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.