August 21, 2014
By Saeed Shabazz
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News
Incensed by the news that President Barack Obama gave $10 million to France to fight terrorism in three of its former African colonies, Minister Menelik Harris, of the Atlanta-based World African Diaspora Union, sent out an email message demanding that Obama keep his “terror money.”
Menelik suggested that the president of the U.S. should instead “give us our trillions of dollars in reparations to rebuild Africa as one union government to protect our enslaved, devastated and scattered people.”
Aug. 11, website The Hill announced that Obama directed the $10 million in foreign aid to France to assist in “counter[ter]rorism operations on the African continent to target terror groups.” The article stated that money went to support a French counterterrorism operation code-named “Barkhan,” which would prevent the establishment of a “jihadist” foothold between Libya and the Atlantic Ocean.
The Hill quoted a deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, as saying the U.S. was “very focused on the threat of terrorism in Africa.”
Obama issued a short statement concerning the money from his vacation spot on Martha’s Vineyard, located off the Massachusetts coast. “I hereby determine that an unforeseen emergency exists that requires immediate military assistance to France in its efforts to save Mali, Niger and Chad from terrorists and violent extremists,” said Obama.
“This shows that U.S. and French imperialism is alive in Africa, and that they are the real terrorists,” Sara Flounders, co-founder of the International Action Network, told the AmNews.
Observers say that in Mali, France has intervened to prop up the Bamako government to put down the aspirations for independence in Azawad, where the Tuareg have called for their own state.
In the corridors of the United Nations, there are suggestions that France continues to show that colonialism is not dead and that France’s colonialism is purely economic. One example cited at the U.N. is that France wants to charge other U.N. member states an “airfield service” fee in northern Mali. The French mission to the U.N. was asked to comment but had not responded as of AmNews press time.
The French have also refused to respond to questions from the U.N. press corps concerning the purchase of a $40 million jet by Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, which was criticized by the International Monetary Fund.
An IMF spokesman, Gerry Rice, explained to the press at the U.N. on May 22 that his organization was “concerned” about the “quality” of recent decisions by the Keita regime, including the purchase of the airplane.
Emira Woods, the global client principal for social impact programs at ThoughtWorks, a technology firm committed to social and economic justice, explained to the AmNews that the U.S. and France have “prioritized military efforts in Africa.”
Woods, who also serves as an associate fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute of Policy Studies, argues that the U.S.-French relationship is purely economic. “Both nations are interested in the resources in the region,” she said.
Understand that 70 percent of energy in France is nuclear, Woods stated. Analysts say that oil-rich Mali and Niger also have huge uranium deposits. The French nuclear company AREVA has just reportedly signed a new lease with the regimes in Niger and Mali. Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters in Niger have been demanding transparency concerning the new lease agreement, which they say does not benefit the people.
Some analysts say that AREVA may have agreed to give up a number of tax breaks and a 12 percent increase in royalties to the government.
Chad’s role in all of this has been to supply troops for the French-led intervention in Mali. The regime, led by President Idriss Deby, has proven to be an indispensable ally to Western powers looking for allies in the Sahel, according to the Foreign Military Studies Office website OE Watch.
Woods, addressing the recent U.S.-Africa Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., stated that the “vast resources in Africa cannot be extracted to benefit the 1 percent.”
On Aug. 9, the Washington Post editorialized, “Sadly, the summit dealt little with human rights improvements that would sustain Africa’s growth.”
“I don’t see any of this as a hopeful sign for Africa,” Woods told the AmNews.
August 14, 2014
By Kenneth D. Miller
Assistant Managing Editor
It has been more than one year and the pain and grief felt by the family of the promising teenage Bijan Shoushari who as murdered on Crenshaw Blvd. on Aug. 3, 2013 is still fresh.
He would have been 19 years old by now, finishing up his first year of college to become a first responder, but instead is another unsolved murder of a Black teen whose life was taken before it flourished.
Two week ago, the family and friends of Shoushari gathered on the anniversary of his murder at Leimert Park in the Crenshaw District, adjacent to a giant billboard offering a $50,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of his killer or killers.
Shoushtari was shot to death while riding in a car on Crenshaw Boulevard shortly after midnight on Aug. 3, 2013. The shots were fired from a car that pulled up alongside the white 1973 Buick Electra in which Shoushtari was riding. No one else in the car was hurt.
His mother Marsha and family members have vowed to continued to question why would a person kill a teen who was high school football player and good standing member of his church?
It is a question that mothers and family members of other young Black boys or teen slain by senseless violence in this never ending tragic tale of Black on Black crime.
While discovering who did it and why would not bring back Bijan, it would in a sense give the family some closure and more importantly take an individual or individuals who are callous killers off the street.
Shoushtari had just graduated from Hamilton High, where he was a football player. He had plans to go to college and wanted to be an emergency medical technician, then eventually a firefighter.
“If the people who shot him knew him, they wouldn't have shot him,” said Mark Jones, his uncle, a local pastor, pondered.
More than 100 people, including family members suffering from similar plights helt lit candles and solemnly marched in the park . They wore green T-shirts, with words pleading for Stop The Violence. It is a plea that many in the community wish would be heeded to, even if it was too late for Bijan Shoushari.
“If you know someone who knows someone who did this heinous crime, please, please call someone,” Jones-Shoushtari said.
The killing has led friends and family to start a campaign called “Stop the violence, save lives” aimed at curbing violence.
“This is a way of life for us now,” Jones-Shoushtari said.
Her family has learned to cope. Her husband, Manochehr, is sometimes angry, and he is very protective of his 21-year-old daughter, Ea, who attends Pepperdine University.
Ea and older sister Samantha, 27, recently got tattoos of their brother’s name in Farsi as a remembrance.
For Samantha, the passage of time has allowed her to more fully accept her brother's death.
“When I look at his pictures now, I smile,” she said. “Before it was hard.”
Jones-Shoushtari said she received a phone call from the Los Angeles Unified School District recently. The caller told her that the district was polling recent graduates to track their progress and wanted to know what Bijan was up to.
She told the woman that her son had been killed but added that if he were alive, he would have been finishing his first year of college, working a part-time job and taking summer school classes.
Los Angeles police detectives say they have no leads or motives in the case. A $50,000 reward has been offered.
Anyone with information on this case can call the LAPD’s Criminal Gang Homicide Division at (213) 485-4341.
Sentinel Wire Services contributed to this report.
August 14, 2014
By Chris King
Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American
Jesse Jackson told The American he hopes that the U.S. Department of Justice sees the Ferguson Police shooting of Michael Brown on Saturday and resulting community violence as “systematic of a national crisis.”
Jackson said, “It was a crime of injustice.” Jackson said.
The injustice, he said, was two-fold: a police shooting of an unarmed black teen followed by black youth from high-unemployment neighborhoods erupting in rage.
“Black men should not be the objects of target practice,” Jackson said of the shooting. “It’s not a unique situation. It’s a prototypical American situation. Police departments do not reflect the population. It’s awful, but it’s not unique.”
The resulting community violence, following a non-violent candlelight vigil to commemorate Brown, should be seen in the context of a chronic urban crisis, he said.
“Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction,” Jackson said. “Poverty is in the community, guns are in, drugs are in, jobs are out. Banks are bailed out without meaningful community reinvestment. Too many people have no stake in the culture.”
Jackson said that chronic urban problems remain to be addressed after the shooting of Michael Brown and the community’s outrage are resolved.
“These kids need educations, skills, job training, jobs, scholarships to college,” Jackson said. “We need a national forum on urban policy, justice and repression. This is a national crisis that has manifested in Ferguson.”
Asked for advice to organizers on the ground, Jackson said, “That’s tough. I saw a sign that said we need quietness. Quietness is not the answer. Quietness is the absence of noise. We need the presence of justice.”
August 14, 2014
By JEFFREY COLLINS
A Charlotte woman is facing charges after police say she helped her son set himself on fire in a videotaped stunt known as the “fire challenge” that’s gaining popularity on social media and has left at least two other children with severe burns.
The video taken in late July was posted on Facebook and made its way around the Internet. The 16-year-old boy is seen in the shower with shorts on, dousing himself in what appears to be nail polish remover. He lights his chest on fire, but panics and runs from the bathroom. Others had to help him put out the blaze.
The teen suffered minor burns to his chest and neck, according to a news release from police. Someone who knew the mom and teen called social workers, who called police. Janie Talley, 41, was arrested earlier this month on a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A phone listing for Talley could not be found, and police records didn't indicate whether she had a lawyer.
In the past month or so, the “fire challenge” has increased in popularity on the Internet. Participants are supposed to pour flammable liquids on themselves and set themselves ablaze, hopefully extinguishing the flames before they burn the skin.
But it can go wrong easily. People panic when the flames quickly spread and aren't immediately extinguished, then forget to douse themselves with water. Running also gives the flames more oxygen to grow. Superheated air can be inhaled, burning the inside of the lungs. Clothes can catch fire on parts of the body not protected by the flammable liquid. And when open flames cause burns, they are usually second- and third-degree burns which are some of the most devastating injuries that can happen to someone, said Ernest Grant, a spokesman for the Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill.
“It just goes against everything we’re taught from when we’re young and defies common sense,” Grant said.
In the past three weeks, the burn center has treated a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old who burned themselves severely in the stunt, requiring extensive surgery and perhaps leaving them scarred for life, Grant said.
Several videos have popped up in recent weeks on Facebook, which is deleting them as soon as they are reported.
The extent of the trend isn’t known, but Grant and others said it can go wrong so easily that it is dangerous any time it is tried. Several cases have been reported across the country in the past few weeks, including a 16-year-old boy in California who suffered serious burns.
August 07, 2014
LAWT News Service
The Little Miss African American Scholarship Pageant (LMAA) comes of age this year with its 21-year anniversary celebration on August 10, at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles. Actresses Laila Ali and Meagan Good will co-host, joining Dawnn Lewis, the mistress of ceremonies, as a bevy of little beauties, ages six to 12, make their way on stage to compete for over $10,000 in scholarships and prizes. Pageant producer Lisa Ruffin notes that this year’s event will also celebrate past contestants who have grown up and gone on to accomplish “wonderful feats.”
Judges this year include Penny Johnson Jerald (ABC-TV’s “Castle”); Ella Joyce (TV One’s “Belle’s”); Lamman Rucker (TBS’s “Meet the Browns”); Shamicka Lawrence (VH-1’s “Hollywood Exes”) and TV/radio host Mother Love. The pageant starts at 4:00 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online at www.littlemissafricanamerican.org as well as at the door. VIP and reserved seating is available.
Cites Pageant producer/choreographer, Lisa Ruffin, “These young ladies just keep me going strong. This year, as we turn 21, we honor them all, past and present. Alycia Jones was the very first LMAA and received her bachelor’s degree from University of Florida. Our second, Alexis Witherspoon competed in the Olympics Trials, then graduated from USC. LaTanya Fisher was LMAA 1995 and she graduated from USC as well. Myisha Lyseight was LMAA 1996. She earned her B.S. in Psychology from UCLA. She went on to complete her Masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology at Syracuse University in New York. She also played it forward by joining the LMAA staff last year.”
“The state of Texas produced LMAA 1998, Lauren Hayes. Lauren graduated from the very prestigious Notre Dame and is currently working there. Then there is Miss Shakina that Academy Award winner Mo’Nique crowned,” continues Ruffin. “She graduated from USC and is in Law School at Howard University. We train our girls to wear their C.A.P. (Confidence, Awarness & Pride)!”
For more information and to purchase tickets go to http://littlemissafricanamerican.org/.
For a visual overview of the pageant and its impact on contestants, go to http://vimeo.com/15018101.