Saviours' Day Gift 2013 Drive

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ethiopian News How Somalia’s Fishermen Became Pirates

Ethiopian News & Opinion Journal

How Somalia's Fishermen Became Pirates

April 22nd, 2009 | Categories: Featured

By Ishaan Tharoor | Time Magazine
Amid the current media frenzy about Somali pirates, it's hard not to imagine them as characters in some dystopian Horn of Africa version of Waterworld. We see wily corsairs in ragged clothing swarming out of their elusive mother ships, chewing narcotic khat while thumbing GPS phones and grappling hooks. They are not desperate bandits, experts say, rather savvy opportunists in the most lawless corner of the planet. But the pirates have never been the only ones exploiting the vulnerabilities of this troubled failed state — and are, in part, a product of the rest of the world's neglect.
Ever since a civil war brought down Somalia's last functional government in 1991, the country's 3,330 km (2,000 miles) of coastline — the longest in continental Africa — has been pillaged by foreign vessels. A United Nations report in 2006 said that, in the absence of the country's at one time serviceable coastguard, Somali waters have become the site of an international "free for all," with fishing fleets from around the world illegally plundering Somali stocks and freezing out the country's own rudimentarily-equipped fishermen. According to another U.N. report, an estimated $300 million worth of seafood is stolen from the country's coastline each year. "In any context," says Gustavo Carvalho, a London-based researcher with Global Witness, an environmental NGO, "that is a staggering sum."
In the face of this, impoverished Somalis living by the sea have been forced over the years to defend their own fishing expeditions out of ports such as Eyl, Kismayo and Harardhere — all now considered to be pirate dens. Somali fishermen, whose industry was always small-scale, lacked the advanced boats and technologies of their interloping competitors, and also complained of being shot at by foreign fishermen with water cannons and firearms. "The first pirate gangs emerged in the '90s to protect against foreign trawlers," says Peter Lehr, lecturer in terrorism studies at Scotland's University of St. Andrews and editor of Violence at Sea: Piracy in the Age of Global Terrorism. The names of existing pirate fleets, such as the National Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia or Somali Marines, are testament to the pirates' initial motivations.
The waters they sought to protect, says Lehr, were "an El Dorado for fishing fleets of many nations." A 2006 study published in the journal Science predicted that the current rate of commercial fishing would virtually empty the world's oceanic stocks by 2050. Yet, Somalia's seas still offer a particularly fertile patch for tuna, sardines and mackerel, and other lucrative species of seafood, including lobsters and sharks. In other parts of the Indian Ocean region, such as the Persian Gulf, fishermen resort to dynamite and other extreme measures to pull in the kinds of catches that are still in abundance off the Horn of Africa.
High-seas trawlers from countries as far flung as South Korea, Japan and Spain have operated down the Somali coast, often illegally and without licenses, for the better part of two decades, the U.N. says. They often fly flags of convenience from sea-faring friendly nations like Belize and Bahrain, which further helps the ships skirt international regulations and evade censure from their home countries. Tsuma Charo of the Nairobi-based East African Seafarers Assistance Programme, which monitors Somali pirate attacks and liaises with the hostage takers and the captured crews, says "illegal trawling has fed the piracy problem." In the early days of Somali piracy, those who seized trawlers without licenses could count on a quick ransom payment, since the boat owners and companies backing those vessels didn't want to draw attention to their violation of international maritime law. This, Charo reckons, allowed the pirates to build up their tactical networks and whetted their appetite for bigger spoils.
Beyond illegal fishing, foreign ships have also long been accused by local fishermen of dumping toxic and nuclear waste off Somalia's shores. A 2005 United Nations Environmental Program report cited uranium radioactive and other hazardous deposits leading to a rash of respiratory ailments and skin diseases breaking out in villages along the Somali coast. According to the U.N., at the time of the report, it cost $2.50 per ton for a European company to dump these types of materials off the Horn of Africa, as opposed to $250 per ton to dispose of them cleanly in Europe.
Monitoring and combating any of these misdeeds is next to impossible — Somalia's current government can barely find its feet in the wake of the 2006 U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion. And many Somalis, along with outside observers, suspect local officials in Mogadishu and in ports in semi-autonomous Puntland further north of accepting bribes from foreign fishermen as well as from pirate elders. U.N. monitors in 2005 and 2006 suggested an embargo on fish taken from Somali waters, but their proposals were shot down by members of the Security Council.
In the meantime, Somali piracy has metastasized into the country's only boom industry. Most of the pirates, observers say, are not former fishermen, but just poor folk seeking their fortune. Right now, they hold 18 cargo ships and some 300 sailors hostage — the work of a sophisticated and well-funded operation. A few pirates have offered testimony to the international press — a headline in Thursday's Times of London read, "They stole our lobsters: A Somali pirate tells his side of the story" — but Lehr and other Somali experts express their doubts. "Nowadays," Lehr says, "this sort of thing is just a cheap excuse." The legacy of nearly twenty years of inaction and abuse, though, is far more costly

Information Researched By: Sister Anonymous

Uproar at Disney’s choice of suitor for its black princess, Tiana

Times Online
April 25, 2009

Uproar at Disney’s choice of suitor for its black princess, Tiana

The arrival of a black First Lady in the White House might have been greeted with celebration around the world, but the similarly historic debut of Walt Disney’s first black princess has not been received so warmly.
The studio, known for its wholesome and predominantly white family values, has made several changes to its first African-American princess, Tiana, who will star in a new animated film this Christmas entitled The Princess and the Frog, amid accusations of racial insensitivity.
Disney has already changed the profession of the princess (an aspiring restaurant entrepreneur instead of a chambermaid) and name (Tiana instead of Maddy, which critics thought was too similar to “Mammy”, a once-common term for black female slaves in white households). Tiana will be played by Anika Noni Rose, who starred in Dreamgirls, while Tiana’s mother will be played by the talk-show host Oprah Winfrey.
The controversy has intensified after it was revealed that the film would be set in New Orleans and that Tiana would find love with a white prince — well, almost. His skin has been described as olive-toned and he will be voiced by Bruno Campos, a Brazilian actor.
“What? No black prince? What’s up with this?” blogged James Collier on Acting White, an anti-racism website, in a posting typical of the general disbelief among the film’s most vocal black critics. “Perhaps Disney doesn’t want the future mothers of dwindling white America being imprinted so early in their lives with the notion of a black suitor.”
Another blogger, Angela Helm, attracted nearly 3,000 comments on the Black Voices website when she complained that “even though there is a real-life black man in the highest office in the land with a black wife, Disney obviously doesn’t think a black man is worthy of the title of prince”.
It has been more than seven decades since Disney released its first princess movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The company’s “princess division” has eight characters, which generates an estimated $4 billion in revenues annually.
Until now, the line-up of royal heroines, which includes a Native American character (Pocahontas) and an Asian character (Mulan), was missing something: a black woman. And so the decision was made in the mid-2000s — before anyone outside of Chicago had heard of the Obamas — to make Tiana the ninth princess.
According to leaked details, the princess is transformed into a frog after kissing one and has to venture into the mystical bayous of Louisiana to find a cure from a voodoo queen.
Financial expectations are high. Disney’s last two blockbuster princess films, Mulan (1998) and Pocahontas (1995), each generated revenues of more than $300 million. Thanks to the arrival of the Obamas in the White House, Disney hopes that records will be broken.
Executives at the company have tried to play down the controversy. “During the development of any movie it’s common to change titles, character names and story points,” said a source close to the studio who did not want to be named. “The name Tiana evolved with the character. She’s a strong role model for everyone. She pursues the American dream of starting her own business and she does that with a strong work ethic.”
As for the claim that the New Orleans setting and voodoo themes play on black stereotypes, the source said: “New Orleans is an ideal setting for an American fairytale set in the jazz age — it’s all part of the fabric of the story.”
Pulling power
Snow White, 1937 Original worldwide box office (gross): $8.5 million
Cinderella, 1950 $35 million
Sleeping Beauty (Aurora), 1959 $51 million
Little Mermaid (Ariel), 1989 $211 million
Beauty and the Beast (Belle), 1991 $377 million
Aladdin (Jasmine), 1992 $504 million
Pocahontas, 1995 $346 million
Mulan, 1998 $304 million

This service is provided on Times Newspapers' standard Terms and Conditions. Please read our Privacy Policy.To inquire about a licence to reproduce material from Times Online, The Times or The Sunday Times, click here.This website is published by a member of the News International Group. News International Limited, 1 Virginia St, London E98 1XY, is the holding company for the News International group and is registered in England No 81701. VAT number GB 243 8054 69.

Information Researched By: Sister Anonymous

Black population becomes the majority in Brazil

MercoPress - South Atlantic News Agency

MercoPress. en español
Saturday, April 25th 2009
Saturday, April 25th 2009 - 12:40 am UTC

Black population becomes the majority in Brazil

Brazil and its almost 200 million population is no longer a country of white majority. The credit now belongs to the 49.6% black or mulatto population compared to the 49.4% defined as white and this is set to increase in coming years with that percentage increasing to 54, according to a recent report from the Rio do Janeiro Federal University.

Black population becomes the majority in Brazil

Professor Antonio Paixao from the Rio University’s Economy Institute believes that since Brazil is no longer a white majority country, “we need a policy of diversity”, which is a great challenge for the political establishment.
The black birth rate is also higher than that of the whites or Europeans descendents, so the big question is whether Brazil is prepared to face the fact that blacks and mulattos are becoming a solid majority, and how this will influence legislation, asks Paixao.
But current reality shows another picture, with a considerable degree of discrimination for the blacks: the basic food basket for a black person demands 76 hours of work compared to the average 54 hours for a white person.
Similarly illiteracy among blacks runs as high as 20%, but only 6% for whites.
Since Brazil was the last country in the region to grant slaves freedom in 1888, blacks have always been at a disadvantage in education and work opportunities, points out Paixao.
Similarly, access to tertiary education for blacks is far more up road, since most of them are condemned to work to subsist, while white families can afford to pay for their children’s education.
The administration of President Lula da Silva is credited with having invested heavily in the social and economic integration of the black people, for example by imposing a policy of quotas for blacks in universities.
Nevertheless power in Brazil rests in the whites who hold the strategic posts in politics and the economy.
But some blacks have had outstanding careers, mainly in sports and the arts. One of them is the world famous former football star Pelé and another the musician-composer Gilberto Gil. Both have held cabinet posts, but as a white initiative towards supporting diversity.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

USDA to review racism complaints Reuters

Wed 22 Apr 2009 19:10 IST

USDA to review racism complaints

Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:07am IST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday vowed to improve civil rights at the U.S. Agriculture Department, which has been hit by more than 14,000 complaints about racial discrimination since 2000.

The USDA, which has a long history of civil rights complaints from some farmers denied access to USDA benefits, has yet to review about 3,000 of them, said Vilsack, who acknowledged "questions continue to be raised about USDA's handling of complaints.
"There have been unresolved claims. There have been a backlog of claims. I want to close the book on all of those claims," Vilsack told the North American Agricultural Journalists.
"I want to make sure that we do everything we possibly can in the future not to have this magnitude of problems we've had for the last 20 years. It's time to get it past us," he said.
Vilsack said he will be creating a task force to review civil rights complaints lodged since 2000.
The department also is suspending all foreclosures within USDA's Farm Service Agency's farm loan program for 90 days to help financially strapped farmers and to review loans for possible discrimination.

A landmark multimillion-dollar settlement was reached in 1999 after black farmers said USDA unfairly denied their applications for USDA loan and benefit programs and failed to investigate complaints of bias. USDA so far has paid out about $1 billion to compensate black farmers.
(Reporting by Christopher Doering and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Christian Wiessner)

Information Researched By: Sister Anonymous

Race a Dominant Theme at Summit

Subject Seen as Drawing Leaders Closer

Gathered for a group portrait of hemispheric leaders are, from left, President Obama, El Salvador's Elias Antonio Saca, Uruguay's Tabaré Vázquez, Ecuador's Rafael Correa, Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Chile's Michelle Bachelet. (By Andres Leighton -- Associated Press)
Scott WilsonWashington Post Staff Writer Sunday, April 19, 2009

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, April 18 -- In presenting himself at a summit here as an equal partner to Latin America, President Obama is drawing on his race as evidence of U.S. social progress and of his own affinity for the region's poor.

Race occupies a far larger and more troubled place in Latin American politics than it does in Europe, where Obama rarely mentioned his ethnic background this month during his first overseas trip as president.

He is doing so more often here at the Summit of the Americas, in part to push an agenda that, among other issues, seeks to address the region's income disparity between rich and poor, the widest in the world.

In talking about his race and the backgrounds of his counterparts, Obama is associating himself more closely than his predecessors did with Latin America's indigenous, black and mixed-race underclass, which has long identified the United States with economic policies that benefit the elite of European descent far more than them.

The approach has helped to reduce, though not eliminate, the expected political strife between Obama and such populist leaders as Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Bolivia's Evo Morales, the first indigenous president of his country.

Those men explicitly mentioned Obama's race in a closed-door meeting Saturday as a sign that U.S. policy toward the region may change, according to several U.S. and Latin American officials who attended.

President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, a former union leader and political prisoner, and President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, one of the hemisphere's two elected female leaders, said in a separate private meeting Saturday that the region's diversity should be more fully appreciated with the presence of the first black U.S. president.

"The president put it on the table very explicitly" at the opening ceremony, said a senior Obama administration official who participates in closed-door meetings with the president. "Inequity in this hemisphere is extreme, and a hemisphere blessed with a lot of resources should not be suffering the way it is. Race is a part of that in many cases."
'Part of Who He Is'

The meeting rooms and hallways of the seaside hotel where the summit is taking place showcase an array of ethnicities -- black delegations of the Caribbean; indigenous representatives of some Andean nations; whites, blacks and Latinos from the United States and Canada.

In his opening speech, Obama said, "We have to stand up against any force that separates any of our people from that story of liberty -- whether it's crushing poverty or corrosive corruption; social exclusion or persistent racism or discrimination.

"Here in this room, and on this dais, we see the diversity of the Americas," Obama said. "Every one of our nations has a right to follow its own path."

In recent decades, the left represented by Chávez, Morales and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, who delivered a speech highly critical of the United States on opening night, has been lifted by an anti-American populism held most strongly by indigenous and mixed-race populations.

"As you go around the globe, there are many different ways of saying it and a different need to say it, but it follows him internationally wherever he goes," said James L. Jones, Obama's national security adviser, who also accompanied the president on his European trip.
"It is part of who he is," said Jones, referring to Obama's race. "It may not be fair in a way, carrying the hopes of millions of other people from around the world. And in a few years his words will be measured against his achievements, and that will be the acid test."

Latin America's Wounds
In a meeting Saturday with leaders of UNASUR, an association of South America's 12 countries, Obama spoke for less than a minute before saying he preferred to listen, said a senior Latin American diplomat in the room.

Chávez and Morales each mentioned Obama's race in their remarks -- Chávez as a sign that he might more closely identify with the region's poor, Morales in more skeptical tones. Morales expelled the U.S. ambassador and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration from his country last year.

"Chávez said explicitly, here we have a black president," said a Canadian official who attended the meeting but was not authorized to discuss the closed-door event.

"Morales said to [Obama], 'I can see publicly that there has been a change, that you have learned' -- and then he mentioned his race -- 'but that the actions of your people on the ground in my country are no different,' " the official said.

Before the meeting, Chávez handed Obama a book, "Las Venas Abiertas de America Latina," or "The Open Veins of Latin America." The work, published in the 1970s, is by Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano. It discusses the history of European colonization and what Galeano sees as the malign influence of the United States.

In an interview with the radio program "Democracy Now" soon after Obama's election, Galeano said: "The White House will be Barack Obama's house in the time coming, but this White House was built by black slaves. And I'd like, I hope, that he never, never forgets this."
The senior Latin American diplomat said: "I see many of the others making a point of his race. . . . I don't see him doing it nearly as much."

'Global Consensus' Sought
Obama has mentioned his race as part of a Latin America agenda broader than the Bush administration's, which focused primarily on promoting an economic policy of free trade, government privatizations and lower public debt. The mix became known as the Washington Consensus, a term used as an epithet in much of Latin America.

The last Summit of the Americas, in 2005, was dominated by differences over trade, which the Bush administration saw as the best way to promote economic growth.

But much of the region's recent growth has been driven by exports of natural resources, often controlled by small groups of families or foreign companies. The income gap has widened in some countries.

By contrast, Obama announced Saturday that the United States will contribute to a new $100 million micro-finance loan program for the region. And during a meeting with 14 Caribbean leaders the previous evening, he said "bottom-up growth" should be the approach each leader takes to reduce poverty, a senior administration official said.

"It's pretty clear that what President Obama is working toward is a global consensus," said Lawrence H. Summers, director of the White House's National Economic Council. "When you have a storm like this one, you need a collective recognition that the poor need help, not more policy hectoring."

Information Researched By: Sister Anonymous

Former astronaut: Man not alone in universe

(CNN) -- Earth Day may fall later this week, but as far as former NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell and other UFO enthusiasts are concerned, the real story is happening elsewhere.

Former NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell, shown in 1998, says "there really is no doubt we are being visited."

Mitchell, who was part of the 1971 Apollo 14 moon mission, asserted Monday that extraterrestrial life exists, and that the truth is being concealed by the U.S. and other governments.
He delivered his remarks during an appearance at the National Press Club following the conclusion of the fifth annual X-Conference, a meeting of UFO activists and researchers studying the possibility of alien life forms.
Mankind has long wondered if we're "alone in the universe. [But] only in our period do we really have evidence. No, we're not alone," Mitchell said.
"Our destiny, in my opinion, and we might as well get started with it, is [to] become a part of the planetary community. ... We should be ready to reach out beyond our planet and beyond our solar system to find out what is really going on out there."

Mitchell grew up in Roswell, New Mexico, which some UFO believers maintain was the site of a UFO crash in 1947. He said residents of his hometown "had been hushed and told not to talk about their experience by military authorities." They had been warned of "dire consequences" if they did so.

Don't Miss
Dog walker 'met man from another planet'
Hundreds of 'alien' aircraft sightings

But, he claimed, they "didn't want to go to the grave with their story. They wanted to tell somebody reliable. And being a local boy and having been to the moon, they considered me reliable enough to whisper in my ear their particular story."
Roughly 10 years ago, Mitchell claimed, he was finally given an appointment at Pentagon to discuss what he had been told.

An unnamed admiral working for the Joint Chiefs of Staff promised to uncover the truth behind the Roswell story, Mitchell said. The stories of a UFO crash "were confirmed," but the admiral was then denied access when he "tried to get into the inner workings of that process."
The same admiral, Mitchell claimed, now denies the story.

"I urge those who are doubtful: Read the books, read the lore, start to understand what has really been going on. Because there really is no doubt we are being visited," he said.
"The universe that we live in is much more wondrous, exciting, complex and far-reaching than we were ever able to know up to this point in time."
A NASA spokesman denied any cover-up.

"NASA does not track UFOs. NASA is not involved in any sort of cover-up about alien life on this planet or anywhere else -- period," Michael Cabbage said Monday.
Debates have continued about what happened at Roswell. The U.S. Air Force said in 1994 that wreckage recovered there in 1947 was most likely from a balloon-launched classified government project.

Stephen Bassett, head of the Paradigm Research Group (PRG), which hosted the X-Conference, said that the truth about extraterrestrial life is being suppressed because it is politically explosive.

"There is a third rail [in American politics], and that is the UFO question. It is many magnitudes more radioactive than Social Security ever dreamed to be," Bassett said.
All About UFOs and Alien AbductionsRoswell (New Mexico)NASA

Information Researched By: Sister Anonymous