Wednesday, 16 April 2014
Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Courtesy of brother Gamal Nkrumah, Kwame Nrukumah's son.
"April and May, two breathrakingly beautiful months, for me personally they have a particular emotional appeal. My Father left this earthly realm in April and my Mother in May. This is a 164 photograph of the opening of the presidential residence flagstaff house zoo in Accra. Father was estatic, he loved animals, and Mother was her most graceful self. Africa must unite. I feature with my dearest Sister Samia, CPP Chairperson."
Sunday, 13 April 2014
Radical Black & Asian Publishing: Legacies & Continuing Challenges
Sat 10 May 1-230pm
London EC2M 4QH
As part of the The London Radical Bookfair & Alternative Press Takeover
Chair: Sukant Chandan - Sons of Malcolm
Speaker: Eric Huntley - Bogle L'Overture Books / Radical Black and Third World Bookfair (1982-1995)
more speakers tbc
At the London Radical Bookfair & Alternative Press Takeover one day event, we will be holding a panel on the experience and legacy of radical anti-imperialist, Black and Asian publishing of previous generations, and the continuing challenges and importance of developing publishing today for the struggle of the GlobalSouth against white supremacy and imperialism and for our collective Liberation.
We are delighted to have on this panel Eric Huntley, who with Jessica Huntley and their Bogle Overture books (and the related Walter Rodney bookshop which used to be in West Ealing, in West London) helped to organise with several other Black and Asian radical publishers the International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books between 1982 - 1995.
The challenges remain for those interested in the on-going Liberation struggles of the GlobalSouth to develop analysis, culture, theory, history and fictional and children's books in relation to the newer generations in new political contexts of the world struggle with new forms of publishing especially in the realm of the digital age.
(This event will be filmed, live streamed and uploaded onto youtube, by attending this event you are giving permission to be possible filmed)
Friday, 11 April 2014
President Jacob Zuma says the EU should not decide who attends the EU-Africa Summit.
South Africa has come out in support of the African Union call to shun the European Union-Africa Summit in Brussels this week.
The countries are of the view that European Union is dictating the composition of Africa's delegation.
There are some controversial inclusions and omissions. President Jacob Zuma has joined leaders like Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe boycotting the summit. Pretoria will be represented on a ministerial level.
The European Union-Africa summit is a gathering of 90 countries from two continents attended by 65 heads of states and government.
On the agenda is trade and political relations but there will be some notable absentees.
“I think that time must pass wherein we are looked as subjects, we are told who must come, who must not come, we have not attempted to decide when we meet Europe; who must come and who must not come. It is wrong and causes this unnecessary unpleasantness. I thought the AU and EU are equal organisations representing two continents but there is not a single one of them who must decide for others,” says President Jacob Zuma.
Eritrea has been barred from attending because of its human rights record. The SADR, also known as Western Sahara is also excluded because of its territorial dispute with Morocco, which is not an AU member.
Sudan was invited, but it’s President, Omar al-Bashir shunned the event. He is wanted by the ICC for human rights atrocities.
Grace Mugabe was not granted a visa to travel with her husband and Egypt, which has been suspended from the AU, got the nod.
Analysts say that the continent should decide on its own delegates.
"The position of the African Union is that it should be up to the African Union rather than the European Union to decide which African leaders are accepted or not .
It seems SA is taking a stand to say you have no right to exclude particular African leaders," says Political Analyst Steven Friedman.
Friedman adds that the diplomatic gesture will have no bearing on trade relations between South Africa and the EU, Pretoria’s biggest trading partner.
The EU finds itself in the midst of another diplomatic wrangle. It signed an agreement with Ukraine forging closer economic ties, in a show of support following Russia's annexation of Crimea.
Feds reportedly built secret social media network in Cuba to stir unrest
"The social media project began development in 2009 after Washington-based Creative Associates International obtained a half-million Cuban cellphone numbers. It was unclear to the AP how the numbers were obtained, although documents indicate they were done so illicitly from a key source inside the country's state-run provider. Project organizers used those numbers to start a subscriber base.
ZunZuneo's organizers wanted the social network to grow slowly to avoid detection by the Cuban government. Eventually, documents and interviews reveal, they hoped the network would reach critical mass so that dissidents could organize "smart mobs" -- mass gatherings called at a moment's notice -- that could trigger political demonstrations, or "renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society.""
The U.S. government masterminded the creation of a "Cuban Twitter" -- a communications network designed to undermine the communist government in Cuba, built with secret shell companies and financed through foreign banks, The Associated Press has learned.
The project, which lasted more than two years and drew tens of thousands of subscribers, sought to evade Cuba's stranglehold on the Internet with a primitive social media platform. First, the network would build a Cuban audience, mostly young people; then, the plan was to push them toward dissent.
Yet its users were neither aware it was created by a U.S. agency with ties to the State Department, nor that American contractors were gathering personal data about them, in the hope that the information might be used someday for political purposes.
It is unclear whether the scheme was legal under U.S. law, which requires written authorization of covert action by the president and congressional notification. Officials at USAID would not say who had approved the program or whether the White House was aware of it. The Cuban government declined a request for comment.
At minimum, details uncovered by the AP appear to muddy the U.S. Agency for International Development's longstanding claims that it does not conduct covert actions, and could undermine the agency's mission to deliver aid to the world's poor and vulnerable -- an effort that requires the trust and cooperation of foreign governments.
USAID and its contractors went to extensive lengths to conceal Washington's ties to the project, according to interviews and documents obtained by the AP. They set up front companies in Spain and the Cayman Islands to hide the money trail, and recruited CEOs without telling them they would be working on a U.S. taxpayer-funded project.
"There will be absolutely no mention of United States government involvement," according to a 2010 memo from Mobile Accord Inc., one of the project's creators. "This is absolutely crucial for the long-term success of the service and to ensure the success of the Mission."
The project, dubbed "ZunZuneo," slang for a Cuban hummingbird's tweet, was publicly launched shortly after the 2009 arrest in Cuba of American contractor Alan Gross. He was imprisoned after traveling repeatedly to the country on a separate, clandestine USAID mission to expand Internet access using sensitive technology that only governments use.
USAID said in a statement that it is "proud of its work in Cuba to provide basic humanitarian assistance, promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to help information flow more freely to the Cuban people," whom it said "have lived under an authoritarian regime" for 50 years. The agency said its work was found to be "consistent with U.S. law."
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and chairman of the Appropriations Committee's State Department and foreign operations subcommittee, said the ZunZuneo revelations were troubling.
"There is the risk to young, unsuspecting Cuban cellphone users who had no idea this was a U.S. government-funded activity," he said. "There is the clandestine nature of the program that was not disclosed to the appropriations subcommittee with oversight responsibility. And there is the fact that it was apparently activated shortly after Alan Gross, a USAID subcontractor who was sent to Cuba to help provide citizens access to the Internet, was arrested."
The AP obtained more than 1,000 pages of documents about the project's development. It independently verified the project's scope and details in the documents through publicly available databases, government sources and interviews with those involved in ZunZuneo.
ZunZuneo would seem to be a throwback from Cold War, and the decades-long struggle between the United States and Cuba. It came at a time when the historically sour relationship between the countries had improved, at least marginally, and Cuba had made tentative steps toward a more market-based economy.
The social media project began development in 2009 after Washington-based Creative Associates International obtained a half-million Cuban cellphone numbers. It was unclear to the AP how the numbers were obtained, although documents indicate they were done so illicitly from a key source inside the country's state-run provider. Project organizers used those numbers to start a subscriber base.
ZunZuneo's organizers wanted the social network to grow slowly to avoid detection by the Cuban government. Eventually, documents and interviews reveal, they hoped the network would reach critical mass so that dissidents could organize "smart mobs" -- mass gatherings called at a moment's notice -- that could trigger political demonstrations, or "renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society."
The Cuban government has a tight grip on information, and the country's leaders view the Internet as a "wild colt" that "should be tamed." ZunZuneo's leaders planned to push Cuba "out of a stalemate through tactical and temporary initiatives, and get the transition process going again toward democratic change."
At a 2011 speech at George Washington University, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. helps people in "oppressive Internet environments get around filters." Noting Tunisia's role in the Arab Spring, she said people used technology to help "fuel a movement that led to revolutionary change."
Suzanne Hall, then a State Department official working on Clinton's social media efforts, helped spearhead an attempt to get Twitter founder Jack Dorsey to take over the ZunZuneo project. Dorsey declined to comment.
The estimated $1.6 million spent on ZunZuneo was publicly earmarked for an unspecified project in Pakistan, public government data show, but those documents don't reveal where the funds were actually spent.
ZunZuneo's organizers worked hard to create a network that looked like a legitimate business, including the creation of a companion website -- and marketing campaign -- so users could subscribe and send their own text messages to groups of their choice.
"Mock ad banners will give it the appearance of a commercial enterprise," one written proposal obtained by the AP said. Behind the scenes, ZunZuneo's computers were also storing and analyzing subscribers' messages and other demographic information, including gender, age, "receptiveness" and "political tendencies." USAID believed the demographics on dissent could help it target its other Cuba programs and "maximize our possibilities to extend our reach.".
"It was such a marvelous thing," said Ernesto Guerra, a Cuban user who never suspected his beloved network had ties to Washington.
"How was I supposed to realize that?" Guerra asked in an interview in Havana. "It's not like there was a sign saying, `Welcome to ZunZuneo, brought to you by USAID."'
Executives set up a corporation in Spain and an operating company in the Cayman Islands -- a well-known British offshore tax haven -- to pay the company's bills so the "money trail will not trace back to America," a strategy memo said. That would have been a catastrophic blow, they concluded, because it would undermine the service's credibility with subscribers and get shut down by the Cuban government.
Similarly, subscribers' messages were funneled through two other countries -- but never through American-based computer servers.
Denver-based Mobile Accord considered at least a dozen candidates to head the European front company. One candidate, Francoise de Valera, told the AP she was told nothing about Cuba or U.S. involvement.
James Eberhard, Mobile Accord's CEO and a key player in the project's development, declined to comment. Creative Associates referred questions to USAID.
For more than two years, ZunZuneo grew and reached at least 40,000 subscribers. But documents reveal the team found evidence Cuban officials tried to trace the text messages and break into the ZunZuneo system. USAID told the AP that ZunZuneo stopped in September 2012 when a government grant ended.
ZunZuneo vanished abruptly in 2012, and the Communist Party remains in power -- with no Cuban Spring on the horizon.
"The moment when ZunZuneo disappeared, (it) was like a vacuum," said Guerra, the ZunZuneo user. "In the end, we never learned what happened. We never learned where it came from."
Three Venezuelan Air Force Generals Arrested in Coup Plot
25th MARCH 2014.— Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announced today that three generals of the Venezuelan Air Force have been arrested, after they were denounced by lower-ranking officials for their involvement in alleged coup plans.
Last night we captured three Air Force generals that we had been investigating thanks to the powerful moral force of our National Bolivarian Armed Forces: three generals that aimed to rise the Air Force against the legitimately constituted government," he said during a live broadcast on state TV.
Maduro argued that those arrested "have direct links with the opposition, and said that this week was decisive". According to the president, the alleged coup plot involves creating "psychological" chaos through attacking electricity and other services, and then striking against the government. The three generals are now under custody and will face an investigation.
The announcement was made on the same day that foreign ministers of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) arrive in the country to support dialogue efforts between the government and opposition.
Venezuela has been subject to a wave of opposition protests, riots and roadblocks since early February. The violence has left 35 dead, including National Guard officers, opposition activists and government supporters. Several hard-line opposition leaders openly call for the government’s resignation.
In his speech Maduro asked the country and UNASUR to support the Truth Commission established by the National Assembly last week to investigate the recent acts of violence. Opposition parliamentarians have not yet decided if they will participate in the commission, which would have five pro-government and four opposition legislators as members.
It remains to be seen whether the presence of UNASUR ministers will encourage the opposition to join peace talks, which have been underway between the government and business, religious, and a few moderate opposition politicians since last month. So far the majority of the opposition leadership has refused to dialogue, stating that political concessions, or "conditions", must be satisfied first.
"We hope that in its 48 hour visit the UNASUR commission can reach conclusions that help Venezuela strengthen the climate of peace and defend democracy even more, and likewise to collaborate with the people so that they can consolidate all mechanisms of social and political dialogue," Maduro stated.