>Zooming Through the News

>How can we possibly keep up with what is going on around the world? Minute by minute something is happening, something and someone is altered and affected. Things happen so rapidly so information sharing and social media networking has made it possible to get ever-changing news fast. 

CANADA
Hear about the online dating site for “ugly” people in Canada? No you didn’t read that wrong? Joe DeLuca created the dating site Ugly Schmucks (uglyschmucks.com) for those individuals who have difficulty finding “love” basically because of their looks. It’s initially free to sign-up and then it’s $13.00 per month to maintain a profile. You have the option of looking for a match in Canada or the U.S. 
Wow this is truly a doozy!  

NIGERIA
Another surprise was to find out yesterday that Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan declared his intention to run in elections next year, using an announcement on Facebook to steal the thunder from campaign launch of rival aspirant General Ibrahim Babangida. A presidency spokesman confirmed the Facebook page was genuine, while Information Minister Dora Akunyili said Jonathan had also told the cabinet of his intention to run.       

ZIMBABWE
Some good news or sad news depending how you want to look at it comes from Zimbabwe. Yesterday the Gukurahundi massacres that saw tens of thousands of innocent Zimbabweans killed by soldiers loyal to the Mugabe regime in the mid 1980s, were classified as “genocide” by Genocide Watch, an internationally recognized group based in Washington, DC. Professor Gregory Stanton, the group’s chairperson said in an interview with the Tererai Karimakwenda of SW Radio Africa, that the Mugabe regime has been trying to sweep this atrocious event under the rug for 30 years now but this classification now means the perpetrators can be prosecuted no matter how much time has passed. It appears that the rug is about to be lifted.

SW Radio also reported that next week during the 65th session of the United Nations in New York, the South African government will lobby for the removal of targeted sanctions against Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF officials. This was confirmed by the International Relations and Co-operation Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

ETHIOPIA
Great news out of Ethiopia in the field of education. Access to education in Ethiopia has improved considerably, with primary school enrollment increasing more than 500% between 1994 and 2009,  according to a new report from the independent British think tank, Overseas Development Institute. The publication is based on research funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

LAOS
Some mystical news to entertain you coming from Asia…Laos to be exact…the discovery of a two-horned “unicorn” called a saola, which resembles an African antelope. Unfortunately soon after researchers arrived it had died; most likely the result of being weakened while in captivity for so long.

CHILE
Did you hear about one of the trapped Chilean miners who is now a proud father of a baby girl named Esmerelda? I pray that gives him added hope to live and make it home to his family.

U.S.
Back here in the good ole’ US of A, Newt Gingrich is sinking even lower in his attacks against President Obama. This week he opened his mouth wide and said in an interview with the National Review Online, Web site of the prominent conservative magazine, “What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?” Gingrich asked . “That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.”

“This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president…I think he worked very hard at being a person who is normal, reasonable, moderate, bipartisan, transparent, accommodating — none of which was true,” Gingrich added. “In the Alinksy tradition, he was being the person he needed to be in order to achieve the position he needed to achieve. … He was authentically dishonest.” I wonder will good ole’ Newt will be his authentic self, showing his ‘true colors’ if and when he runs for President in 2012?

Have you seen CNN reporter, Randy Kaye’s footage on the 2007 Connecticut home invasion that left a mother and two daughters dead, and the husband badly beaten by the two hostage takers? A friend of mine sent me an email the other day but I was too busy to sit still to open the email. Today as I visited the CNN website the caption caught my attention. 

Even after the wife went to the bank and brought back $15,000 hoping it would be enough to convince the men to leave and not harm her and the rest of the family, the men still sexually assaulted the wife and one daughter before strangling and killing the mother; and eventually the two daughters. To make matters worse, there is a possibility that all three could have survived had the police acted upon the 911 call placed by the bank manager who was secretly alerted by the wife when she was withdrawing her money. Maybe you should see this for yourself:  http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/crime/2010/09/17/kaye.home.invasion.cnn

Well that is only a brief look at what’s been in the news around the world this week. Do you have any interesting, shocking, or beautiful news to share? Please do.

Until next time, continuing being a blessing and blessing others.

Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved

 

Sources
Unicorn http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2010/09/17/rare-asian-unicorn-captured/
Connecticut home invasion http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/crime/2010/09/17/kaye.home.invasion.cnn
Ugly Schmucks Online dating uglyschmucks.com 
Newt Gingrich interview  http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/246302/gingrich-obama-s-kenyan-anti-colonial-worldview-robert-costa
Ethiopia Education Rates http://allafrica.com/stories/201009160877.html
Nigeria Presidential Election- Goodluck Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/jonathangoodluck
Zimbabwe genocide http://www.swradioafrica.com/news160910/guku160910.htm  
Zimbabwe sanctions http://www.swradioafrica.com/news170910/salobby170910.htm
Chilean Miner  http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/

>The Real Question Concerning Ethiopia

>Today I read an article by Alemayehu G. Mariam who discussed democracy in Ethiopia and whether Ethiopians truly want a democratic society, know what that means to them and their future, and whether the western world is proactive in enforcing human rights while building dignity- or if it is all lip service. I have included excerpts from Mariam’s article below. I only have one word to describe it…DEEP!

Mariam wrote, “I am advised to accept the fact that US human rights rhetoric is primarily intended for international media consumption and to give moral support to the few human rights-minded Ethiopian elites while avoiding the scathing criticisms of the international human rights community for US inaction and hypocrisy. ‘That is realpolitik for you,’ said one of my erudite colleagues jokingly. ‘The US would rather blather about human rights violations to the African masses in the morning only to sit down for a seven-course meal with Africa’s murderers and butchers in the afternoon.'”

“…American policy makers should not be dismissive of ordinary Ethiopians. They should not misinterpret their silence for consent to be brutalised by dictatorship, ” wrote Mariam.

“…It has been argued and anonymously reported in the media that ‘Western diplomats’ in Addis Ababa believe that forceful US action on human rights could create ‘instability’ in the country….But the whole US ‘stability’ subterfuge to do nothing, absolutely nothing, about gross human rights violations in Ethiopia is eerily reminiscent of a shameful period in American history. The principal argument against the abolition of slavery in the US, the ultimate denial of human rights, was ‘stability.'”
                                                                             
Mariam’s correlation between what is and has been taking place in Ethiopia compared to the period of slavery (and post-Civil War) is poignant. 

So what are your thoughts? Read the entire article yourself and let me know.   http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/66294

Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman

Source: 
Do Ethiopians really need human rights?
Steel vices, clenched fists and closing walls (Part II)
Alemayehu G. Mariam
2010-07-29, Issue 492
http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/66294

>Sharing Pieces of Mother Africa with the Diaspora

>I have wanted to share information about various countries within Africa with the diaspora for some time now…today is the day…Let me share highlights on three countries (states), Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Africa.

ETHIOPIA

Part of my roots come from this country…on my mother’s side of the family. I look forward to the day when my feet touch ground here. My curiosity keeps this researching queen focused on the latest happenings throughout Ethiopia. I hope my findings encourage you to learn about this country and others throughout Mother Africa. 

We may hear stories about larger cities and villages within Ethiopia…many of us know the name Addis Ababa, but how many of us know about the village and people of Abreha we Atsebeha? The village of Abreha we Atsebeha, in northern Ethiopia, about 45km from Mekele, (capital of the Tigray region) is confident that in another 10 years they will not need food aid, according to their chairman, Gebremichael Giday. 

It took 10 years for this village to see a rise in the water table allowing them the chance to dig shallow wells for irrigation.  They learned the process with the help of Managing Environmental Resources to Enable Transitions to More Sustainable Livelihoods,  also known by the acronym, MERET, meaning “land” in Amharic, the local language. MERET is a program developed by the World Food Programme (WFP) and implemented by the government. 

According to IRIN humanitarian news and analysis, “MERET provided Giday with the opportunity to learn about cross-breeding techniques and obtain new seeds for quick-growing varieties of maize. Since then he has cross-bred mangoes with apples – a delicacy that fetches good money in the markets of the national capital, Addis Ababa – and has introduced many new vegetables to the villagers.” They have grown as a people whose only food source was cereal, and now they have an abundant supply of fruits, vegetables, and money to purchase necessities. 

There are more than 5 million Ethiopians in need of food aid each year, but many do not support the idea of accepting aid as a form of charity or welfare…they don’t want a handout they want a hand up…many argue that there is a risk of dependency on aid (as seen in many countries, especially the U.S.) and sources such as MERET would be viable if they were providing the watershed management resources through loans and not aid. 

Without funding MERET may not be sustainable. Many donors would rather give cash, some preferring to donate to another food-for-work program with a watershed management component,  Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP). In order for MERET to survive they will need to raise $21.3 million US (33,000mt of food) to provide food-for-work incentives to up to 610,000 people. In order to avoid a major pipeline break in 2010, WFP spokewoman Judith Schuler told IRIN that they “urgently need $12.6 million.” Schuler also responded to the concern of aid dependency by saying that participants are only on aid the first three months in the program where they get 3kg of maize per day; preventing possible aid dependency.

Can MERET be the solution for all of Ethiopia? Can participants learn farming trades in order to be self-sufficient enough where no aid is needed throughout the entire country? Is there potential to reverse the effects of the 1984 famine that killed more men, women, and children than our memory will allow us to recall? I will continue following the efforts of MERET, the growth of  Abreha we Atsebeha, and how the rest of Ethiopia responds to MERET’s progress.

SOUTH AFRICA

In addition to the World Cup taking place in South Africa, this country can be proud of launching an effort to educate all children through the 1Goal Campaign. BusinessDay reported today that 1Goal has partnered with President Jacob Zuma and Fifa president Sepp Blatter to make educating all of South Africa’s youth a top priority starting now; with the ultimate goal, that all children worldwide are enrolled in schools by the next World Cup in Brazil. July 7th 1Goal is holding a summit with world leaders to create a road map for this campaign.
 
The Global Campaign for Education, yesterday highlighted that 72-million children worldwide did not attend school, and half of them lived in Africa. Within South Africa, a new survey shows that 3.4% of the country’s children are not in school, and in the 16-18 age group the numbers show 9.8% of youth not in school, South African Democratic Teachers Union president Thobile Ntola said in an interview with BusinessDay. This campaign has the potential of bridging the gap between all nations of the world, so that all of our children are afforded the opportunity to live a fruitful life as educated producers in this competitive game we call life.  

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (also known as the DRC and the DR Congo)

I have been following this African state for many years, supporting efforts to fight crimes against women and children, and hoping that with added exposure the Democratic Republic of Congo  could one day be a nation of democracy, freedom, and opportunities of advancement for all. 

Today I read an article written by the Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi) that caught my attention, but sadly did not surprise me. It focused on the findings of Margot Wallstrom, the UN’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, who urged the Security Council to punish the perpetrators of rape against women in DR Congo. Wallstrom is reported as saying that the DRC is “rape capital of the world”. Evidence shows that during the fighting that took place last year, over 8,000 women were raped by men, and there are no laws protecting women and punishing rapists. 

In the eastern region, specifically in areas such as South Kivu, women are being raped oftentimes gang raped by armed men. Women are not safe walking on the streets, and now not safe within their homes as recently released reports have discovered that at least 60 percent of women were raped inside their homes by civilians. There are still numerous cases of violence especially against women by the army and militia; the five-year war may have officially ended on a grand scale in 2003, but the crimes against women and young girls are still taking place regularly.

The UN’s mission, Munoc is trying to help by escorting women to their homes, working with local authorities, and developing an early warning system. There has to be more that can be done. Are human lives not valuable enough resources to save? Women in the DR Congo have no rights; forget being second class citizens, the animals get more respect in this state and in others throughout Africa, and the rest of the world. What will it take to save these women from having to live in constant fear?  

IN CLOSING

Reflecting on the three countries I highlighted in this post do you see what connects them, what they have in common? The potential for positive change…growth…healing and prosperity…people who have fought, struggled, overcame, and survived because they have hope and faith in a better life. You have to believe that ‘better’ is possible, within grasp, and in our lifetime. Can you see it? Can you feel it? Do you believe?

                                         Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved. Natasha L. Foreman

Sources:
BusinessDay http://www.businessday.co.za/
Catholic Information Services for Africa (Nairobi) http://www.cisanewsafrica.org/
IRIN  http://www.irinnews.org/