September 12, 2013
By Blair Adams
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper
One of the most opinionated political commentators, Dr. Cornel West, has incited a new round of controversy by calling Rev. Al Sharpton a “Bonafide House Negro of the Obama Plantation.”
During an Aug. 30 interview with radio host Tavis Smiley, West spoke of the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. He said the celebration included some wonderful speakers, but most of the country didn’t get a chance to hear them because speeches made by Sharpton and President Barack Obama “sanitized” Dr.Martin Luther King’s vision.
“Instead, we saw of course the coronation of the bonafidehouse negro of the Obama plantation, our dear brother Al Sharpton, supported by the Michael Dysons and others who’ve really prostituted themselves intellectually in a very ugly and vicious way,” West said of Sharpton’s speech.
West said the anniversary of the March on Washington was a beautiful thing. “I was there in D.C. to see the magnificent expression of, like, faces and sparkling eyes of everyday people of all colors, hungry, thirsty for justice, hungry, thirsty for truth.”
“Brother Martin himself, I think, would’ve been turning over in his grave,” West said. “King would have wanted people to talk about Wall Street criminality, he wants people to talk about war crimes, or drones dropping bombs on innocent people.”
West’s comments call back to an April 30, 1967 speech by King entitled “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam”, in which the civil rights leader said:
“I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government.”
The hostility between West and Sharpton is nothing new. During a July interview on Democracy Now, West referred to Sharpton, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry as being “brought and paid for by the Rent-a-Negro network.”
According to audio found on Mediaite, West said, “if this anniversary happened during the Clinton presidency we would have seen the same thing.”
“Martin Luther King Jr. would just shed tears if he could see Black leadership personified by Sharpton at this point in time,” said West.
“Black leadership is just so sold out, it’s so bought out, it’s so differential and it’s so subservient,” he added.
September 05, 2013
By SARAH EL DEEB
A panel of Egyptian judges recommended on Monday September 2 the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood, adding momentum to a push by authorities to ban the ousted president's main backer and a pillar of political Islam in the region.
Since the military deposed Mohammed Morsi in a July 3 coup, it has steadily intensified a crackdown on the Brotherhood, Egypt's largest political organization. Hundreds of its members are in detention and facing prosecution, many on charges of inciting violence.
Morsi himself has been held in an undisclosed location since his ouster. On Sunday, state prosecutors charged him with inciting the murder of his opponents. A date has yet to be set for the trial, in which 14 leading Brotherhood members are also charged.
In its recommendation to Egypt's administrative court, the panel of judges accused the Brotherhood of operating outside the law. It also recommended the closure of its Cairo headquarters.
The recommendation is nonbinding for the court, which holds its next hearing on Nov. 12.
Both state and private Egyptian media have adopted the interim government's line on dealing with the Brotherhood since the coup, repeatedly describing the group's actions and those of other Morsi supporters as acts of "terrorism."
The 85-year-old organization had faced legal challenges even before Morsi's ouster. Officially banned for most of its existence, it flourished as a major provider of social services to the country's poor and eventually won seats in parliament and union leadership.
But its lack of legal status, as well as its secretive organization and funding had left it open to recurrent crackdowns by the government over the years. Thousands of its members had been imprisoned on charges ranging from endangering national security to belonging to an illegal organization.
The Brotherhood rose to the forefront of Egyptian politics however after the 2011 popular uprising that forced longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak from power. The group then formed a political party and won majority seats in the parliament. Its candidate, Morsi, became the country's first Islamist president.
The distinction between the religious-based Brotherhood and its political party however remained unclear, raising questions about financing and legal status and driving many opponents to file lawsuits seeking Brotherhood's dissolution.
A similar recommendation by a panel of judges was issued in March ahead of a court decision on the group's legal status. Only then, the Brotherhood declared it had registered itself as a non-governmental organization.
Critics questioned the hastened registration. Approval by the ministry overseeing such groups usually takes up to two months and requires review of applicants' records and accounting.
The non-governmental organization status also entails disengagement from political activities, such as backing candidates or campaigning before elections. Most observers doubted such a position would be possible for the Brotherhood, saying the distinction between the structure and funding of the group and its political party, Freedom and Justice, were opaque. Critics also charged that Morsi relied on the Brotherhood's leadership in his decision making.
Legal expert Nasser Amin said the court is likely to judge the Brotherhood in violation of the non-governmental organization status.
"It clearly had political programs and endorsed candidates in violation of the law," he said. "It also engaged in armed operations" when its members defended its headquarters building from protesters in a Cairo suburb at a time when nearly a half dozen Brotherhood offices were being torched.
At the time, Morsi blamed thugs for the political violence and accused the opposition of providing political cover for them. The largely secular opposition denied the charge, saying it did not condone violence.
Some in Egypt fear banning the Brotherhood and its political party would simply force it to again operate underground.
In a recent interview, interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said such a ban would not be a solution. He also warned against taking such dramatic decisions during turbulent times, and suggested government monitoring of political parties as a more reasonable alternative.
Mohammed Zaree, a civil and political rights campaigner with the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, said that although the Brotherhood's sudden registration as an organization left many questions unanswered, the current drive to ban it was more likely a move to appease a hostile public opinion and punish the group. Millions had demonstrated ahead of the coup demanding Morsi's resignation, accusing him and his group of abuse of power.
Doing so however would only drive it underground, Zaree said. "It was banned before. It never vanished ... Repression and security crackdowns never kill an idea — they only aggravate the problem."
September 05, 2013
By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA
South Africans on September 2 welcomed Nelson Mandela’s discharge from a hospital after nearly three months of treatment amid concerns that his health remains so poor that he still must receive intensive care at home.
An ambulance returned the 95-year-old leader of the anti-apartheid movement to his home in the leafy Johannesburg neighborhood of Houghton on Sunday. The office of South African President Jacob Zuma said Mandela remains in critical and sometimes unstable condition and will receive the same level of care that he did in the hospital, administered by the same doctors.
Authorities kept a large contingent of journalists away from the entrance to Mandela’s house, and police patrolled tree-lined streets in the area. Some grandchildren and other relatives of the former leader visited the home, but did not comment to the media.
When Mandela was hospitalized, many people left written tributes outside the perimeter wall of his home, turning the area into a makeshift shrine. Most of the messages were later removed.
“If he’s back at home, I’m feeling free,” said Harrison Phiri, a gardener. “He’s the father of the nation.”
Thembisa Mbolambi, another Johannesburg resident, also expressed satisfaction that Mandela had left the hospital in Pretoria, describing him as “the man who offered himself for us.”
The Star, a South African newspaper, carried a headline that read, “Madiba At Home,” referring to Mandela by his clan name. The newspaper noted that "worries over infection persist.”
A headline in The New Age newspaper was more upbeat: “World joy for Mandela.”
Mandela was admitted to the hospital on June 8 for what the government described as a recurring lung infection. Legal papers filed by his family said he was on life support, and many South Africans feared he was close to death.
Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is viewed around the world as a powerful figure of reconciliation. Despite being jailed for his prominent role in opposing white racist rule, Mandela was seemingly free of rancor on his release in 1990 after 27 years in prison.
He became a unifying leader who led South Africa through a delicate transition to all-race elections that propelled him to the presidency in 1994.
September 05, 2013
By ARLEY PETESCH
A splinter group has been formed within Nigeria's ruling party by a former presidential candidate and seven governors who want more action against poverty and crime, one of the governors said Monday, in the first major internal challenge to the president since he was elected in 2011.
Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, the governor of the southern Rivers state, told reporters that they hope to "transform from just a party that presents a candidate to a party with certain ideology."
He said the new group within the ruling People's Democratic Party, or PDP, wants the government to do more to fight poverty and insecurity as well as improve education.
"If you don't deal with poverty, you have insecurity," Amaechi said. "If you remove impunity then you don't have anything to worry about."
The governors made their move during a weekend convention by President Goodluck Jonathan's party, which has won every election since decades of military dictatorship ended in 1999 and democracy was restored. The final trigger for the splinter group came amid an internal fight to fill vacant positions within an influential committee of the ruling party.
Another senior party member, former interim PDP leader Kawu Baraje, said on Saturday that it was their "sacred responsibility to save the PDP from the antics of a few desperadoes who have no democratic temperament and are therefore bent on hijacking the party for selfish ends."
Amaechi insisted, however, that they remain part of the PDP.
"I think the splintering itself is generally a positive thing," said Raufu Mustapha, a Nigerian lecturer on African politics at the University of Oxford in England. "The party's power was beginning to threaten the quality of democratic expression in the country, so anything to strangle that threat is a good thing."
Mustapha said tension within the ruling party had been festering for some time, and called it a struggle for power rather than an ideological contest "because most of them are cut from the same cloth." But they have started an important debate and some represent change, he added.
The governors lead states that tend to have high voter turnout in elections, presenting a challenge to the current leadership of the party. Nigeria, which has a population of more than 160 million, holds elections in 2015.
Jonathan, who as vice president came to power after President Umar Yar'Adua died in 2010, has not said if he will run again. He would face the challenge of a coalition of three opposition parties.
Some northern politicians within the ruling party don't want Jonathan, a southerner and a Christian, to run for a second four-year term, objecting that northerners were cheated of their turn at the presidency when Yar'Adua died.
Analysts say there is an unwritten agreement within the ruling party that power must be shared between the north and the south and a northern president should be succeeded by a southerner in order to balance power in Africa's most populous nation.
Nigeria is divided about equally between Muslims who dominate the north and Christians who live mainly in the south.
Traditional rivalries between Christians and Muslims have intensified because of an Islamic uprising in Nigeria's northeast. The Boko Haram terrorist network is accused of killing more than 1,700 civilians since 2010, according to a count by The Associated Press.