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I decided to write this article after receiving a surprising call from a longtime friend whom I have not spoken to for quite some time. Attempting to make up for lost time, we began our conversation by getting to know each other again, talking about our respective families, and how we were faring with life and work. Having discussed those personal issues, we immediately jumped on to another subject that is a passion: politics and the Gambian dilemma.

True to my friend's nature and intellect, he began to wonder about the Gambian people and their politicians. He asked, "Why is it that Gambian politicians and country are so oblivious to history?" I asked my friend what was he talking about. He began by offering an analysis of the October 2001, Gambian presidential elections, in which a dictator was elected over meaningful civilian politicians. Among several factors, he advanced the view that Gambian civilian politicians missed a golden opportunity by their failure to stick with a unifying strategy that would have dealt a blow to the soldier turncoat. He also spoke at length of his observations of the newly formed opposition alliance …NADD.

My friend's perspective seemed to be shared by many observers and analysts of Gambian politics. Their reading of the October 2001 election resonates with what occurred in September 0f 1996, when the country held its first elections under the regime of Yaya Jammeh. At that time, the civilian politicians had to confront a soldier turn coat, but failed to seize the opportunity by not working with one another, and providing a unified front, instead became their own worst enemy by pursuing their own selfish agendas, thus enabling Yaya to emerge victorious in the 1996 elections.

While there appears to exist similarities between the 1996 and 2001 elections (as far as opposition strategy is concerned), they are few and far between. True, in 1996, it was a soldier, and in 2001, a full-blown dictator - I believe my good friend and other analysts of Gambian politics either ignored or did not notice the enormous differences that were evident.
On closer examination, the argument for a unified front seemed much stronger in 2001 than it was in 1996. As a matter of fact, by 2001, public confidence in Yaya had eroded to an all-time low, his record on governance was dismal, the Gambian economy had taken a nose-dive, and Yaya had become a pariah whose standing in the international community was nil, given his horrific record on human rights.

In contrast to 2001, the dynamics operating in 1996 were very different. First and foremost, there was a situation of after coup euphoria. This euphoria produced an avalanche of forces that Gambians have never experienced before. With the removal of Jawara, there was not a common, identifiable politician that Gambians could associate with, thus creating a political vacuum that give birth to various competing forces and competing agendas.

Secondly, in the context of elections, peace and security considerations superseded all others as a determining factor in the decision-making process of the electorate. In an ironical twist of history, Gambians elected a soldier over a civilian. In a somewhat distorted thinking, Gambians judged that the soldier was well-positioned to provide needed peace and security to the country. The macho fa├žade displayed by Yaya is eventually contrasted to the docile nature of the main opposition leader… Ousainou Darbo.

Finally, One of the hard truths of the 2001 elections is that there existed too many political parties, with little or no real ideological or programmatic differences amongst them, with hindsight of what happened in 1996. All of the parties in their manifestoes expressed their commitment to the three pillars of democracy: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the rule of law. The only noticeable difference lay in the personalities who ran the party.

This brings us to a sober realization and thus the need and formation of an alliance. The ideals of the alliance and our reservations.

Reading the Memorandum of understanding signed by the parties that constitute NADD, I was left with the impression that the signatories to this historic document have come to grasp the fact that:

1. They need to pull their merger resources together to challenge a behemoth that is APRC.
2. Elections do not guarantee democracy.
3. Democracy is a complex process of institution building, development of a liberal political culture and traditions, an uninhibited growth of free speech, an unfettered development of the press, and respect for not only the rule, but the due process of law. In addition, there are others who have argued that a successful democracy must have a stable "middle class," strong civil institutions and a literate population. A strong middle-class, they argue, would be well placed to govern and manage civil institutions, and also pay taxes. Whereas a literate population would be educated enough about the issues, and could form alliances based on interests.

Clearly the theories of governance and adherence to freedom as ascribed to in the MOU are principled and heart warming. So what you may ask is NADD missing? (Playing the devil’s advocate here). Two words… A backbone and a fearless leader. They can’t let the ruling government pretend to be the sole bearers of truths or claim to have monopoly over ideas, security and the social well being of the electorate. They need to get out there and let the electorate know that a country drowning in debt and in need of healing cannot afford to re-elect the very people responsible for that predicament.

Yeah … the Gambian electorate as Cherno Baba espouses in this article, has to take some of the blame. However in a population with as high an illiteracy rate as the Gambia, I will surmise that the role of the opposition in putting forward an aggressive and popular leader with broad appeal and the capacity to transcend ethnic, regional, religious, or professional lines will be the defining factor come 2006.

Be careful

“Can you tell me to have confidence in that type of judgement. In the kingdom of the blind, a one eyed man is a king. Unfortunately this is the system we have to deal with but we are working towards a better system. But even this judgement is not good for Ousainou Darboe himself because he can also get killed and nothing will come out of it,” said Jammeh in an interview.

You have been warned Ousainou and that goes for the rest of NADD's leadership. If you guys think for a second that Yaya Jammeh will play fair, this should be a heads up. From now on all bets are off. Politics is brutal and African politics can be deadly. Yaya Jammeh is implicit in the brutal murder of Gambians before ... does the name Deyda Hydara ring any bells? He is going to try to harm one or all of NADD's leaders before this thing is over. Watch your backs and each others. And if I hear one of you (NADD leaders) calling on your supporters to be law abiding one more time I will bitch slap the shit out of that individual. Since when did they break the law? The only blatant law breaker in that nation is Yaya Jammeh. Resisting tyranny is not a crime.

Read Halifa's response to Yaya's ignorant rants... Courtesy of Foroyaa

As a Political Junkie, whenever there is a Congressional "Town Hall" meeting in my district, I take the opportunity to go. The Downing Street Memo is so tied to Karl Rove's Outing of an undercover CIA agent for pure, spiteful revenge, one can't sneeze without the other hiccupping.

So, on Saturday, a clear, blue, 90 degree day in Detroit, when I would have rather been elsewhere (like sitting in an air-conditioned room watching a re-run of good times), I crowded into the Wayne State University law school auditorium, to hear what representative John Conyers had to say about the DSM, Karl Rove's implication in the outing of CIA Agent Valerie Plame, and other stuff.

My first thought was that, although the theater was packed, and many were standing, more people should have been there to ask questions, and get information about what's going on inside the Beltway that you are not going to get from the likes of the MSM (or what's passing for the mainstream media these days). My second thought was me sitting there, fuming, at the apathy of my friends and colleagues, when I told them about this Town Hall Meeting.

" You should come with me to find out how the President has lied, manipulated evidence and events to facilitate attacking Iraq, and how he's now trying to cover it up", I said, with a catch in my voice.

"I'm not into that 'political' stuff. Leave me out of it", said a friend. But another good friend of mine who I will call K took me on the offer and the two of us brave the humid Michigan weather to listen and participate in “the political stuff” that the other friends derided.

I wept with the frustration that the "political" stuff are decisions being made in our name as American citizens, that are basically screwing up our communities, our very lives, the lives of our loved ones; our children. The "political" stuff is resulting in one party government, fascist dictatorship in a democratic land, and the rich getter richer on the backs of, and at the expense of, the poor, working class and downtrodden.

Despite my friends' apathy, K and I went to spend our day on “Downing Street”, anyway. One day, I hope he will thank us for it, but I won't hold my breath. You never know what you have until it's gone, and thanks to Bush, it may be gone sooner than you think, if this Administration is not stopped.

After getting through with the parking nightmare (seven blocks away from the theater and hoping our cars were not in a tow-away zone), we made it to the auditorium. The place was full to capacity. My friend and I had to make do by sitting on the floor. Yeah …it is that many people out there but I wish for more. I was encouraged by many who came, and said that they'd invited friends to attend and got virtually the same responses I did. So, we all bonded in solidarity, Jew and Gentile, African-American, Latino, White, Asian - wealthy and just-getting-by; children, and the elderly, who still have the wisdom to pass on to those of us who think we know everything. We united on common ground - the right to know the truth, and the right to hold our elected officials accountable for what they are doing in our name.

For every one of my "apathetic" friends who aren't into "political stuff" but will some day be screaming about the loss of social benefits as a result of the government's robbing of Peter to pay Paul, about the loss of civil liberties, K and I will continue to stand in your stead, because we want our country back.

July 22nd

On this the eleventh anniversary of a military dictatorship in the Gambia, I produced below Ebou colly's take on how it came to be. His analysis of how an ignoramus like Yaya alphonse took our nation hostage. Herewith I present Ebou Colly's take first published on the Gambia-L mailing list on April 22nd 2001:

COUP IN GAMBIA ONE

A British military officer I once met in San Remo Italy asked me to put the reason why there was a coup in The Gambia in two words. "Command breakdown and government complacency," I gave it to him in five. The British officer who was very interested in the military history of The Gambia had been for the weeks we worked together curiously firing me all sorts of questions about what made it possible for the junior officers of the GNA to seized power in 1994. The story I explained to that gentleman is the one I wish to share with the G-L readers in this series entitled COUP IN GAMBIA. It is a story I intend to tell in the simplest form based on my personal experience of the coup in The Gambia on the 22nd July 1994, the accidental role I played in it and most important of all the facts according to what exactly happened. I may also in this exercise attempt to Periodically express my views or opinion about the special situations encountered. Hearing about the general misconception developed by Gambians and non-Gambians alike, in the country or outside about the 1994 coup, coupled with the absolute silence from those who actually know the facts, compounded by mainly the lies Yaya and his lackeys have been peddling about the event, the coup in the final analysis has now been reduced to one shameless BIG lie.

Those who should have been termed the actual heroes in that mutinous and criminal operation have long since been killed or reduced to subservient nonentities while the cowards who should have been permanently locked up behinds bars for their traitorous actions stole the center stage, supported by intellectual criminals and defended by armed bandits. However regardless of how strong or deep they may anchor their vessel of deceit in the divine sea of life, the wind of truth will someday blow away these floating evil doers to the shore of reality where the crew will be exposed in their naked images. Those thinking that they could disguise themselves in this doom-bound vessel enjoying the loot of the bloodthirsty pirates, encouraging them to shed more blood for bigger treasure and then disappearing unnoticed at the final day of reckoning ought to think twice about that ungodly fate. If Gambians should think that they could get away with killing innocent armless children for anything in this world and then turn it into a political issue, manipulating the laws to exonerate the guilty murderers, some of them being so sick to make it a laughing matter in the heart of the nation then Gambians could as well exempt the existence of god and the dynamic laws of nature from life.

These knuckleheads cannot learn from the common saying that no condition is constant except change itself. Lets remember Samuel Doe, Emperor Bukasa, Mengistu Haili Mariam, Edi Amin and Mobutu with their doomed followers. These leaders blatantly flouted all kinds of rules, secular and divine, with powers far greater than the ordinary or with powers which Yayas will never dream to acquire in this world; leaders who thought they could get away with any crimes, lies and deceit perpetrated towards their innocent subjects until the day of divine intervention dawned on them. Days that come without warning and often when things are at their sweetest. Days when the predators are caught happily licking their blood-dripping fingers from devouring the flesh of their unfortunate preys. Day that found them in festive moods when they the least suspected that the judgement day is indeed here. That day in the Gambia will soon come. The day Yaya and his callous follows will know that children in the kingdom of god are after all real angels and that no hoodlum would get away with killing them out of share madness. Call it the big time day of reckoning. Having said that, I will now turn to my new topic, thanks to loony Paul.

Evidently, if Gambians had developed the special tradition of recording and referring to their history as time and events unfold before us from period to another, we would have realized that the same situation that led to the abortive coup of 1981 more or less recurred in 1994. And perhaps that would have helped in averting the 1994 calamity. For instance by the time Kukoi lured the Field Force into his nightmarish coup in 1981, it could be remembered that there was a total breakdown of command and control in Depot, Fajara Barracks. The late Eku Mahony was strangely shot and killed by the late constable Mustapha Danso the previous year 1980; also the late Commander Bojang was suspected of complicity in what was thought to be a deadly factional conflict among their subordinates leading to one of his me killing his command counterpart. Bojang was retired or weeded from the force but had refused to vacate his official residence when asked to do so by government. The atmosphere was as a result charged with heavy gossip of a coup planning at the depot, yet government by its actions showed little concern about the potential explosion facing the nation. Nothing was more important at that critical time in government's agenda than the security crisis in the Depot that required immediate and total attention. Whether there was even a national security crisis management organ in the country for such unexpected emergencies was another thing we may never know. However if there was one, I don't think it was official or effective or even known to the Gambians.

Historians may one day have to help us with this one. Anyway I still think that the government was rather complacent with the situation until Kukoi stuck, surprised and shocked the whole world. A civilian taking command of the county's major security force using its personnel in a coup attempt was unimaginable and disgraceful. Thank god there was foreign intervention to stop Kukoi; otherwise the crisis that had erupted could have pretty well degenerated into full-blown civil war. And I still firmly believe that what The Gambia escaped in Kukoi 's failure in 1981 was the exact leadership we got in Yaya's success in 1994. In other words, I think Kukoi in 1981 was going to be what we got in Yaya in 1994. But it was still possible that Kukoi might have been a little more genuine. Nothing could be like Yaya. Another critical factor often neglected but very important in command stability but was and is still lacking in The Gambia's security institutions is the personality and caliber of persons recruited and entrusted with the defense of the nation. The westerners that introduced modern military concepts in The Gambia built their own forces from men and women committed to the fundamental course of defending their national sovereignty because of the stake they have in the society. They are generally well cultured, properly educated and tested to meet the set standards; they have self-esteem and definitely understand that the country equally belong to them in the very way it belongs to any president. None of these virtues prevailed in the Field Force where the service men were literally social outcasts in terms of origin, education, social status, family background and self-esteem. So instead of having fine warriors prepared to lay their lives for the defense of their nation, we ended up grooming angry jealous armed men full of hate and destructive tendencies ready to follow any deviant or criminal into a path of national destruction. Rebellious soldiers in uniform or civilian bandits, whose ultimate target is to destroy rather than construct, often are the organizers of coups.

The Field Force behind Kukoi was without doubt armed men madly inclined to help destroy The Gambia they had no stake in building or protecting. A similar situation was re-created in the GNA in 1994. There was a command break down when the late General Abubacarr Dada was sent a successor from Nigeria Colonel Gwadebeh to command the Gambia Army and the former refused to hand over the seat to the latter. That conflict was what actually undermined all the credibility and respects the GNA officers had for their Nigerian mentors. The Nigerians who came and started an impressive and very good work in the beginning, making all of us to believe that their army and serving men were superior to us in every way of a military establishment suddenly started acting like desperate men ready to go after each others jugular veins in order to stay in The Gambia rather than go back home. Everything they taught us about ethical standards, moral values, esprit de corps, decency, integrity and military courage were violated one after the order by the feuding commanders and their divided allies with no regards to its effect on those of us looking up to them as role models. The situation was so hopeless that in the end one could sense the irreparable damage the Nigerians had done to their command and control powers over the GNA officers. Even if there had been no coup, the Nigerians would not have had it the easy way they did with the GNA officers before. The actual problem started around March or April 1994 when the Point News paper (always the Point) quoted a Nigerian newspaper that had published an identified successor for General Dada. It was stated that the late General Sani Abacha had already chosen the man. Dada was very furious about the Point's publication demanding that government should punish the Point publishers for the wrong information they published. By General Dada who was appointed by General Babangida when the latter was still in power, his contract made appointment permanent commander of the GNA. Furthermore, he had believed that the men he brought along to run the Gambia Army, about eighty of them, were directly under his charge, meaning that he could change or even recommend their dismissal whenever he wanted. But for him, he was untouchable and should only leave the Gambia Army after the Nigeria-Gambia contract to train the GNA was over. It was a two-year contract that should have been completed in 1994, although the Nigerians had succeeded in convincing the government that the officers in the army were too incompetent to be handed over the command after two years only. It was another story most of us could not understand. Anyhow when government put it to Dada that they were not aware of any successor identified in Nigeria but that they could not do anything to the Point Publishers either because they were private or committed nothing illegally, Dada relented but would not forget. In May, the official letter from Nigeria for the replacement of General Dada by Colonel Gwadebeh arrived at the ministry of defense. Dada could not understand it and expected the Gambia government to stand by his side and disallow the colonel from replacing him. But government made it clear to him that the changes effected from Nigeria was beyond their means to alter. Dada felt betrayed by the government for their indifference to his problem. He also realized that his most trusted men brought to the Gambia to help him, men he painstakingly picked from the Nigerian armed forces and provided them with pay ten or more times than their earnings at home had also shifted their loyalty to the new commander.

Colonel Gwadebe came anyway. Devastated altogether, Dada partially accepted defeat but insisted that he would not leave the Gambia until he had audience with former President Jawara. That was more or less refusing to hand over to Gwadebe unless he was allowed to meet the president. Government officials especially at the ministry of defense felt Dada should not be allowed to meet the president when the vice president who was the minister of defense was available. Dada would not settle for anything other than what he wanted-meet the president. Gwadebe on the other hand was lodged at Kairaba Hotel waiting for Dada to hand over before he could assume the command position. That is standard army procedure. One could not succeed another person under normal circumstances without a formal handing and taking over process completed. By the middle of May however, it was clear to all GNA officers and most other ranks that the Nigerian command fabric had crumbled and the government did not seem to take its danger very seriously. Like in the past, it should have been the most important issue in the government national agenda, needing immediate and total attention. But I think Sir Dawda at the heat of things took his annual leave and left for Britain to spend about a month there. Dada decided to wait for his return. There was no serious commander anymore. In the mean time however, the Nigerians, were still trying to make things appear as much normal as they could make the situation look in the army.

An exercise was organized at Kudang area, code named operation "Nying Doekuo". The whole army was involved in an exercise of tactical planning and operation of various combat missions.
It was there that the junior officers first met to discuss the need to get rid of the Nigerians from the country. Yes it was all about organizing a demonstration against the Nigerians to leave and go back home. Those present at that meeting were the late Lieutenant Basiru Barrow, Captain Alagie Kanteh (second lieutenant then), Captain Alpha Kinteh (second lieutenant then) Captain Edward Singhateh (second lieutenant then) and Captain Sana Sabally (second lieutenant then). Anyway before the meeting ended, Alagie Kanteh came up with the proposal of a coup
instead of a demonstration. They all agreed, electing Barrow to be the leader. Both Kanteh and Singhateh had told this story to several soldiers after the coup. Captain Singhateh in fact put it to all the men present at state house on the 22nd July that these five men were the actual planners of the coup and that even Yaya and Sadibou Haidara were not part of it, but were invited to join them when three of the original conspirators withdrew their membership at the last minutes. These three were Barrow, Kanteh and Kinteh. According to the original plan, former president Jawara was to be arrested with his cabinet ministers at Yundum Airport on the day he was to return from his leave in England. Army officers of the rank of captain and above were all to be arrested and executed by firing squad together with all government ministers. That may have been the reason why the first team cracked. Barrow, Kinteh and Kanteh perhaps were not prepared to go that extreme. Anyway according to Barrow who explained himself after Singhateh accused the three of them of betraying the course, he had given his reason of withdrawal as being inadequate timing. Barrow said he wanted more time for better planning preferably January 1995 instead of July 1994.

However the bottom line is that Edward Singhateh and Sana Sabally actually spearheaded the coup from start to end. They were also the operational leaders, Sana taking Bravo Company from Captain Sonko who was forced to join Charlie Company and Singhateh taking the leadership of that unit-Charlie Company. Colonel Badjie was the company commander of Charlie Company, although when they took it from him they spared him the trauma and ordeal they subjected Captain Sonko in throughout the operation. Yaya did not mean much to them, the very naivete in Sana and Singhateh that allowed Jammeh to join them and eventually stole the show from their hands They probably felt that Jammeh the Gendarmerie officer entrusted by the Nigerians to police the army as the head of the military police wing was nothing but a boastful wimp. Jammeh was never seen firing a shot as a soldier, never seen running in any exercise, was below average in written and verbal communication, did not know how to write or interpret operation orders and lacked everything that characterized a true officer or soldier. All that could be associate with Yaya in uniform was the pistol he always carried (and most certainly could not use it properly) and his endurance to carry various horns, roots cowries and animal skins all over his body in the name of "jujus". (I think I once explained to you that Yaya shamelessly decorated himself at McCarthy Square Banjul with ECOMOG medals as if he had served in Liberia's peacekeeping mission. Some of us startled by the ceremony thought the joke was accepting the medal as an honorary award until he appeared on GAMTV in Kaninlai explaining to some school children his peacekeeping role in Liberia. The guy is so sick in fabricating lies that sometimes I see his metal maturity as that of a six-year old.) The fact that he was the head of the military police and the young officers planned the coup without serious regards to his unit or presence was indicative of how much they disrespected him. It was a matter of telling him to join them or get his butt whipped. He knew better. I don't know what he had lied to the Nigerians to accept his transfer from the Gendemarie to the GNA in 1992, but they must have selected the wrong person to police the army for them. It was a major mistake from Dada.

However that same disrespect they had for Yaya was what led Sana and Singhateh to vote him as their leader on the 24th July 1994 in the presence of Captain Mamat Cham. Again they thought he could be put there as a ceremonial leader while they run the show in the background. As for Sana, up the day he was framed and bundled up to jail with Haidara, he had treated Yaya with contempt and less importance. But with tact and treachery, the rule of the game at the time, Yaya played the two heavy weights against each other allying with Edward to destroy Sana and Haidara. That catapulted Edward from the number four positions to the vice-chairman's seat. He did not know that the master of treachery was on his tail next. I hope my readers are also evaluating the personalities in the drama. While doing so please consider the Field Force and the characters in the Depot- men with low self-esteem, dehumanized by poverty and greed and transformed into treacherous and destructiveness souls. Anyway by the time the transition was over, Yaya had disintegrated the foundation of the original coup team except in the case of Singhateh. But Singhateh's turn was in the making. It was Landing Sanneh and the late Almamo Manneh who one day challenged Edward at the state house on Yaya's orders to shoot him if he tried to enter the building again armed. The vice chairman could not understand it but soon realized that it was the final signal to show him that the game of playing equals with Yaya was over. He knew better. Before long the high-speed champion of the coup was reduced to a nodding follower of Yaya endorsing his lies, ignoring his faults, treating him like the saint who led them, the lost souls, into the coup crusade and all what not. Almamo Manneh is now lying six feet deep thanks to Yaya. Landing Sanneh is still in jail waiting to be tried for almost a year now after being accused of coup attempt with Almamo Manneh. The current survivors are ordinary followers, praise singers and boot-lickers sometimes claiming to be the warriors in 1994. Sir Dawda Jawara's closest bodyguards like Musa Jammeh are today Yaya's worst hit men. The vicious circle of dogs eating dogs continueto prevail. That's coup in the Gambia parts one.

Ebou Colly

Today, I want to make a detour from the events of the day to look at the insidious, long-term issue of suburban racism. Today's Detroit Free Press features a series of disturbing, high profile incidents that have recently taken place, two of which occurred very close to where I live.

According to court records, days after the Dosters bought the home,
someone broke a window and poured gasoline through it. Much of the home was
damaged. "This fire was just a part of a months-long campaign to drive the
Dosters out of the neighborhood," said federal prosecutors in a report. The
Dosters spent thousands of dollars to clean up the home and redecorate it. In
October 2002, someone scrawled "KKK" on the side of their home.
And in the months following, investigators and the Dosters said, the pattern continued. Kids taunted Lori Doster with racial slurs, and someone tore up their
tires. The harassment took a psychological toll. Reginald Doster had trouble
sleeping. The couple's daughter, who was 9 at the time of the arson attack, was
afraid to sleep in her bedroom, which faced the back of the house. And their
14-year-old son, who had been an honor student, saw his grades slip.


This has not been a good year for racial harmony.
The Taylor case is one of a string of recent incidents in which black people
are being greeted with racial violence after they move into neighborhoods with
no or few African Americans.

For those of you not familiar with the Detroit area, we hold the dubious distinction of being one of the most segregated metropolitan areas in the country. While demographics are changing, we are still primarily polarized between African-American and white communities, with Detroit holding an 83 percent African-American population and the suburbs almost the complete reverse. However, with the worsening conditions within the city, more and more Detroit residents are trying to make their way out, though not always finding welcoming neighbors.

With Detroit's black population increasingly leaving the city for the
suburbs, it's a problem some fear may continue. And it comes at a time when the
issue of minorities moving in next door has become widely debated.


Some of the neighbors are not so hostile, though listening to them, they don't sound very helpful, either.

I hear people talking, you hear people saying" a racial slur, said
Audrey Emery, 67, who is white and lives a couple of houses down from the
Dosters. "My feeling is I have nothing against blacks ... I know a lot of black
people. We're like brothers and sisters."


What I am wondering is why she doesn’t proclaim "her feeling" to the neighborhood bigots when she heard them say such blatant racist things. Is there something else in her heart? Would she ever invite someone of another race into her own home?

I pick on the Detroit area because I live here, and that is where the story is based. However, I know we face this problem throughout the country. And this is why Supreme Court appointments are so important. We need to be very careful and VERY thorough when we examine the President's appointment. The next judge could decide whether discrimination and racial intimidation becomes entrenched without any legal recourse.

Coward

How would you characterize someone who steps over the line of fairness, of decency and perhaps of the law, all for the sake of political revenge?

What do you say of a powerful individual whose actions result in the waste of large sums of public money and oblige other persons and organizations to engage teams of lawyers to defend themselves, when that individual could have ended the matter with a few honest words?

What term would you choose to describe a man who would stand silent, letting others be put through an inquisition or even be sent to jail as a result of his own vindictive misbehavior?

This is the question I have been asking myself since Karl Rove’s lawyer confirmed that he did spoke to reporters about Valerie Plame. The deliberate unmasking of a covert agent can be a felony. Allegedly, however, Rove managed to identify the operative to Cooper and perhaps Novak, Miller and others without speaking either her maiden or her married name.

A tricky bit of footwork there, huh.

So far, the pain of the process Rove is alleged to have set in motion has fallen entirely on others. So how might one describe him?

I have tried without success to find a term in the criminal lexicon for one who stands silently by while another bears the consequences of one’s own actions... Excuse me I am just a techie. Legal minds fill in the void.

With skillful lawyering and his exalted political connections at the very top, it’s unlikely he’ll wind up being called a felon.

The word I would favor is coward.


You must read the whole story. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's Department of Children and Families was convicted of "institutional neglect" that led to the near beating death of the then-2-year-old Marissa Amora at the hands of her known-to-be-abusive guardians. A jury awards her $35 million for damages and future health care costs. So now Bush is trying to have the entire award thrown out (not reduced, eliminated!) so the now-6-year-old will end up with no way to afford her lifelong medical care. Read it all; here's a taste to tide you over:

If Marissa were, say, a nice white woman in a vegetative state
whose case had been taken up by powerful financial and political interests then
ballyhooed into a national media carnival, then doubtless Jeb would even now be
dabbing his eyes as he knelt for a photo-op at her bedside. But because Marissa is "nobody" -- one of the poor, the powerless, the "insulted and injured," in Dostoevsky's phrase -- she can be flushed down the toilet and no one will notice. For the aim of Bush's legal maneuvering is clear: he wants to "run out the clock" on Marissa, litigating the case quite literally to death, until her family sinks beneath the overwhelming financial and physical burden of keeping her alive and at some point her makeshift, overstrained support system suffers the inevitablebreakdown.


What do you expect from the grandsons of Nazi war profiteer Prescott Bush? (Whoops, I said the "N" word!).

How much more will it take for the Christian people of America who fought so hard to keep Terri Schiavo alive to wake up and demand the same for this Marissa? The Bush Dynasty is only using them any way. They appropriate the language and feel-good sentiment of their religion to herd them to the polls, never truly believing a word of the beatitudes they spout. They push all your god / guns / gays / abortion / flag / immigrants buttons and you respond as reliably as a Puddle dog. You keep supporting them, hoping for the integrity and morality you claimed you want for America, only to be constantly given more death, more war, more poverty, more illness, more corporate crime, more ethics violations, more congressional corruption, more government debt, more trade imbalance, more hatred from the world, and more perversions of justice like this poor Marissa Amora.

What Would Jesus Do? It's hard for me to say whether Jesus is a Republican or Democrat; He's bigger than that. But He sure as hell is not a Bush supporter.

The Supreme Court on Thursday declared all four seats of the Opposition National Assembly Members vacant. The court also asked the Independent Electoral
Commission to carry out its constitutional responsibility to conduct by elections in the four respective constituencies, namely Serrekunda Central, Wuli West, Uppers Saloum and Jarra West.
There you have it folks… the mercenary judges have ruled. This is not a surprise to most observers of Gambian politics. The judiciary is for the take…. Bought and owned by Yaya Jammeh…. Read the rest of the story from Foroyaa newspaper

Well-meaning activists like Bono have pressured the West into giving billions more to Africa. But will they hold the kleptocrats in charge of these nations accountable? Western generosity alone in my humble opinion will not be enough to save the continent.

The problem with Africa lies in its fractious politics, combined with large level of state control of the economy. Once you get politicians into the mix, corruption soon follows. Once the entire state has a say, there are winners and losers. And this is what Bono and et el need to focus a lot of energy on...making sure the people whose suffering they are trying to alleviate gets the benefits of the debt relief. Pressure the lootocrats to invest these money in education.

Until Africa makes a commitment to educate all of it's citizens for free, most aid programs and democracy movements will fail. Education is critical to the growth of Africa, more than any other single factor. You can only feed the ignorant. You can teach the educated to feed themselves. Africa's problems are less money than who gets the money. And in many cases, a corrupt elite controls the cash and manipulates the poor.

Aid without accountability will only end up in Zurich. It won't make any difference in the life of a kid wrestling on the sandy streets of Badibu Saba.

Governance

Governance, some one once opined is the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). Good governance is …fill in the blank folks.

In Africa, the term "good governance" was pushed by the World Bank when it was implementing its Structural Adjustment Programs. Therefore, the grounds for insisting on "good governance" were pragmatic and "good governance" itself was conceived in technocratic terms. The danger of this was that it gave primacy to efficiency at the expense of democracy.

It is apparent that in the African context and in the present historical juncture what is at issue is not "good governance", technocratically- conceived, but social democracy. Social democracy does not preclude current definitions of "good governance" but instead emerges as a necessary condition for their realization. Otherwise, any references to civil society with regard to determinations of "good governance" become nothing else but an ideological ploy. There cannot be any "good governance" without a social and political mandate from the people or civil society. It is this broader definition, which should guide our enquiries into the problem of governance. The criteria used so far are derived from the classical definition of liberal democracy. While a great improvement on dictatorships, liberal democracy is not a universal panacea. It could be said that in Africa there are other social conditions to be met. Such as: read my post here.

Concerning civil society, there is a great temptation to adopt Euro centric definitions because they are prior. However this doesn’t tally with African reality. Outside the so-called modern sector in African societies there is what is called "traditional society" (tribal structure) that is often treated as a residual category. Yet, there is ample evidence to suggest that African traditional institutions have a great impact on modern institutions. This is particularly true of African bureaucracies. A phenomenon such as "nepotism" is a reflection of family or community ties that are traditionally defined. This has very serious implications for "good governance" as is externally (western) defined. Equally important are traditional notions of hierarchy and gender relations. The question, therefore, is: To what extent are external traditional forms of organization part of civil society and what are the implications for "good governance", as is prescribed by international agencies such as the World Bank? This is simply a warning that we should guard against adopting received notions uncritically. We need to reflect seriously on African reality and to come up with appropriate or socially informed concepts.















What a difference a day make... Londoners reveling July 6th on their selection to host the 2012 Olympic games awake to the tragedy of terrorist attacks today.

In the wake of the horror that is terrorism the Pope has this to say in a message sent to the arch bishop of westminister:

The pontiff describe the [London] attacks as "inhuman and
anti-Christian," in a telegram to the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal
Cormac Murphy O'Connor.

Okay, inhuman I'll buy. But "anti-Christian?" Please.

Right now, we're not even certain who coordinated these blasts. Of course, it looks like al-Queda or some similar group.

But how helpful is it, if this proves to be the case, to frame this as "anti-Christian?" Do we really want to fan a religious butchery crusade in the most stunned and painful hours after this attack? I can think of a dozen other ways to view this: anti-Western culture, anti-democracy, anti-imperialism, anti-capitalist, anti-invasion (feel free to add to the list).

It's bad enough to have the Catholic pontiff declaring this an anti-Christian event. God help us all if our evangelical wingnuts ( here in the US) get hold of this meme and froth up an anti-Muslim frenzy. (And yeah, don't tell me. I know. Of course, they will.)


I was just hoping that world leaders, including the pope, could express sorrow in terms of humanity in general for just one day. This really may not be, after all, about individual leaders' personal bugaboos.

This really irks me. Why on earth did he feel compelled to issue a statement such as this? Did he really think this would help calm or comfort a grieving world right now, by framing it immediately as a Muslim versus Christian event?

Rovegate?

When word broke that Karl Rove's name was the live hand grenade rolling around in Matt Cooper's notes, I immediately flashbacked to this almost Elizabethan scenario of palace intrigue and betrayal from the Wilderness. Its author, Michael C. Ruppert, author of Crossing the Rubicon. And the title? Coup D'Etat.

It weaves a spider's web connecting Valerie Plame, the Niger documents, George Tenet's resignation, Peak Oil, Ahmed Chalabi, and Bush and Cheney's decision to secure lawyers in the Plame inquiry.

It's worth rereading now that it looks as if we may be in for a Rovegate summer. Waxing philosophical, Ruppert writes:

"It is one of the greatest ironies of the Plame affair that the Bush
administration, spawned and nurtured by oil, might have committed suicide by
vindictively, cruelly and unthinkingly exacting personal retribution on an
intelligence officer who had committed no offense, and who was, quite possibly,
providing the administration with critical oil-related intelligence which the
President needed to manage our shaky economy and affairs of state for a while
longer to squeak through to re-election. In our opinion, nothing better
epitomizes the true nature of the Neocons."

"R&B icon Luther Vandross has died today at a New Jersey hospital. He was 54. The singer and songwriter had been ailing since suffering a stroke in April, 2003, that left him in a coma for nearly two months. His last album, "Dance with My Father," was released in June 2003 during the same week he emerged from his coma.

Born Luther Ronzoni Vandross on April 20, 1951, in New York, Vandross began his career in the 1970s writing and singing jingles for television commercials....Vandross co-wrote [David] Bowie's hit single, "Fame,".... LINK

USA Today is not part of my web surfing or newspaper reading routine. The only time I ever do read it is when I'm on the road, and even then I generally stick to the sports section. So it came as quite a shock to find this story at Editor & Publisher that McPaper's founder, Al Neuharth, has used the Op-Ed pages of his bright and shiny newspaper to call for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, "Sooner rather than later". He lamented:

"President Bush went on the air this week to pretend again that things are OK
inIraq. Shades of President Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam nearly 40 years ago.
Themost important similarity between Iraq and Vietnam is that both Democratic
andRepublican presidents lied to us in wartime. To refresh your memory, here's
howwe got out of the Vietnam quagmire:
    • Walter Cronkite, CBS-TV news anchor known as "the most trusted man in America," after a combat tour of Vietnam in 1968 declared, "There is no way this war can be justified any longer."
  • Johnson lamented to aides, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America."
    Heannounced he would not run for re-election.

. . . I'm convinced the best way to support our troops in Iraq is to bringthem
home. Sooner rather than later."

This marks what I think is a very significant occasion. For the first time, one of the movers and shakers who controls what we like to call the MSM(mainstream media) has come out and said that it's time to end this wretched exercise in neo-colonialism before it destroys our Armed Forces and tears the country apart.
It seems to have gotten almost no notice; since the talking heads on TV are focused on the resignation of lighten up Sandy baby. Brief as it is, it's awfully strong stuff that pulls no punches in calling Bush a liar. In addition to the passage quoted above, Neuharth also says the following:

Bush tried keeping the wool over our eyes again Tuesday on national TV
byrepeatedly tying Iraq to 9/11. That charge is as phony as his discredited
prewarclaim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction."
Strong stuff.
Neuharth is a decorated WWII vet. He's never done his country a better service than he's done with this piece.

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