means closing the parking lot and the restrooms. It doesn't mean that the park no longer exists, or that people can't go hike, picnic, or even volunteer to take care of the park themselves anymore.


And, what happens if the State privatizes a state park?


If the State privatizes our Candlestick Point park, then, as budget crises worsen, at every level, what's next? What's to stop the privatization of every park in California? The federal government has, since the Reagan era, championed the privatization of everything from prisons to HUD foreclosure counseling, so, if California joins the rush to privatize, how long will it be before we're told we have to put up with a coal-fired power plant generating electricity for a uranium mining operation in Death Valley National Monument, just like those in Saharan Niger, because, otherwise, we just can't afford the park anymore???

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Will Olala Otunnu be the next president of Uganda?

As widely reported, Olala Otunnu returned to Kampala this week and will take the lead of the largest opposition party in Uganda, UPC. On arrival Olala Otunnu was received by traditional chiefs. Olala Otunnu denounced the illegal invasion of the DRC by Ugandan troops. He was also received by the widow of Obote.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Is Social Justice Just Ice?

Marvin Olasky in his column "Is Social Justice Just Ice" at the conservative website townhall.com shows once again his bias against US President Barack Obama. He uses a lot citations from the Bible to say that social justice in the Bible is relational.
He off course means that social justice is not done by the government. He is against big government and has to prove his point by using some texts from the Bible. He resembles someone that goes into wallmart and selectively takes what he himself likes.

Many theologians over the last two centuries have struggled with the question of social justice and theology. Marvin Olasky does all of us a disservice by ignoring the whole debate and just jumping in like an elephant destroying all the porcelain.

What do you think of Google Wave?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

"What Would Google Do?" in Rwanda


The J-School at the City University of New York, where Jeff Jarvis is the director of the interactive program, has named

"Charles Kabonero, a Rwandan newspaper editor who recently fled his country to escape constant harassment, criminal charges, and threats to his security, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s International Journalist in Residence for the 2009-2010 academic year."

Charles Kabonero is one of many Rwandan journalists that have been affected by the decision of the Rwandan regime in 2008 to suspend all private owned media. Charles Kabonero was (is?) the director of the weekly Umuseso.

The Rwandan High Media Council took the decision on 5 August to ask the information ministry to close the independent weekly Umuseso for three months for likening the current government to the one that was in power in the run-up to the 1994 genocide.

I am sure Jeff Jarvis and Charles Kabonero can work out some great "NewsInnovation" at the J-School. Allthough Umuseso's troubles in Rwanda are of a very different nature from that which The New York Times faces, Jeff Jarvis would probably still start by asking "What Would Google Do?"

Friday, August 14, 2009

Did Kagame's death squad kill Danny NDAHIRO?

Paul Kagame, or Paul for his Ugandan rebel buddy Musiha Muntu, is being accused by UWATUMARA Claire (They apparently like capital letters in Rwanda) of a whole list of crimes.

UWATUMARA Claire is seeking asylum in Malawi because her husband was assasinated beginning of july 2009, according to her story. Let's see if The New Times will write about this story.

A very lively debate has started online on the actual existence of Danny NDAHIRO.
A journalist, Amiel Nkuliza, has confirmed his existence and a large part of her testimony.

Another Rwandan dude from Belgium is blogging about it too.

Sharangabo Rufagari, who on this website never substantiated his slanderous accusations against Robert Krueger, thinks off course that Danny NDAHIRO doesn't exist. Very convincing, and off course he knows all the RPF soldiers.

A white man named Richard is also mentioned, which could be Richard Haavisto.

FREE AHMED ISSA

The process of the Dutch prosecutor against Ahmed Issa has made it clear that the Dutch government is decided to put the blame of the fire 26 oktober 2005 in the Schiphol detention center for immigrants on one man, Ahmed Issa.



Survivors, family of the victims on the other hand want the government to accept full responsability for the fact that they built those detention centers without respecting security regulations. The highest court in the Netherlands has blocked the persecution of former justice minister Piet Hein Donner. Off course, he is a good friend. You don't persecute a good friend right. It is clear for an objective observer that Piet Hein Donner is guilty, and a case against him is filed at the European court Be sure that the survivors of this fire won't stop until Piet Hein Donner is brought to justice.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yes we can expand the Africa Command; Hillary channels Barack and Bill

Cross post from the OpEdNews, http://www.opednews.com/articles/Yes-we-can-expand-the-Afri-by-Ann-Garrison-090813-517.html

Sustained collaboration around Congo

Yesterday, as a witness to the success of sustained online collaboration of digital activists in relation to the conflict in the Congo, Kambale Musavuli was invited to "Riz Khan" on Al Jazeera. Way before John Prendergast and Ushahidi discovered the conflict, friends of the Congo has been building it's loose and invisible but strong network, both in the US and abroad.



Gaurav Mishra has recently written a critical evaluation of the Vote Report India project, in which he focused on it's limitations and even calling it a failure. Ushahidi has been widely praised as an immense success while the results of it's adventure in the Congo remain unknown and uncertain. Meanwhile friends of the Congo were in the online trenches fighting against large media companies like CNN, the New York Times and so many others that refused to write about Rwanda's and Uganda's involvement. A fight also against scolars that were writing on how secession of the Kivu province would be a solution to the war in Congo.

Smallwarsjournal, a website that focuses on counterinsurgency, published a report on how sustained online collaboration among American soldiers across different websites and blogs, especially on the internetfora of platoons.org, companycommand and smallwarsjournal had an incredibly positive influence on the outcome of the surge in Iraq. I am convinced sustained online collaborative learning about the military aspects of counterinsurgency in Congo and how it relates to the political causes of the war in Congo can be part of a solution and can help restore peace in the great lakes region. So far I only found one online discussion forum that focused on this aspect of the war in Congo. I challenge you to give me one other example of a similar discussion forum on counterinsurgency in the Congo.

Gaurav Mishra writes about the four layers of the digital activism and asks us how we can leverage the "community" and "collective Intelligence" layers? I think that friends of the Congo has done an amazing job in connecting and engaging American students, African diaspora, bloggers the world across, on and offline, around the "social object" Congo. It's intriguing to see if and how this collaboration can grow into an even more vibrant community both for the benefit of the Congo and of our grasp of digital activism in general. Let's take up the enormous challenge and continue our online learning experience together! Meanwhile stay focused on what you do best and send me the links!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Yes we can! expand Africom and stop China; Obama and his Secretary of State in Africa

by Ann Garrison

Yes we can expand AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command, to stop China, and secure the oil, natural gas, uranium, biofuels, hydropower, and mineral wealth of the African Continent. I am not only the first African American President; I am also of half African parentage and I have an African name. I have welcome in Africa that the Chinese, for all their cash, can but dream of. Yes we can! I'll send Hillary! Yes we can!


Monday, August 3, 2009

Diaspora and new media in Gabon's Presidential election

UPDATE August 4 midnight: Andriankoto Ratozamanana, independent election observer, writes on twitter : @coloredopinions , I can tell you that there was NO INTERNET in #Gabon ... today ;)


As you can see on this picture ( in the Figaro diaporama by Flore Galaud), Omar Bongo even met the former French President Charles de Gaulles.

Omar Bongo who was born in Brazzaville during the time that Gabon and Congo Brazza still were one entity, died june 8. We are now closing in on the Presidential elections at the end of August. Omar Bongo was a colorfull politician who was forced by France to not intervene in the Biafra war. He converted to Islam somewhere in the seventies. That is probably also the reason that Gabon celebrates two Muslim holidays: Eid al-Kebir, and Eid al-Fitr, (Gabon even has a chief of Hajj mission in Saudi Arabia: Yousef Busharah). Omar Bongo apparently also was a free mason just like Félix Eboué. Without Félix Eboué, the highest ranking (non-vichy) French public servant in Africa in 1940, Charles de Gaulle would have just been a footnote in history.

Now that Omar Bongo has died campaigns are heating up. Online activity of the different candidates is increasing. According to afrik.com journalist Konye Obaji Ori the son of Omar Bongo, minister of Defense Ali-Ben Bongo will easily win these elections because of the state dominated mainstream media.

It is reasonable to assume that Pierre Mamboundou is the Presidential candidate in Gabon that has a chance as an opposition candidate to win the elections. He is an experienced leader of the largest opposition party. One of the interesting aspects of his campaign is the strong focus on the branches of the party abroad. The diaspora that supports him in Senegal organizes a political rally in Dakar. Keep in mind that Mamboundou had been forced in 1993 to live in Exile in Dakar for three and a half years. This probably made him aware of the potential for democratic development that resides among the diaspora Gabonese. In 2006 the party headquarters in Libreville had been burned down and in he had been foced to spent a month in the South-African ambassy.

Ben Moubamba has been ignored by mainstream media, like Jeune Afrique, is also running for President. He lives in France, but insists that he lives in Gabon 6 months a year in order to be legally accepted as a Presidential candidate. He has been in the news because of a letter he wrote against the President in the beginning of 2009. Global voices reports that Ben Moubamba is using new media to get his message across. You can even talk to Ben Moubamba's wife Virginie online, she started a blog too. As Rebecca reports August 1 on the blog of a Christian mission in Gabon, there is NO INTERNET IN GABON. It is hard to see how new media can reach voters in Libreville, Franceville, Owendo, Bitam or Lambaréné if there is no internet. Index mundi reports however that 140.000 people are connected to the internet in Gabon in 2008. Oh well, tedfellow Andriankoto Ratozamanana is in Gabon this month observing the elections on behalf of Free Actors of Gabonese Civil Society as New Media consultant. I hope he will give us some clarification on the existence or nonexistence of internet in Gabon. Apparently there is the "Guardien Angels of Gabon" citizens initiative that aims at ensuring a transparent election process, mmm ok let's see how effective that is.

A very active Gabonese blogger (blogging from Gabon?), Jean Manola, compares Pierre Mamboundou and Ben Moubamba and concludes that both are Presidential material, but that Mamboundou as an experienced politician has the upper hand. Jean Manola has a great blog on Gabon by the way. Some great recipees, for instance "Nyara de la basse Ngounié avec Parmesan- croûte". he also writes about Africa costume Jewelry on another blog. He also writes about fashion in Gabon on yet another blog on which he has a great link collection on African Fashion.

Mireille Nzoubou worked as a model in France and Italy, she also has her own blog where she writes about fashion.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Don't drink the uranium


Guardians of the Grand Canyon
opposing uranium mining. Photo credit Brenda Norrell

Cross post about Native American Havasupai resistance to uranium mining, which threatens the water supply throughout the Southwest U.S.A.'s Colorado River Basin, http://tinyurl.com/kwuzpo,

Cameco's difficulty getting its jet bore uranium mine into operation, in Northern Saskatchewan, and the dwindling reserves in the "nuclear bomb mine," have increased uranium demand and created uranium mining pressure not only in the U.S., but also in Australia, Africa, and elsewhere, and, most often, on indigenous land.

Dutch expat working in Senegal

Akke Wagenaar writes on WereldExpat about her experience of moving to Senegal without anything. In 2007 she decides to take pictures of houses that are for sale and posts them on www.senegalaisement.com, a Senegalese version of ebay. Slowly but surely she makes herself a name in Yene and surroundings as a real estate agent. People call from all over the world, even Canada and the US and she decides to get her own website immo yenne buys a villa and a piece of land and works together with a Senegalese that was active in the market for sometime. She became active on Elance as well. And if she gets homesick (She is Dutch), she watches dutch tv through the internet.

There is a train from Dakar to Bamako, jaimie doing a Phd in political science, she writes about stopping half way at some place called Kayes on her blog bamakoliving. There is also a blog about West Africa lifestyle madeinmine by Fatimata Ly from London. Tom and Lisa also write about Bamako and Dakar on their blog. I found this random video from a taxi in Bamako ( instantané le monde), it made me think of the song "fatimata se promène en taximetre..."

Talk of the town these days is about the "Biennale de la photographie de Bamako" from 7 to 13 november 2009. I hope some of the pictures and video's will be available online.

Fanie Jason (Afrique du Sud), Carters on the Way to the epping scrap yard, Série Cape Carting, Biennale de la photographie, Bamako 2005.
© Fanie Jason

The diaspora from Gabon in Senegal meets in favor of Presidential candidate Pierre MAMBOUNDOU as written on the website of the UPG (probably Union du Peuple Gabonais)

Read here about the trip in a Merdeces 208 Sprinter from France (september 10) to Bamako and even further to Ouagadougou. That means the roads aren't that bad all the way through Maroc, Western-Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali and Burkina Fasso. Did I forget some country?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Dakar to Marrakech by bus

When I read about the trip Marie et Johann Loaëc made by public transportation from Dakar to Brest I am really tempted. It's great reading about the experience others have traveling to Dakar from Rabat. Kite surfing at Tan Tan plage seems like a great idea. Look at these pictures at this beach half way to Dakar.

Would be great to find out more on how easy it is to drive from Rabat to Dakar. If you look at the map it seems like there is a very normal road.

If you have a website that gives some information about a trip to Dakar, you can post it below. Just like this oneabout a trip to Banjul in a VW golf.