US accused of using Ethiopia to launch air strikes on Somalia

February 28, 2007 at 8:37 am (africa, ethiopia)

US accused of using Ethiopia to launch air strikes on Somalia

Xan Rice, East Africa correspondent
Saturday February 24, 2007
The Guardian

The US military secretly used landing strips in eastern Ethiopia to launch air strikes on suspected Islamists in Somalia last month, it was reported yesterday.Quoting anonymous army officials, the New York Times also claimed that the US diverted spy satellites to provide intelligence to Ethiopian troops as they swept across the country to drive the Somali Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC) out of the capital, Mogadishu.

If true, the report would confirm rumours of close planning between the two countries before and during the war. Both administrations deny this was the case. The account also raises questions about the relationship between Washington and the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, whose record on human rights has come under severe scrutiny.

Until now, the US has refused to provide specifics on its operations in Somalia, other than to confirm that it launched two strikes aimed at alleged “al-Qaida affiliated” members of the SCIC in the far south of the country.According to the NYT, which said military officials considered the Somalia operations a much-needed counter terrorism success, two AC-130 gunships landed at a small airstrip in eastern Ethiopia on January 6. One of the planes launched a strike on a suspected Islamist convoy the following day. A second strike followed two weeks later. No “high-value targets” – the term US officials use to describe al-Qaida members – were killed in either attack.

Initially it was suspected that the planes had flown from Djibouti, where the US has a large military base. But Djibouti’s president later condemned the US attacks, and denied the planes took off from there.

Bereket Simon, an Ethiopian government spokesman, said the US planes had not used landing strips in Ethiopia. But analysts said the report appeared to back up hitherto unconfirmed accounts.

Richard Cornwell, senior research fellow at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, said that a visit by General John Abizaid, then head of the US central command, to Addis Ababa in December, probably paved the way for the operation.

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being a telephone psychic

February 20, 2007 at 1:13 pm (divination)

i have been a part time ‘telephone psychic’ for two weeks now.  but it places you in an odd place in the social world.  when people ask me what i do, i am never quiet sure how to answer.  sometimes i answer: i am pregnant. implying that i believe that pregnancy is work and that it is the only work that i do.  i do believe that pregnancy is incredibly hard and important work and should be acknowledged as such.  but it is not the only work that i do.  sometimes i answer directly:  i am a telephone psychic.  people’s responses normally fall into two categories:  they either believe that i am a scam artist or they think that i am a psychic.  neither of these are true either.

i am not a scam artist.  granted i can imagine ways that i would rather earn money, but i am completely honest and upfront with my clients on the phone.  i pull cards from a pile and read/interpret them.  i use the same part of my brain that i use for analyzing literature  or a painting or a set of patterns.  i believe in synchronicity.  i believe that the 90 percent of my brain that is ‘not being used’ is actually recording an incredible amount of data that i can have access to if i ask for it.  and i am aim for accuracy, specificity, and honesty in my readings.  i dont know if i have ‘special’ gifts but i do know that i trained myself, studied the tarot and playing cards as well as other divination systems, read theories and stories about divination, and have done more readings than i can count.  and my clients are usually happy with my services, contact me repeatedly for further readings, and have learned to trust me over time.

but i am not a psychic.  i am an interpreter of the patterns of the universe.

why do i call myself a telephone psychic?  because that is the common parlance that includes my line of work.

what do i do?  i call up a 1 800 number.  type in my personal id number and my password. and log on to the system.  i then sit in my office, playing on my computer, reading a book, bouncing on my birthing ball until the phone rings.  i like to wait three rings so that i end what i am currently doing and prepare to give a reading.  usually it is a woman on the phone and she wants to know about her career or love.  i start to pull out cards as she gives me as little or as much information as she likes.  i ask her once:  what is her question?

sometimes she will tell me that she wants to know how the relationship with she and her boyfriend are going.  and from there i have to give her a pretty accurate indication of the past present and future of the relationship. i dont have a script that i go by.

tonight i told one woman that she had been unfaithful or was currently being unfaithful to her boyfriend.  that this had caused her boyfriend alot of distress.  that he really wanted to continue the relationship with her but had been badly hurt by her betrayal.  that one of them was much younger than the other.  that she wasnt still seeing or even talking to the person with whom she had cheated.  after i was able to describe this much of her life without any prompt from her she started to open up and tell me more details of the story of her relationship.

on other calls, the person will begin to tell me the whole story right away.   sometimes i wish that they would not tell me so many details because so much information so quickly can cause chaotic whirlwind in my brain.  but i am often grateful that they do.  i dont have to waste their and my time divining details of their life that they already know, but aren’t telling me to test if i am a real psychic.  we can spend our time dealing with their real specific questions instead.  they are paying for everyminute they are on the phone.

when does the phone ring?  right now i am waiting for the phone ring.  in the meantime i am writing this blog entry. on average i dont expect the phone to ring more than once an hour.  the company that i am subcontracted to does not currently offer : 5 free minutes! so there are not alot of people who call and then hang up really quickly so they dont have to pay anything.  instead the people who call must buy their minutes before they can talk to a psychic. sometimes they only buy ten and sometime they buy 120.  if they want the reading to continue and they have run out of minutes they must get off the phone with me and buy more minutes and then call me back.  i normally work the late night shift 2 am – 6 am.

who calls?  before i started this job that was my biggest question.   more women than men.  normally middle class.  new agey.  20’s-60’s age range.

why do they call?  because they have questions and they want answers.  how much would you be willing to pay to get answers to some of those burning questions in your life?  well, the people who call and ask questions have deduced how much they are willing to pay and they have bought that many minutes.  normally they want absolute answers but i can only give probable ones.  if they like the answer then they will tell themselves that it was an absolute answer and if they dont like the answer they will quickly remind me that the future is open and full of possibilities.

so i had to stop writing because i got a couple of calls in a row.  wanting to know about love and career.  both women.

the last caller i am worried about:  she is divorcing her husband, but he wants to keep the relationship going.  and he figures that if he can get her pregnant that she will stay with him.  he is also physically abusive and has ‘behavioural’ problems and lives in the same complex as she and her children do.  and yet she cant motivate herself to leave him.  even though her kids preteen are telling her to do so.  obviously she needs to move.  and when she moves she will find that her health and her economic situation will get alot better.  her health problems right now are psychosomatic reaction to the stress of her living near her exhusband.  her career is going great and soon she will be working on a collaborative project.  and her children are awesome.  and strong.  and she will be a really strong single mom.

i felt for her.  she was one of my favorites.  i liked the young smooth insecure cadence of her voice.   i have a soft spot in my heart for black single moms because i was brought up by one.

so what do i do?  what am i doing? well for 30-40 cents per minute on the phone i answer questions deep and petty about strangers lives.  i am a compassionate listener (unless i am in a bad mood) i am a down to earth soon to be mama (even if i think that pregnancy is an evil plot by patriarchy) and i am the high priestess of the tarot deck.  often more intune to the inner worlds than the outer worlds.  although i easily forget myself and just start saying bullshit and time and time again i must pull myself back to myself and away from the temptations to just enjoy hearing myself be the ‘expert’ on someone else’s life for a few minutes.

i dont know what i do.  but if you give me a call.  maybe you can tell me.

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the african palestinian connection

February 8, 2007 at 9:34 am (africa, palestine)

I have asked the members of the community if they experienced racism within larger Palestinian society. Some of the older members of the community talked to me about how issues of skin color would come up when a darker African Palestinian would try to marry a lighter Palestinian woman. As one older member of the community told me: “I know they wanted to say no because of my skin color but their daughter, whose is now my wife, was insistent that as Muslims they had no right to deny me.” For younger generations within the community there have been enough marriages between Palestinians of African descent and the larger community to make this less of an issue.

As an American Muslim who has spent more than a decade organizing or living on Chicago’s South Side, I can’t help but feel that the larger Palestinian American community has not celebrated the African part of our identity in the way that we should. Failing to do this has prevented segments of the Palestinian community from making more of a connection to the African American legacy and its struggles against institutionalized racism and white supremacy. Making that connection is imperative, particularly during opportune moments like Black History Month. Most African Americans residing in urban communities only interact with Palestinians through the presence of liquor stores or other exploitative businesses and a growing number of community activists have emerged as increasingly resentful of their presence. By embracing and celebrating their own African heritage during Black History Month, Palestinian and other Arab Muslims may grow to make more meaningful connections to the larger African American community, its rich legacy and its on-going struggles.

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The Legacy of Arab-Islam in Africa

February 8, 2007 at 9:30 am (africa, anti-racism, islam)

Islam came to Africa with traders and the “religious experts”that travelled with them. Its route was trans-Sahara, running through tropical Africa, North Africa and the Mediterranean to Europe, and across the Red Sea into Arabia and the Middle East. As early as the 8th century, Islam had converted a number of nationalities, for instance the Berbers, who became Muslims and became traders like the Arabs. These new Muslims plied their trade down to Niger and Ghana; a similar role was played by Hausa and Yoruba tribes in West Africa. Arab and Persian traders reached East Africa and settled there as local aristocrats, taking local black wives and giving rise to cultures called variously Shirazi, Zeilawi (Arab plus Somali and Afar) and Swahili (Arab andBantu).

Some thought that Islam was better suited to the African mind because the African mind was not suitable for sophisticated metaphysics; since Islam is sensual and materialistic it is easily accepted by the African mind. Some of us might find that insulting but advocates of Islam in Africa have said it. Be that as it may, Islam didn’t stop slavery that had begun in 200 BC and Islam struggled in vain against it. A companion of the Prophet (pbuh) Abdur Rehman bin Awf freed 30,000 slaves at his death-bed. The Prophet (pbuh) himself set an example when he purchased Abyssinian Bilal ibn Rabah and set him free. Sudan, which means `place of the blacks’ – and applied to a larger region in those days – became the slave-rich region for Muslim traders after the conquest of Egypt in 639 AD. Modern Kenya and Tanzania were trawled by them, the region being called Zanj, which gave rise to the other name for slave: zangi . African slaves abounded in medieval Baghdad and Damascus and their presence was so widespread that it gave rise to a sexually “defensive” male Arab mentality revealed in AThousand and One Nights .

The black slave permeated Muslim life to the extent that kings began siring children on black women and giving rise to “slave dynasties” and an entire Mamluke empire was established by them. In1882 a Muslim Arab slaver in Africa admitted that fifty per cent of his”catch” died while travelling in chains from the interior of Africa to the coast. Dr Livingstone in Africa calculated that each slave that went to the Arab-Islamic world was actually ten slaves to start with. Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun noted that all of North Africa then ruled by Muslims was filled with black slaves, captured mostly by fellow-African Berbers who had converted to Islam. What the entrepôt of Muslim Egypt did to all parts of Africa could be compared in its savagery to what the Belgians did to Congo later on. Egypt exported them to all parts of the world, including Europe. Mecca itself became a market, and if you went for hajj in those days, you brought back a slave or two.

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me drinking water

February 6, 2007 at 7:01 am (democratic republic of congo)


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February 6, 2007 at 6:49 am (anti-racism, Motherhood, women of color)

dearie me,

i am in my last months of pregnancy yay! and have discovered a new way for white people to be racist: belong to an anti-racism group.  this way they still get to self-righteous (look at how i am really trying to address racism!), martyred and victimized (it is so difficult to deal with racism because i just cant seem to get past my white privilege!)  and exclude people of color from the group (i didnt mean to marginalize you…i just thought that because you were of color/colored you weren’t as smart as me…i mean, i am really trying to address racism!  it is just so difficult to deal with racism because i just cant seem to get past my white privilege! and i cant change being white!)  i mean in all honesty i do not want to hear for a while about how difficult it is for white people to deal with their own racism.  you made your bed now lie in it.

i dont want to hear about all the work you have done on racism.  no you havent.  you have done the bare minimum.

i dont want to hear about the new people of color that you have spoken about racism, and the new insights you have had on your own racist patterns, or how powerless you are to make any real anti-racist changes because you are so busy and only one person…anti-racism is not a self-help pop psychology program…it is about people’s lives and deaths.

actually point of order:  never tell a black pregnant woman how you are too exhausted to talk to her about the racism you perpetuated against her.  i know peace-loving lawyers who defend the right of a pregnant woman to murder stupid people.   seriously.

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