June 16, 2015
Pointe-Noire, Congo: The Prefect’s residence in Pointe-Noire is a modern palace with lots of bay windows in a spacious, well-kept park, shaded with palm trees and colored with flower-beds. Nobody lives there. The Prefect, like so many high-ranking civil-servants, managed to amass enough wealth to build himself his own private palace outside of town.
In the back left-side corner is a small walled-in compound which looks very much like the police station it once must have been, with its holding cells, but is now Radio-Congo’s Pointe-Noire station. It is a throwback to the early days of broadcasting. Read the rest of this entry »
June 1, 2015
Brazzaville, May 30, 2015. An estimated 100 thousand people in Congo-Brazzaville infected with the AIDS virus are at risk because they are not getting their medications, according to western diplomats and Congolese activists. Read the rest of this entry »
May 29, 2015
BRAZZAVILLE: Boris Iloy Ibara, the News Director of Télé Congo, the state run TV, has a spacious office in the heavily guarded and half empty five-story structure built by the Chinese and inaugurated just six years ago. Boris says if the opposition is absent from his programs, it is because they don’t have the money to pay for the slot. He admits his reporters will take anywhere from $100 to $2000 dollars from the politicians they cover to do the story. However, he denies he has orders to censor the opposition. Read the rest of this entry »
May 2, 2015
The United Nations denies it tried to cover up the sexual abuse of minors by French troops in the Central African Republic. The world body calls the allegations “highly offensive.” I can testify from my own personal experience in the Democratic Republic of Congo that the UN does hide the abuse of its blue helmets and others. Read the rest of this entry »
April 27, 2015
The debate in France this week centers on Islamophobia and is sparked by the publishing of two books. The first by Charb (1), one of the artists killed in the January 7 Charlie Hebdo attack and the second by a Journalist, Caroline Fourest(2).
Both reject attempts to stifle debate on Islam by labeling any who criticize the religion of Mohammed as “Islamophobes.” They write that in reality, the crusade against Islamaphobia is an attempt to weaken secularism; to put religion above the laws of the land. Read the rest of this entry »
April 18, 2015
France wants to cajole its radical muslim youth, offer them special high school and technical education in free housing centers with case workers constantly at their sides as Denmark is trying to do. In a country with over five million unemployed, a growing poverty rate and an income tax burden which weighs very heavily on the middle class, this is fodder for the National Front canons. Read the rest of this entry »
January 15, 2015
The man who got on a Parisian bus with me Wednesday was an Arab who had not shaven in four days. He had dark olive skin and kinky black hair and was visibly unbalanced: drugs? He sang to a popular tune “I’m going on Jihad. Won’t you come on Jihad with me too?” He risks five years in prison and a 75 thousand euro fine.
In the first six days after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, 54 people were charged with “apology for terrorism” under a tough law voted in the French parliament last November which can jail someone, if they express their “support for terrorism” on the electronic media: FaceBook, Twitter etc., to up to seven years and fine them 100 thousand euros .
France’s “war on terrorism” has begun. The new law allows the “apologists” to be brought before a judge as soon as they are arrested in a process called “comparution immediate”; that is without time to prepare a defense. It is a law for a time of war. Read the rest of this entry »
January 12, 2015
They came in their hundreds of thousands. Jews, Muslims (although fewer than hoped for), Christians and atheists: Students, workers, the unemployed and the bourgeoisie. They said “I am Charlie.” “I am Ahmed.” (the policeman executed at Charlie Hebdo). “I am a Jew.” Or, they just said nothing.
They were anarchists, communists and ultra nationalists, social democrats and conservatives. There were also islamophobes and anti-Semites. The one thing that united them all was their refusal to yield to fear and their desire to keep the freedom to think what they want and to be able to say it in public without facing obscurantist violence. This coming together of those who want the right to disagree with each is extraordinary. France, which gave us the enlightenment, 1789 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is still Une Grande Nation.
Read the rest of this entry »
January 8, 2015
Last night I was at Place de la République with many hundreds of others to express our anger at what THEY did to Charlie Hebdo. It was the only place to be.
Unfortunately, there were no Muslims at the protest. Sure, there were Muslim journalists there, but they were there as reporters, not Muslims. I saw only two older women with head-scarves obviously there to say they disagree with the Jihadist murderers. And as they were the only two, the cameras were all over them, which could give the impression Muslims were present.
When the US and Britain invaded Iraq, millions of people took to the streets and chanted “Not in my name!” Muslims in France have to do this now or the anger of ethnic French will be justified. Silence, under the present circumstances, is complicity.
However, there was a group there with banner and flags in a totally unacceptable attempt to take advantage of the hideous killings. The Union of Jewish Students in France, a pro-Israeli Lobby, complete with their star of David, was a sick attempt to give the killings a different color. What happened on January 7 has nothing to do with Palestinians’ struggle against the murderous apartheid regime Israel has imposed on the occupied territories.
March 25, 2013
The tourist guide got off the bus and greeted the group of chubby British women with “Shopping in Playa Blanca ? Shopping in Playa Blanca?” He could have said “doggy wanna bone?” and it would have been the same. I knew I had to see this.
Playa Blanca, a sprawling resort on the southern coast of Lanzarote, is everything native born artist César Manrique did not want for his waterless, volcanic island. Thanks to Manrique, the farthest east and the most arid of the Canary Islands escaped the mega hotels which defaced La Palma, Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Read the rest of this entry »