News Releases

Netanyahu’s “Disastrous” Appeal and “Obsession with Jewish Identity”

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz just published the piece “Netanyahu’s Anti-Iran Campaign Doesn’t Consider Disastrous Effects on U.S. Jews.” The paper reports: “Netanyahu will be reaching out to the American Jewish community in a live webcast… Tuesday, reports said, addressing the [recent U.S.-Iran] agreement and its implications for Israel, the Middle East and the world. … The webcast is hosted by American Friends of Likud, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations together with Jewish Federations across the nation.”

REBECCA VILKOMERSON, via Cecilie Surasky, cecilie at jewishvoiceforpeace.org, @jvplive                         Vilkomerson is the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, a leading national organization “inspired by Jewish tradition to work for a just peace for all the people of Israel and Palestine. Jewish Voice for Peace has over 200,000 online supporters, over 60 chapters, a youth wing, a Rabbinic Council, an Artist Council, an Academic Advisory Council, and an Advisory Board made up of leading U.S. intellectuals and artists.”

ABBA SOLOMON, abbasolomon at gmail.com, @Abba_A_Solomon
Solomon is author of The Speech, and Its Context: Jacob Blaustein’s Speech ‘The Meaning of Palestine Partition to American Jews. He said today: “As with valorizing American naval intelligence spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard, this decision shows the Israeli government’s chronic confusion about the status of Jewish Americans. It’s the end result of Zionism’s 100-plus year assertion of Jews as a nationality.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reckless plan for an address to American Jews highlights the Israeli government’s obsession with Jewish identity that has proved historically dangerous to gentile residents of Palestine, and is alien to the American ideal of shared citizenship regardless of race or creed.

“Together with his March address to the U.S. Congress on an unprecedented mission to destroy President Obama’s Iran negotiations, Netanyahu is forcing re-examination by American Jews of the sympathy they’ve maintained for Israel because Israeli Jews are co-religionists.

“Netanyahu’s behavior, the 48-year military occupation ruling over non-Israelis, and increasingly reported instances of Jewish extremist violence, are bringing the majority of American Jews — if not major Jewish institutions yet — to a wary relationship with the volatile, nuclear-armed State of Israel.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif recently wrote the piece “Iran has signed a historic nuclear deal — now it’s Israel’s turn.” See Institute for Public Accuracy news release: “Israel Silently Lapping Field in ‘Mideast Nuclear Arms Race’.”

Obama Climate Change Action Goes “Nowhere Near Far Enough”

President Obama unveiled the latest piece of his plan to combat climate change on Monday. However, in “Obama Wants You to Think His Climate Plan Is Bold. It’s Not,” Slate notes: “Last week, former NASA climate scientist James Hansen, fresh off a dire new warning about global sea levels, had harsh words for the slow, incremental progress that’s formed essentially the entirety of American’s climate ambition to date. ‘We have two political parties, neither one of which is willing to face reality,’ Hansen told the Guardian. ‘Conservatives pretend it’s all a hoax, and liberals propose solutions that are non-solutions.’”

DAPHNE WYSHAM, daphne.wysham at gmail.com, @daphnewysham
Wysham is director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Center for Sustainable Economy. Her writings, commentary and analysis have appeared in national news publications including the New York TimesWall Street JournalWashington Postand The Nation.

Wysham said of Obama’s plan: “If Obama truly wants to leave behind an impressive climate change legacy, he needs to 1) withdraw Shell’s permit to drill in the Arctic; 2) end all new fossil fuel infrastructure projects across the U.S.; 3) ensure that all targets and timetables for greenhouse gas emissions reductions are in sync with what the climate science requires, which would get the U.S. to zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050; 4) begin a World War II-type mobilization toward a 100 percent renewable energy economy; and 5) make the polluters, not the American people, pay for the significant costs of climate change adaptation and mitigation.”

EVAN WEBER, evan at usclimateplan.org, @evanlweber
Weber is the co-founder of U.S. Climate Plan. He said today: “With the release of the final Clean Power Plan — this administration’s landmark climate action — it’s abundantly clear that President Obama’s climate policies won’t be enough to protect us from the threat of a radically warmed world. It’s time to create our own power plan: a plan to build the political power in every community to show the demand for strong government action to transition us away from all fossil fuels once and for all. That includes moving us away from climate-warming natural gas, which we’re afraid the President’s policies still unduly favor. We, the people, are our only hope for climate justice. It’s up to us to our generation to build power from the bottom up in every state across the country to win back our governments — and our future — from the fossil fuel industry.”

MIA REBACK, mia at 350pdx.org, @miareback 
Reback is a climate justice activist and 350PDX community organizer. Today she talked with Portland Mayor Charlie Hales just before Hales met with President Obama to discuss his Clean Power Plan. Reback said she asked the Mayor to convey to Obama that the plan was a step in the right direction. She also wanted Hales to discuss with the President his decision to let Shell drill in the Arctic.

“I appealed to Hales to ask the president to reverse his stance on Arctic drilling. Approving a new large-scale fossil fuel development, like Shell’s proposed Arctic drilling, is reckless and puts American people at risk. Obama should rescind Shell’s permit to drill in the Arctic.”

Urging Bernie Sanders to “Speak Out” on Foreign Policy, Petition Gathers More Than 8,000 Signers in First Day

A petition to Sen. Bernie Sanders — urging him to tackle foreign policy issues in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination — gained 8,000 signers on Sunday (Aug. 2).

While praising the Sanders campaign’s “strong challenge to corporate power and oligarchy,” the petition urges him “to speak out about how they are intertwined with militarism and ongoing war.”

The nationwide petition adds: “Martin Luther King Jr. denounced what he called ‘the madness of militarism,’ and you should do the same. As you said in your speech to the SCLC, ‘Now is not the time for thinking small.’ Unwillingness to challenge the madness of militarism is thinking small.”

In a lengthy speech to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference on July 25, Sanders lauded King as a visionary leader — but made no mention of King’s antiwar leadership. From the speech, “you wouldn’t have a clue that King explicitly and emphatically linked the issues of economic injustice at home with war abroad,” says RootsAction.org, the group that launched the petition.

“So far,” RootsAction says, “Bernie’s stump speech hardly mentions the huge military budget — and does not talk about how it is a massive roadblock for the scale of public investment in education, infrastructure and jobs that he is advocating.”

The petition is headlined, “Bernie Sanders, Speak Up: Militarism and Corporate Power Are Fueling Each Other.”

When it launched the petition yesterday, RootsAction pointed out that “on his campaign’s official website, the page headlined ‘Bernie Sanders: On the Issues’ says nothing at all about foreign policy, war or any other such topics.”

Available for interviews:

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at gmail.com, @roots_action
Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.org. He is the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

RootsAction said in a statement when launching the petition yesterday: “With a strong grassroots campaign, Bernie is eloquent as he denounces corporate power, economic inequality and ‘oligarchy.’ But he’s saying very little about crucial issues of war, militarism and foreign policy….

“Ongoing war and huge military spending continue to be deeply enmeshed with basic economic ills from upside-down priorities. As the National Priorities Project has documented, 54 percent of the U.S. government’s discretionary spending now goes to military purposes.”

Afghanistan’s “Most Formidable Warlord”

Reuters reports: “The Taliban have chosen late supreme leader Mullah Omar’s longtime deputy to replace him, two militant commanders said on Thursday, as Pakistan announced that peace talks between the insurgents and the Afghan government had been postponed.”

KATHY KELLY, BUDDY BELL, kathy at vcnv.org, buddy at vcnv.org, @voiceinwild
Kelly and Bell are co-coordinators of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. They just wrote the piece “No Warlords Need Apply — A Call for Credible Peacemaking in Afghanistan.” Kelly was released from prison in April for protesting outside U.S. military bases operating killer drones. She was in Afghanistan last month.

Kelly appeared today on NPR affiliate WBEZ’s “Worldview” program. She stated that the U.S. has enacted various policies, including killer drone strikes, that “have exacerbated” the problems in Afghanistan, adding that the structure of current “peace talks” has “left ordinary Afghans out of the equation.” She also drew a parallel between African Americans being killed by police in the U.S. because of profiling and the U.S. military killing people in Afghanistan and other countries based on profiling. See “Get the data: Drone wars” from the Bureau for Investigative Journalism.

Kelly and Bell’s recent piece states: “In the short time since the first round [of peace talks] on July 7th, fighting has intensified. The Taliban, the Afghan government forces, various militias and the U.S. have ramped up attacks across Afghanistan.

“Some analysts say the Taliban may be trying to gain territory and clout to give them leverage in ‘peace talks.’ Taliban forces, apparently beginning to splinter since the supposed death of Mullah Omar, are now competing with a new Islamic State presence in Afghanistan as various armed groups try to recruit new fighters from among ultra-conservative sectors of the regional population. Spectacular and frightening suicide bombings, hostage taking and a demonstrated capacity to force Afghan government soldiers into retreat or surrender might bolster a group’s claim to be effectively ejecting foreigners from Afghanistan.

“However, the U.S., with its history of waging aerial attacks, using helicopters and weaponized drones, and engaging in constant aerial surveillance, along with its continued night raids and detention of civilians, effectively carries itself as the most formidable warlord in the region.

“Throughout June, according to the New York Times, ‘American drones and warplanes fired against militants in Afghanistan more than twice as much as they had in any previous month this year, according to military statistics.’ On July 19th, 2015, U.S. helicopters even fired on an Afghan army facility in the Logar province, killing seven troops and wounding five others. …

“Meanwhile, top U.S. military officials have met with president Ashraf Ghani to talk about extending the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, beyond 2016, in light of a possible threat from Islamic State fighters. On July 19th, the Los Angeles Times reported that Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Following the meeting, General Dempsey said he agreed that the U.S. needed to have a transnational strategy against the Islamic State. He said he would raise Ghani’s idea that Afghanistan ‘could serve as a hub from which the U.S., its allies and Afghanistan itself could work to prevent Islamic State from gaining followers in South Asia the way it has in the Middle East.'”

Shooting of Sam DuBose: Are Cams on Police the Answer?

CARLOS MILLER, carlosmiller at pinac.org                                                                                                         Miller is author of The Citizen Journalist Photography Handbook. He founded the website PhotographyIsNotACrime.com and just wrote the piece “Ohio Cop Charged with Murder for Shooting Sam DuBose to Death During Traffic Stop Caught on Body Cam,” which states: “A University of Cincinnati police officer who claimed he shot and killed a man after he was dragged by the man’s car, causing him to fear for his life, was charged with murder today in what a prosecutor called a ‘senseless, asinine’ shooting.

“‘He purposely killed him.’ Prosecutor Joe Deters said during a news conference today. ‘He should never have been a police officer.’ …

“Deters’ decision was based on Tensing’s body cam footage which is said to be so appalling that he was reluctant to release it, fearing riots.

“But he ended up releasing the video, which is posted below. The video goes black towards the end. We are working on obtaining the full video as well as video from the other officers on the scene. …

“Tensing can be heard telling another cop, ‘I thought he was going to run me over.’”

Miller said today: “Cams on cops are a good thing but that does not mean citizens need to stop recording because when the footage is in the hands of police, there is never a guarantee it will not be manipulated, destroyed or simply never released.

“There have been numerous examples, but one that sticks out is the recent video from Gardena, California that took two years to release, and dashcam footage from the killing of a teenager by Chicago police that still has not been released even though the city settled for $5 million.

“Albuquerque cops have had numerous issues with the cameras not being turned on when they kill.

“It’s not that rare.

“Granted, it’s still a new technology, which is why citizens should always record when confronted by cops or when being witnesses to cops.”

Also see by Shahid Buttar: “Police Violence? Body Cams Are No Solution.” The piece states: “Cameras captured video of Eric Garner’s death, which millions of people watched on YouTube. But video neither saved Eric Garner nor helped hold his murderers accountable. Moreover, even when everything does work as their proponents suggest, body cameras offer transparency only into particular incidents, not into patterns or practices. … By extending surveillance, cameras could also fuel mass incarceration. Cameras could capture footage used against defendants in criminal trials — either where the footage depicts criminal acts, like jaywalking or selling loose cigarettes, or where it merely supports suspicion of potential crime, justifying subsequent stops and searches that would otherwise be illegal.”

Other recent pieces on PhotographyIsNotACrime.com include: “Southern California Paramedics Routinely Harass Citizens Recording in Public, Falsely Accusing Them of HIPAA Violations,” “Ohio Woman Mysteriously Dies In Cleveland Jail After Fight with Husband,” “NYPD Cops Pull Man Out of Car and Beat Him for Double-Parking,” “Alabama Police Officer Breaks Down on Stand, Admits to Repeatedly Lying to Cover Up for Fellow Cop Beating Handcuffed Man,” “Idaho Cop Caught on Camera Elbowing Man Charged with Assault,” and “New Jersey State Trooper Fires Gun at Teens for Mistakenly Knocking on his Door.”

70 Years After U.S. Nuked Japan: Calls for Nuclear Abolition

The U.S. dropped nuclear weapons on Hiroshima August 6 and Nagasaki August 9 in 1945 — 70 years ago next week. Activists from the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee of the National Capital Area are planning a full slate of events to advocate for “the abolition of nuclear weapons and power, and in support of nuclear victims.”

JOHN STEINBACH, johnsteinbach1 at verizon.net
Steinbach is one of the founding members of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Committee in the D.C. area. Said Steinbach: “We believe that if the world is to avoid repeating the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we must strive to keep alive the memory of the bombings. This August we again plan a full schedule of events.”

The following individuals who are visiting from Japan can be reached through Steinbach:

GORO MATSUYAMA
Currently the president of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Hibakusha Association of Neyagawa City in Osaka Prefecture, Matsuyama was 16 years old at the time of the bombing and working as a mobilized student worker at a military factory two and a half miles from the epicenter of the bomb. After retiring from teaching in Hiroshima Prefecture, he has become very active in Hibakusha peace movements.

Matsuyama discussed his experience living through the atomic bomb in an interview earlier this year. He said we wants to make sure Americans understand the impact of the bombs dropped on Japan. “Why does an 85-year-old hibakusha [A-bomb survivor] go to America? I want world leaders who don’t know the terrors of nuclear weapons to think about that.”

TAKAKO CHIBA
The president of Ashiya City Hibakusha Association, Chiba was three years old at the time when the bomb was dropped and was just one and a half miles from the Hiroshima bomb’s epicenter. After retiring from teaching, she started working for anti-nuclear movements.

Wrote Chiba: “I strongly feel that, in order to build society where my sons and grandchildren can live in peace, it is the duty of us survivors to share our experience with as many people as possible to help them identify with it. I sincerely hope that we are the last generation of people who are tormented on a daily basis by this kind of uneasiness. Nothing is as valuable as peace.”

YUKIE IKEBE
Ikebe is the leader/instructor of the 16-person Heartful Chorus choral group, in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture and a peace activist who has held peace concerts throughout Japan.

To see the schedule of the upcoming Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Committee events click here, or see accuracy.org/calendar.

Note to producers: You may want to use the song “Enola Gay” by OMD as a musical lead-in; this version by Elisa Salasin includes audio clips of President Harry Truman claiming that Hiroshima was “a military base” and J. Robert Oppenheimer: “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” See on YouTube.

“Kayaktivists” Attempt to Stop Shell’s Damaged Ice Breaker from Departing for Arctic

The Portland Tribune reports: “Portland protesters will seek to block the passage of Shell Oil’s icebreaker bound for the Arctic, starting Tuesday afternoon, in what could turn out to be the start of a multiday civil disobedience action. Member groups in the Climate Action Coalition are urging supporters to show up for a ‘kayak and water vigil’ at noon Tuesday, July 28, at the Cathedral Park boat ramp in North Portland.”

The Department of the Interior has stated that there is a 75 percent chance of an oil spill in the Arctic once Shell’s drilling commences.

DAPHNE WYSHAM, daphne.wysham at gmail.com, @daphnewysham
Daphne Wysham is director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Center for Sustainable Economy. Her writings, commentary and analysis have appeared in national news publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and The Nation.

Said Wysham today: “Scientists tell us we can’t drill in the Arctic if we want to avoid dangerous climate change and sea level rise that threatens three-quarters of the Earth’s major cities in the next few decades. Nevertheless, Shell is putting its corporate profits ahead of the future of the planet and preparing to drill in a region where an oil spill cannot be cleaned up. Portland kayaktivists are the last phalanx of resistance to this insanity.”

MEREDITH COCKS, meredithlcocks at gmail.com, @pdxrisingtide
Cocks is an organizer with the group Portland Rising Tide, an organization working locally to “promote community-based solutions to the climate crisis and take direct action to confront the root causes of climate change.”

Cocks stated: “In Portland and across the northwest, we have the unique opportunity and responsibility to act as a chokepoint in the transport of dirty coal, oil, and gas. For years, Portland has demonstrated powerful resistance to the shipping of coal and oil by rail, as well as tar sands mining equipment by road. We view the arrival of Shell’s icebreaker in Portland as another chance to disrupt new oil development and demonstrate that any and all new fossil fuel exploration and extraction is an unacceptable risk to our climate and future.”

MAYA JARRAD, majauniv at gmail.com
Jarrad is the communications coordinator and newsletter editor for 350PDX, a group seeking to build “a diverse grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis.”

Jarrad said: “Scientists are sounding the alarm, telling us we need to keep most of our known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. This makes Shell’s extreme extraction adventure in the Arctic the definition of insanity. We’re talking about putting humanity, our entire planet’s livability at extreme risk. Portland is going to be taking a stand to say, ‘Shell No!’ We’re here fighting for humanity against the most wealthy and powerful industry in human history, but we’re not afraid, because everything we love and value in life is on the line.”

To follow the Portland Kayaktivists on Twitter see #PDXvsShell#ShellNo.

Medicare’s 50 Years of Low Overhead vs. ACA’s Increasing Bureaucratic Bloat, “Merger Mania”

HEALTHCARELast week the trustees of the Medicare program, whose 50th anniversary is this Thursday (see accuracy.org/calendar), released their annual report. It showed that traditional Medicare overhead amounts are about 2 percent of the program’s expenditures. That figure sharply contrasts with the 12 percent to 14 percent overhead typical of private health insurance companies. [PDF]

A recent study published at the Health Affairs Blog shows that the private insurance-based Affordable Care Act — sometimes called “Obamacare” — will add more than a quarter of a trillion dollars to the already very high administrative costs of U.S. health care through 2022. Nearly two-thirds of this new overhead — $172.2 billion — will go for increased private insurers’ administrative costs and profits.

AP reports in “Why the 2010 Health Care Law Led to Insurance Merger Mania“: “The health care overhaul law has reshaped the health insurance business, and one consequence is more than $100 billion in mergers and acquisitions over the last few years. Anthem Inc.’s purchase of Cigna Corp. and Aetna Inc.’s acquisition of Humana Inc., both announced this month, are worth more than $80 billion combined. … Many of [these] purchases have been designed to bulk up their [private] Medicaid and Medicare Advantage businesses because both of those programs keep growing.”

Interviews are available with the following:

STEFFIE WOOLHANDLER, M.D., swoolhan at hunter.cuny.edu
DAVID HIMMELSTEIN, M.D., dhimmels at hunter.cuny.edu
MARK ALMBERG, mark at pnhp.org, @pnhp
Woolhandler and Himmelstein are co-authors of the recent Health Affairs Blog study titled “The Post-Launch Problem: The Affordable Care Act’s Persistently High Administrative Costs.” They are professors at the City University of New York’s School of Public Health, longtime researchers in U.S. health care, and co-founders of Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization that advocates for a single-payer health care system. Almberg is communications director at PNHP and can facilitate interviews with Woolhandler and Himmelstein.

In a recent interview, Himmelstein said that the latest merger plans, if approved by regulators, “will leave us with a small handful of insurance giants that are essentially monopolies. Much of their revenue comes from the government that pays hundreds of billions annually in premiums for private ‘Medicare Advantage’ plans, Medicaid managed care plans, and much of the premiums for the private plans bought on [ACA] insurance exchanges. Much of this money is wasted; Anthem and Cigna have overhead that’s nearly tenfold higher than traditional Medicare.”

What’s more, Himmelstein continued, “These monopolies are lightly regulated, and have used their enormous financial and political clout to avoid real oversight. Just this month, the insurers’ lobbying group hired as their new CEO Marilyn Tavenner, who as head of Medicare and Medicaid was responsible for regulating them until this spring.”

Woohandler said today: “Between 2014 and 2022, the ACA will add $273.6 billion in new administrative costs over and above what would have been expected had the law not been enacted. That’s equivalent to $1,375 per newly insured person per year, or 22.5 percent of total federal expenditures for the program.”

She added: “Were the 22.5 percent overhead figure associated with the ACA to drop to traditional Medicare’s level, the U.S. would save $249.3 billion by 2022. In health care, public insurance gives much more bang for each buck.”

U.S. Approval of Turkey’s Bombing: Disaster in the Making?

TurkeyPatrick Cockburn — author of The Rise of Islamic State — just wrote a piece titled “Turkey conflict with Kurds: Was approving air strikes against the PKK America’s worst error in the Middle East since the Iraq War?” Meanwhile, the New York Times recently reported: “U.S. Jets to Use Turkish Bases in War on ISIS.”

AP reports: “NATO announced that its decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council, will convene Tuesday after Ankara invoked the alliance’s Article 4, which allows member states to request a meeting if they feel their territorial integrity or security is under threat.”

EDMUND GHAREEB, edmundghareeb at gmail.com
Available for a limited number of interviews, Ghareeb is an internationally recognized expert on the Middle East and especially Kurdish movements. His books include The Kurdish Question in Iraq, The Kurdish Nationalist Movement and War in the Gulf which he co-authored with Majid Khadduri. Ghareeb was the first Mustafa Barzani Scholar of Global Kurdish Studies at the Center for Global Peace at American University.

He can address a number of aspects of this story. Ian Masters interviewed Ghareeb on Sunday: audio. Also see his recent segments on The Real News.

KANI XULAM, kani at kurdistan.org, @AKINinfo
Xulam is director of the American Kurdish Information Network. He said today: “The U.S. had been helping the Kurdish group in Syria — the YPG. That group is basically another branch of the PKK, which Turkey just bombed in Iraq — a sovereign country — with an apparent U.S. green light. There certainly hasn’t been a condemnation by the U.S. government of the bombing. A paper in Australia succinctly headlined it this way: ‘Turkey confuses Middle East mess by attacking Islamic State’s main opponent, the Kurds.’

“Turkish president Erdogan also has domestic interests in lashing out now. He was aiming to totally dominate Turkish politics but had major setbacks in the recent parliamentary elections. There are major corruption charges against several of his ministers for allegedly siphoning off money into personal accounts. His son is making financial deals with Israel while the father is grandstanding for Palestinians in Gaza. By attacking the PKK now, he wants to pump up the jingoistic sentiments in the country and silence his critics. He demonizes the PKK while the group has kept its guns silent in Turkey for three years.”

U.S. Criticized for Killer Drones and Backing Kenyan and Ethiopian “Fragmentation of Somalia”

East Africa 2.0President Obama just started his trip to Kenya and Ethiopia. The Los Angeles Times reports the U.S. has stepped up use of drone strikes in neighboring Somalia ahead of Obama’s trip. See the Bureau of Investigative Journalism for information on U.S. drones strikes and covert operations in Somalia.

ABDI ISMAIL SAMATAR, [currently in South Africa, 6 hours ahead of U.S. ET] samat001 at umn.edu
Samatar is professor and chair of the Department of Geography, Environment & Society at the University of Minnesota. He is currently research fellow at the University of Pretoria. He will be traveling to Kenya on Monday and then on to Somalia. He has written a number of pieces on east Africa for Al-Jazeera. He said today: “Somalia might be the first place for the war on terror to succeed if the Obama administration has the will to support progressive politics in the country, and not the fragmentation of Somalia into tribal fiefdom under the hegemony of Ethiopia and Kenya. If the latter continues Al-Shabaab and other similar groups will remain and might get stronger.”

SADIA ALI ADEN, [currently in Somalia, 7 hours ahead of U.S. ET] sadiaaden at gmail.com, @sadiaaden
Aden is a human rights advocate and freelance writer who has written for the Huffington Post, Middle East On-Line, Islam Online and numerous other outlets. Sadia is the co-founder of Adar Foundation and Somali Diaspora Youth. She left Kenya for Somali a few days ago.

She said today about the situation in Somalia: “Both on the humanitarian and development fronts there is good progress. One may argue the same for the security front, though not without contention. However, on the political front, there are a great deal of tensions and very little progress.

“The biggest myth of all is that Somalia does not need reconciliation and that an election or a selection would solve all its problems. … Somalia is yet to have a national and holistic reconciliation that is Somali-led and Somali-owned.

“The involvement of Kenya and Ethiopia and their officially joining AMISOM [African Union Mission to Somalia] to secure an indefinite presence in Somalia has exacerbated the situation. Frontline states could never be entrusted with peace building missions that involve their next door neighbors. They always have a conflict of interest.

“U.S. policy toward the entire region has been ineffective, if not dysfunctional. Partnership with Ethiopia and Kenya on counter-terrorism causes the U.S. to turn a blind eye on certain human rights violations in both countries.” See segment: “U.S. Drone Campaign In Somalia Creates More Enemies.”

ABAYOMI AZIKIWE, panafnewswire at yahoo.com, @panafnewswire
Azikiwe, based in Detroit, runs the Pan African News Wire. He said today: “This is President Obama’s first visit to Kenya as president even though his father is from there. U.S. policy toward east Africa has not been a rational policy, in terms of benefiting either the African people or most people in the U.S. It has stressed military and counter-terrorism, not economic development and the U.S. government has not shown serious interest in trade with Africa on an equitable basis.

“The U.S. government has backed both Kenya and Ethiopia intervening in Somalia with predictably terrible results. Much of U.S. policy in the region is built around AFRICOM [United States Africa Command] which was started in the Bush administration and Obama has continued to back. AFRICOM is ostensibly designed to enhance national security for African states, but the opposite has happened.”

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