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Are we stingy?

President Bush finally roused himself yesterday from his vacation in Crawford, Tex., to telephone his sympathy to the leaders of India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia, and to speak publicly about the devastation of Sunday's tsunamis in Asia. He also hurried to put as much distance as possible between himself and America's initial measly aid offer of $15 million, and he took issue with an earlier statement by the United Nations' emergency relief coordinator, Jan Egeland, who had called the overall aid efforts by rich Western nations "stingy." "The person who made that statement was very misguided and ill informed," the president said.

Well it looks like Egeland has done for the aid efforts a great deal of service. The United States have increased it's aid package ten fold to $350 million. After initial spinning the bushes have realise that they've got to ante- up. Their public relations campaign was not working. Some people are even calling for the cancellation of his innaguaral parties. They contend that he should instead donate the $40-50 million slated for the parties to the relief efforts in Asia. I doubt he will agree to do that. But either way Egeland should be proud of his comments.

This will be my last posting for the year 2004. In that case I will like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers a Happy and Prosperous new year and many more to come.

Change of Heart?... Maybe..

Tombong Saidy... the erstwhile director of Gambia Television has an interesting prose in the daily observer. It makes me wonder if he is finally coming to his senses. However sycophancy is an addiction. We can't expect people like him to quit cold turkey. Psychotherapist will tell you that the road to recovery is the acknowledgement of a problem. In that case this is a start for tombong.

Social security... is it a crisis?

" Much as the Iraq war was preceded by speeches designed to show Hussein in the most threatening light, the Bush economic summit seemed designed to dominate a slow news week with the idea that failing to deal with Social Security now will hurt the national economy. "...The Boston Globe's take on the Bush teams new iniatiative... vis-a-vis to dismantle social security as we know it under the guise of fixing it by using the same deceitful tactics they use prior to the Iraq invasion.

Act .. organise... for sanity to prevail.

"Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph." -His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I

The Gambia press union decided to take to the street to protest the murder of their Colleague ... story is courtesy of UN Integrated Regional Information Networks...

Thousands of people thronged the streets of Banjul on Wednesday in a peaceful protest against the murder of one of the Gambia's leading journalists by unidentified gunmen.
About 300 journalists - virtually the entire press corps of this small West African country - marched through the streets to protest at the killing of Deyda Hydara, a newspaper editor and veteran campaigner for press freedom, who was shot dead last week.
Thousands of people lined the route of the march shouting slogans of support, but they refrained from joining the march after the police made clear that non-journalists would be prevented from taking part in the demonstration.
Hydara, the editor of the Gambia's hard-hitting four-times-a-week newspaper, The Point, was shot three times in the head on the night of 16 December when the car in which he was travelling came under fire. He died instantly. Two female colleagues who were travelling with him in the same vehicle were wounded.
Gambian police said Saturday they were following all leads in the murder but were still waiting for "a breakthrough".
"We called today's march in protest against the murder of our colleague Deyda Hydara and we are very happy that it passed off peacefully," Demba Jawo, who heads the Gambia Press Union, told IRIN.
There was a large deployment of police and heavily-armed soldiers in Banjul as the protesters marched by wearing T-shirts bearing the portrait of the slain editor and waving posters with his photo.
One placard said "Freedom of the press is a basic right," while another read "Who killed Deyda?"
The marchers handed in letters to the headquarters of the police and Interior Ministry. Asked about their contents, Jawo said: "Weare demanding that the security forces take action to stop these kinds of brutal attacks against journalists which have been going on for a long time and have finally culminated in the murder of one of our members."
The government has condemned Hydara's murder and has pledged to find those responsible.
However, human rights groups and international press freedom watchdogs have repeatedly accused President Yahya Jammeh of intimidating the media and clamping down on press freedom. And privately, many journalists suspect that thugs with connections to his government may have been responsible for the killing.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists noted in an open letter to Jammeh that Hydara's death and the recent enactment of draconian new press laws "come against the background of violent attacks against independent journalists and media outlets in the Gambia."
Last April, unidentified gunmen burned down the printing press of another outspoken newspaper, The Independent, for the second time in six months. No-one has so far been arrested for that arson attack, nor for an earlier attempt to burn the newspaper's presses in October 2003.
Hydara, 58, wrote strongly worded editorials in The Point critical of the new press laws, which were passed by parliament last week.
One makes all press offences, including libel, punishable by imprisonment of up to six months for a first offence and three years for repeat offenders.
The other law makes operating licences for private newspapers and radio stations five times as expensive as before. Owners now have to sign a bond worth 500,000 dalasis (US$ 17,000), and use their homes as collateral.
Leonard Vincent, head of the Africa service of the France-based media watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), said Hydara was the "impetus" behind an open letter sent by RSF to President Jammeh, urging him not to sign the two bills into law.
He was murdered a day after the RSF letter was despatched to the Gambian leader, a former army lieutenant who came to power in a 1994 coup.
Besides editing The Point, Hydara was the Gambia correspondent of the French news agency AFP and RSF's local man in Banjul.

I hope the opposition leaders take a cue from the civil display of the press. Civil dis-obedience should be part of their plans. Jammeh is not the kind that will relinguish power to the people. The coalition should therefore make contingency plans to call their supporters to take to the streets in the event that Jammeh refuse to accept defeat come 2006. The notion of "masalah" has to stop or the tyranny that is Yaya's reign will continue to feast on the carcass of our economy.

Can't take it no more...

"But the tongues are wagging and the fingers are pointing. And if you do not know what the tongues are saying and where the fingers are pointing at, I will say it here. People are saying agents of the state killed Deyda. Ask them why and they will tell you because he writes critical things about the government in his newspaper."... Sheriff Bojang writting in the daily observer.

Sheriff happens to be a talented writer but un-principled journalist. That is my "bureh-ak- butut" (two cents) on him. However his piece on the murder of Deyda leaves the reader with the impression that he is finally coming to the fact that the thugs ruling that nation has no respect for the lives and properties of Gambians... The last sentence of the last paragraph in the piece sums his agony.. thus "What happened on Thursday night is too much. It must be stopped! " What he fails to mention is that so much of these tragic events has been happening since November of 1994. Remember Basiru Barrow, Gibril Sey, Ousman Koro Ceesay,Momodou Manneh (nyancho) and et all. They got their lives snuffed out by the same murderous state machinery.

Cry Blood

"My army and [members of] my armed forces are professionals and the whole world knows that. The nature of the offence shows that if it were done by my armed forces, there is no soldier in my army who will shoot at a human being twice and miss and you expect that individual to live.”...... Those were the words of Yaya Jammeh during the 2004 legal year celebrations when asked about the assasination attempt on Lawyer Ousman Sillah.

Then this shocking news culled from the BBC...

Leading Gambian editor shot dead

One of The Gambia's leading journalists was shot dead as he drove home from work shortly after midnight.

Deyda Hydara, 58, editor of The Point newspaper and correspondent for the AFP news agency was shot three times in the head, his colleague said.

He was sharply critical of a tough new press law which was passed this week.

The private media has complained that the government is trying to muzzle it. In April, the printing press of another paper were burnt down.

The Independent accused state security agents of being behind the attack - a charge denied by the authorities.

The police say they have opened an investigation into the killing, in which two women travelling in Mr Hydara's car were also injured.

"He has been very critical of the government and very vocal in opposition to these repressive laws but that does not mean that he, of all people, should have been the target of an assassin's bullet," said the head of the Gambian Press Union, Demba Ali Diao.

The law was passed on Tuesday. It provides for jail terms for those found guilty of libel or sedition and the seizure of the homes of the editors of libellous newspapers.

The government said the law was needed to make journalists more responsible.

This is the kind of atrocities I was worried about in a posting I made in august titled sword vs the pen. See archives.

If a leader can threaten journalist with phrases like six feet deep and one of them end up shot in cold blood, it shouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the perpetrators will never be brought to justice...

Ya Soffie in an emotional posting on the Gpost sums up this tragedy thus.....

Not a single murder have ever been investigated, none!  Yaya came out 
plainly and told us that those in the opposition will not live to 
witness the next elections.  We are continuing the count.  The only language 
he understands is the one he speaks and it is about time we wise up to 
that and show him that we too can speak his language.  His people did 
not miss this time.  But folks, we know what Jammeh is like, what are we 
like?  What does this say about us?  Is it our complacency that's 
allowing the killing of fine people like Deyda and the attempts on others?

That is Gambia for you folks....

Policing Speech

The hallmarks of any free society is the rights of its citizenry to free expression. Freedom of speech as enshrined in most constitutions (Gambia no exception) is to guarantee the right of dissenters to express their outrage without fear of been arrested, tortured, imprisoned or denied a livelihood.

Free speech exists precisely to protect the most offensive and controversial speech from government suppression. The best way to counter obnoxious speech is with more speech. Persuasion, not coercion, is the solution.

Reading this observer story makes me wonder if the police in Gambia have no better thing to do but harrass, detain, and prosecute Gambians for calling Yaya foolish... Abhorent crimes like the murder of Ousman Koro Ceesay remains unsolve after a decade. But asking "faa police" to solve those issues will hinder their most important job.... that is policing the free speech rights of Gambians. Least you forget Mansa Yaya is not to be spoken ill off. Chei...

Thought Provoking

''Right now there are 22 active conflicts across the globe in which Muslims are involved. Most Muslims have not even heard of most of them because those conflicts do not provide excuses for fomenting hatred against the United States. Next time you hear someone say the US was in trouble in the Muslim world because of Israel, remember that things may not be that simple." - Amir Taheri, in his latest column, "What If It's Not Israel They Loathe?"

The Butterfly Effect is a concept that comes out of Chaos Theory. The term is attributed to a meteorologist, Edward Lorenz, who was studying the major impacts/changes of weather based upon very tiny perturbations in the initial conditions. The term Butterfly Effect comes from a paper he wrote in the early 1970's titled "Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas?"

Since Dubya's re-election I have been thinking about the Butterfly effect and Linda Tripp. In my view she is one of the butterflies in a very convoluted and tenuously weak chain that has resulted in the world we live in today.

Looking backward, Bush was re-elected,from the exit polling information, based upon people voting on "moral issues". Despite the fact that he has been a complete disaster as a CEO, Commander in Chief, and Leader of the Free World, we put him back in office because, to many people, right or wrong, he represents a more moral choice than what the Democrats offered... Flip flop Johnny I voted for it before I vote against it Kerry. Why is that?

Well, we know why that is. Everybody's favorite Democrat, Bill Clinton, was caught with his pants down in the Whitehouse having "sexual relations with THAT WOMAN", Monica Lewinsky. Why do we know that? Because Monica told her good friend Linda Tripp about her affair, Linda Tripp told the RNC, and the rest is history.

So the question goes, what if there was no Linda Tripp? Or what if Linda Tripp was not a Republican spy, but a true friend to Monica. The odds are that we would never have known about Monica Lewinsky, Clinton would never have faced Articles of Impeachment, and Gore would have won in a Landslide in 2000.

There are other "butterflies" in the chain leading to Bush's re-election (e.g. the person who invented the aptly-named Butterfly Ballot in Florida), but Linda Tripp is the most obvious one.

Sopi (Change)

The 2006 elections in the Gambia are closer than we in the opposition tend to think.Talks underway amongst our leaders on the ground to form a coalition is very encouraging. In the same spirit, we shouldn't focus all attention on the tyranny that is Yaya Jammeh but the enablers he has around him in the national assembly should be held accountable as well.

Lower badibu happens to have one of those bench warmers in the person of Suku Singhateh. Suku doesn't have any clue what legislation is all about and yours truly is looking into the modalities necessary to oppose suku come 2006. I will keep my readers abreast of all developments in that front. I will be doing a research on the legal hurdles before I make any final decision. Stay tune and watch this space.

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