Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Giant Demonstrations to Free Nkunda in Congolese Refugee Camps

Gen Nkunda, in the middle, speaking at his eastern Congolese compound on Jan 3, 2009 prior to being detained by the Rwandan military. (photo by G. Neinaber)

There have been large demonstrations in several Rwandan-run Congolese refugee camps in support of General Laurent Nkunda, chairman of the CNDP, after Rwandan authorities detained him under some sort of "house arrest", apparently deceitfully, while he was attending a joint meeting with them. This is according to people on the ground in contact with independent journalist Georgianne Nienaber, who has been staying on top of the evolving situation, as well as according to the BBC.

Nienaber has received several messages recently, which she has now conveyed to me. Here is one communique from one of the camps. I have modified the punctuation and capitalization to make it easier to read:

thanks Georgianna,

We do not know we will pay you back, but God knows to do it in a better way than us. I tried to get you some photos but I couldn't because of the police. No one can enter the 2 camps anymore. It (is) surrounded by soldiers and police, but refugees decided to go on demonstrating until they release their leader,and yes this has an important effect on the world.

Maybe with this, people will realize that Nkunda is not a criminal as everyone said, and everyone here does support NKunda, but people are scared. No one can say it aloud, people are angry but there is no place to express it. That (is) why we need you, Georginna.

I'll get some more news this evening. A journalist from suede (sic) reached the camp yesterday but the police catch her and they deleted all the photos she has taken.

May God bless you Georgianna


Here is a second dispatch sent to Ms. Nienaber:

”Release Major-General Laurent Nkunda MIHIGO”, was one of the main message of Congolese living in refugee camps in Byumba and Kibuye on Sunday January 25, 2009. In fact, more than 45,000 Congolese gathered in their camps in Byumba and Kibuye (Rwanda) for a peaceful march and a strong message to the Rwandan government, asking for the unconditional release of General Laurent Nkunda Mihigo was sent out.

In chanting the slogan of the day,''Release our Leader, we ask for our Leader'', the demonstrators from the Byumba camp, escorted by the police and the army gathered in their game plot before walking around the whole camp to express their dissatisfaction against the Government of Rwanda after the arrest of Major-General Laurent Nkunda Mihigo.

On the signs, it was writen:''We condemn the arbitrary arrest of Major General Laurent Nkunda”, “we have lost the hope of returning home" and “We denounce all the traitors of the nation; allies of the evil forces”. The peaceful march started at 11.00, was covered by some foreign media and ended at 15:00 without incident.

However, in Kibuye, the peaceful march started at 8:00 but was disrupted by a Police Officer who wanted to arrest a demonstrator. A fight between demonstrators and the police followed, the latter shot into the crowd injuring a girl in the arm. According to preliminary information, the girl was between life and death.

The angry demontrators beat the Police Offistate. The refugees’ anger continued until evening, when they burned all the houses of policemen guarding the camp. The Rwandan army intervened and several arrests are reported.


Finally, here is an excerpt from a BBC report confirming that massive demonstrations have indeed taken place in support of Nkunda.

Rwanda Puts Down Nkunda Dissent

(original at:

Security has been tightened at refugee camps in Rwanda after protests calling for rebel Laurent Nkunda's release.

Gen Nkunda, who claimed his fighters were protecting the Tutsi community in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was arrested by Rwanda last week.

A joint force of Rwandan police and soldiers put down the protests mainly by Congolese Tutsis, on Sunday - reportedly using live bullets.

Correspondents says demonstrations against the government are very rare.

A Tutsi like Rwanda's leaders, Gen Nkunda had guarded Rwanda's western flank against attacks from ethnic Hutu Interahamwe militias who fled there after the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

But in a change of policy, he was arrested after being invited by Rwanda to discuss a joint military force from both countries against Hutu forces.....(For the full article, click here.)

Dilbert's Foreclosure

Riz Khan Interviews Daniel Barenboim on the Gaza Debacle - Jan 26

Why isn't Daniel Barenboim running for office in Israel? He has more sense in his baton hand than there is in the entire Israeli cabinet.

Sidebar for this video:

Riz is joined by Daniel Barenboim and Stephen Hawking, two geniuses of their respective fields who are calling for a solution on Gaza - from outside the political system.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Real Life Need for Unions

Dilbert says it as well as I could.....

my apologies I should have previewed first...the comic wouldn't fit on our's NOT monday? oh my....

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sponser a CEO

Come on America, let's show how big our hearts are. Sponsor a bankrupt CEO.

Unedited Interview with General Laurent Nkunda: Parts 2 thru 4

In early January, Georgianne Nienaber and Helen Thomas, rather courageous and enterprising independent journalists, traveled to the compound of General Laurent Nkunda, charismatic leader of the rebel CNDP (National Congress for the Defense of the People) in the eastern Congo to interview him. They had become suspicious that a great many demonizing myths and groundless allegations had been hurled against him, and they wanted to get to the truth about the General if at all possible.

The CNDP, for those of you who don't know, has been one of the key protagonists in the ongoing and bloody conflict in the Congo, and has been a very disciplined and effective military force.

General Nkunda, however, has been getting a large amount of negative press in the mainstream media, and has been accused of massacres and war crimes, even the killing of endangered Congolese gorillas.

In the past few days, after the Rwandan government, which had been loosely allied with Nkunda, forged an agreement, whose details we do not fully know yet, with President Joseph Kabila of the DR Congo, a shift in alliances subsequently took place and Nkunda suddenly found himself isolated, on January 23, by the Rwandan military. At first the reports were that he was arrested. Now the term is "house arrest". At first there were deep concerns that he might be extradited to the DR Congo, where the Congolese government has already been making serious war crimes charges against him. However, how really true are these charges, or might they just be a contrived attempt to railroad Nkunda and eliminate him?

In reality, it seems that the Rwandan military still considers Nkunda a figure to be respected, if for no other reason than the powerful support he can command, and might be loath to toss a former key asset to President Kabila's wolves in Kinshasa. (For the latest on Gen Nkunda's "house arrest" as of January 26, click here.)

There are already reports coming out of Africa of popular riots and demonstrations against his detention, which reports fly in the face of the monstrous picture some detractors have painted of Nkunda. If he is a super-villain, you would think we would be reading about celebrations in the streets voer his arrest.

So, what is the truth about the man? Rarely is Nkunda's side of the story heard in the West, so here is an opportunity to hear it directly from the horse's mouth in Parts 2 thru 4. You, the reader, be the judge, instead of allowing pundits and newscasters to decide for you. Part 1 was posted earlier. You can watch it by clicking here.

So here is more of the interview, Parts 2 thru 4, with more forthcoming.

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Gaza in Ruins: A news special - Part 3 - 23 Jan 09

Video sidebar:

Part three of Al Jazeera's news special from the Gaza Strip.

The ultimate goal for virtually everybody in Gaza is to get on with the business of achieving an independent Palestinian state.

We examine the main political players, and who could possibly unite all the Palestinian factions in order to move forward.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gaza in Ruins: A news special - Part 2 - 23 Jan 09

Video sidebar:

Part two of Al Jazeera's news special from the Gaza Strip.

Gaza lies in physical and psychological ruins once again. The cost of rebuilding is likely to run into billions of dollars according to the UN.

Unedited Interview with General Laurent Nkunda Part I of 6

Georgianne Nienaber and Helen Thomas, independent journalists, traveled to the compound of General Laurent Nkunda, charismatic leader of the rebel CNDP (National Congress for the Defense of the People) in the eastern Congo. The CNDP, for those of you who don't know, has been one of the key protagonists in the ongoing and bloody conflict in the Congo, and has been a very disciplined and effective military force.

General Nkunda, however, has been getting a large amount of negative press in the mainstream media, and has been accused of massacres and war crimes, and even the killing of endangered Congolese gorillas.

In the past few days, after the Rwandan government, which had been loosely allied with Nkunda, forged an agreement, whose details we do not fully know yet, with President Joseph Kabila of the DR Congo, a shift in alliances subsequently took place and Nkunda suddenly found himself arrested by the Rwandan military. He may now face extradition to the Congo, where the government has already been making serious war crimes charges against him. However, how really true are these charges, or might they just be a contrived attempt to railroad Nkunda?

Rarely is his side of the story heard in the West, so here is an opportunity to hear it directly from him.

Since Miss Nienaber has written extensively about African gorillas, the interview actually begins with that topic before moving on to other subjects.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Buzz--Listen to the Children NOT so=called Financial Gurus

Doesn't this sound familiar?
We have the potential to deliver abundant broadband capacity at prices we all can afford. Yet Americans consumers pay far too much for far too little compared to citizens in other countries. We have the eighth-highest monthly rates for broadband service among leading developed nations In real terms, this means Internet users in Japan pay about half the price for an Internet connection that’s 20 times faster than what’s commonly available to people in the United States.

Get connected with Internet for everyone.

Buzz--Obama's No Change Stimulus Plan

Thanks Heavens someone is asking good questions....Can we clone Rachel and put a few like her into the White House Press Pool?

The House voted to stop the release of the remaining no strings attached 350 billion dollars. Unfortunately the Senate did not vote to stop the funding of this horrible bill.

ONLY 8% for our highway roads, bridges and tunnels....Obama sure talked big about infrastructure but he's NOT doing what h promised. The House and Senate should pass a bill stopping the 350 billion and pass a bill that funds infrastructure only until they can plan what to do with the rest of the money. Make 25%-50% of the money available immediately for infrastructure projects that can get started now. STOP giving the money to the crooks in the banking and financial industry that got us into this disaster....aka Larry Summers...will NOT get us out.

Unfortunately I am still not seeing any progressive concrete actions concerning our economy...Obama and his administration have a golden opportunity to get it right....I'm afraid he's going to prefer compromise to successful action.

Obama is smart so who the heck is he working for? Us or the Larry Summer financial types that got us into this mess?


Even Hutus Dispute Charges that Tutsi General Nkunda Committed Atrocities in Kiwanja

Although Rwandan forces have indeed just arrested General Nkunda after, apparently, some deal was cut with the DR Congo, it is not clear whether they will extradite him to the Congolese government. The latter, however, is eager to blame all their problems on Nkunda. For example, read this excerpt from a January 23, 2009 New York Times article:

Kikaya bin Karubi, a member of Congo’s Parliament, said General Nkunda’s arrest “could be the beginning of the end of all the misery.”

“Look what happened at Kiwanja,” he said, referring to a small Congolese town where United Nations officials said General Nkunda’s forces went door to door, summarily executing dozens of civilians in November.

However, even though General Nkunda is a Tutsi, the Hutus of Kinshasa are incensed that he is being falsely accused by the UN and others of atrocities in Kiwanja, so much so that they sent out this response, originally in French, which has now been translated:

Object: Clarifications regarding the killings at KIWANJA on the dates 11/04/08 and 11/05/08.

To the Honorable National and Provincial elected officials of Rutshuru at KINSHASA and at GOMA.

Honorable Deputies,

We, members of the community HUTU of the Rutshuru base, having kept pace with the waves of declarations of honorable Jean Bosco BARIHIMA, Ernest KYAVIRO and NYABIRUNGU MWENE SONGA as well as those of President Jean SEKABUHHORO of the

HUTU community of KINSHASA on the topic of the events at KIWANJA of the 4th and 5th of November where there was death of men.

All in adopting their worry for protection of the population, we nonetheless have deplored the contradictions concerning the description of acts that logically each person would have been able to refer to at the root for reliable facts if at least they still have confidence in this basis that they pretend to defend. At the regard of this confusion certainly sown by a spirit of contempt of the base and with the goal of distracting whoever would like to establish the truth, we have insisted on carrying a formal denial regarding all the allegations given over to the media.

1. History

The CNDP entered KIWANJA on 10/28/08 without beating or killings. All the population is witness and the FARDC came to avoid the removal of men, of whom certain are not yet found at present, goods such as the bikes, mopeds, and cars without talking of looted merchandise. No deputy mentioned/recalled this case as if it is within the rights of the FARDC to act thus.

2. The Acts

On 11/04/08, just after a week of total tranquility, the MAIMAI-PARECO-FDLR coalition, presents itself at KIWANJA in the middle of the day in order to sow/spread desolation. Alas many among them were in civilian clothes but armed. This resulted in total confusion. Some officers and servicemen of the CNDP and some journalists and their drivers were taken, fires were set all over the city without response by the CNDP and their forces came in. On 11/05/2008 the response of the CNDP intervenes and the coalition is in the middle of crushing defeat. It is in the course of these affronts that there were many deaths principally in the MABUNGO Quarter where the combats took place. Subsequently well understood is the massive displacement of the population.

3. The Damages
a) Human Damages:

In the city of KIWANJA and its surrounding areas, 74 people, of which 5 in uniforms had found the dead (probably should read “were found dead”) without counting the bodies of combatants transported by their own. Among the wounded, we have inventoried ten found in health facilities. All 69 civilian killings belong to all ethnicities, contrary to declarations of deputies/representatives who abusively attribute them to their ethnic group. We are not able to attribute the responsibility for these events to the CNDP while these people are dead, several on the battlefield and another in the crossfire between the CNDP and all the coalition.

The attached list of victims will be authentic to those who would like to know the truth. Among the people taken (word could mean “rescued” or “kidnapped”), three of the CNDP were miraculously able to escape, two were killed by the MAIMAI while the two journalists and their chauffeur were returned to the MONUC.

b) Material Damages
The damages are enormous and won’t be precisely known until the effective resumption of activities, but the basics return (are returned?) in pillaging merchandise, cows, vehicles, telephones, money, household goods, and the destruction of buildings by bombs. We consider that the statements made by the deputies/representatives are nothing but treason given that they were published without consultation of the only reliable source on the ground; we demand that they provide other elements or proof that is contrary to this here.

We also remind them that some such erroneous declarations do nothing but fuel the hatred between authority and those managed instead reinforcing peaceful cohabitation.

Thus, we think you to be sufficiently clarified

For the community,

The President: Mamert Muzige

The Reporter: Jean Paul Rurahoze

The Councilors: 1. Pascal Uzamukanda
2. Patrice Mpabuka

Rugby League 2008 World Cup Final Highlights

I have been so distracted by politics for the last few months, that I didn't even know who won the Rugby World Cup last year.

Proof that we can post something other than politics all the time.

Gaza in Ruins: A news special - Part 1 - 23 Jan 09

The sidebar for this video:

The Gaza Strip is a land in ruins, devastated by 22 days of war.

In this news special from Gaza, Al Jazeera focuses on the damage from the war - the human, physical and political damage suffered by people here, people already weakened by an 18-month siege at the hands of Israel.

Friday, January 23, 2009

General Laurent Nkunda: the Congo’s George Washington or Western Media Villain?

General Nkunda (center) being interviewed in his CNDP compound in eastern Congo. (photo by G. Nienaber)

Rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda generally gets short shrift in the Western media as a “Bad Guy”, while the president of the DR Congo, Joseph Kabila, generally gets a “Good Guy” pass. But is that the case in reality? How many times has the lazy, opinionated, power-worshipping mainstream media gotten it wrong in the past? WMDs in Iraq, the “successful” coup against Chavez in Venezuela, the Gulf of Tonkin, the “Good Guy” Diem in Vietnam, the “Good Guy” Saakashvili vs. the “Bad Guy” Russians in Georgia, and on and on. Is it possible that, once again, the Western media has got it all wrong, this time in the Congo, scene of one of the worst nightmares on the planet? Getting it wrong here could sink an already devastated country into the lower rings of Hell.

Independent journalist Georgianne Nienaber certainly thinks the media has it backwards, and she has just returned from the eastern Congo, where she has been gathering facts on the ground, including a face-to-face interview with General Nkunda, which is a lot more than other mainstream so-called journalists have done. Here, in her own words, is what she has to say about him, as well as a postscript timeline to bring the reader up to date regarding rumors and reports that Nkunda has been arrested or overthrown as chairman of the CNDP:

Nkunda: More than One Side to the Story

by Georgianne Neinaber

January 23, 2009

I was completely surprised upon meeting National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) General Laurent Nkunda that his first words to me were to describe me as a “nature writer” who was in Congo to protect the gorillas. The General had obviously done his homework on me, but had no clue as to my personal and moral evolution regarding humanitarian issues in DRC since 2007.

Western media has fabricated an image of Nkunda as an eccentric warlord and murderer who is to be despised and feared. Nkunda is a military leader and military men kill. Nkunda admits that war has its consequences. Every army in the history of humankind has been responsible for atrocities, and citizens of the United States need look no further than Abu Ghraib. Who is ultimately to be blamed?

An underground resistance movement arranged the interview with Nkunda. This movement is not populated with wild-eyed freedom fighters, but rather by serious professionals and government officials who believe that Nkunda offers the possibility of hope and change for a country riddled with corruption.

Aussie journalist Helen Thomas, an American medical doctor and a former member of the RPF army, joined me in entering rebel controlled territory. The most difficult and stressful part of our entry was a Ugandan border check where an inebriated Ugandan official demanded $50 each to guarantee our “safety.” After much arguing and discussion, a call came from “Chairman” Nkunda that we were his guests and should be allowed to pass the short distance to the Congolese border, where we were met by well-trained and disciplined officers of the CNDP army. This was obviously no rag- tag group of freedom fighters. CNDP “Captain Sahara” met us with a polite “bon jour” and assisted our crossing into Nkunda’s 21,000 square kilometers of territory.

Entering the rebel stronghold was far less intimidating than entering the United States Coast Guard monitoring station at Carrollton Avenue in New Orleans, Louisiana.

At no time while under Nkunda’s rule did we feel frightened or threatened. On the contrary, I can say that I am absolutely terrified of the regular Congolese army (FARDC), which controls Goma and points north and west. This is not an investigative report, but suffice it to say that we received many instances of personal testimony describing harassment and shootings by the FARDC. A human rights worker told how the windows of his aid vehicle were shot out by a uniformed FARDC solder riding a motorcycle on the pulverized tarmac that passes as a “road” through the spine of Virunga Park. The same aid worker said he felt safe while crossing into CNDP held territory.

Refugees related stories of being chased from their homes by “soldiers,” but could seldom identify which army. In one instance in FARDC territory north of Goma a woman said she was “chased by Mai Mai,” and in one other instance a woman said she was “told” that it was the CNDP that attacked her village, but that she “never saw them.”

Congolese president Joseph Kabila rules through intimidation and fear. His army (FARDC) is undisciplined and guilty of many more atrocities than the allegations leveled against Nkunda. Kabila is clearly exploiting the wealth of Congo as much or more than Mobutu did, yet Western interests, including the United States support him. Dan Rather recently did an excellent report “All Mine,” which is available for $.99 on iTunes.

Human Rights Watch has also condemned the suppression of free speech in DRC under Kabila. (reference)

We have heard again and again that Kabila owns homes all over the world, including a mansion in Malibu, California. Instead of persecuting Nkunda, perhaps the New York Times might want to do an investigative report on this.

In CNDP held territory, villagers were in extreme poverty by Western standards, but had gardens, pigs in the yard, flowers growing, and they happily waved and shouted as we drove along the road cut by Nkunda’s army. Villagers were engaging and offered none of the blank, sullen stares or frightened responses one gets in FARDC controlled sectors.

As far as Nkunda is concerned, human rights groups will have fits of apoplexy as I report that he was completely appropriate in demeanor. I cannot judge the man, but the medical doctor who was with us remarked that Nkunda exhibited no grandiose, narcissistic or paranoid traits. He is certainly charismatic and one must always be on guard when in the presence of charisma, but my impression of Nkunda is that he is a man who has dedicated his life toward the liberation of Congo from foreign interests, graft and corruption.

Nkunda was surprised when I told him about the distorted photos that accompany articles about him in the Western media. Weird angles, harsh shadows and imaginative prose by writers intent upon furthering writing careers, rather than journalism, have dominated the New York Times and other western print media.

Nkunda was courteous, engaging and welcoming. As the dirt floor flooded during the course of our interview, Nkunda became concerned for our gear and equipment. This was hardly the reaction one would expect from an imperious warlord. Was it a snow job? I doubt it. He seems serious about reaching out to Western interests. And I am not ashamed to say that I enjoyed our informal conversations after the interview. Why? Because I found a human connection that involved serious concern for the people of Congo.

I shared dinner with the man as an intense Virunga thunderstorm raged outside of the open-sided rondeval with a shredded tarp from UNICEF providing the only buffer from the wind. We talked politics, family life, and shared a pleasant conversation..

Eating dinner with the general (photo by G. Nienaber)

I am ashamed to know that some American journalists who provide reports that shape world opinion have been too frightened to enter Congo to see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears.

It was horrible to learn from sources in Rwanda that a noted US reporter was terrified to meet with Nkunda. Instead, he paid for information, instead of accepting an invitation for an interview as we did.

Journalists should be witnesses. We should tell the story. We can use our gift of turning thoughts into words to describe the conditions we encounter in the world. Let the politicians and think tanks determine policy. If we are able to present a clear picture, perhaps the politicians will be forced to act in the name of humanity.

What should I say when a member of the resistance comes to me and asks with tears in his eyes, “Why won’t journalists tell the truth?” I heard the phrase “we are crying,” many times from Congolese.

We were invited back to visit at any time. And Nkunda had a request. Would I try to bring a Congolese American to visit with him?

Then, there was the final question. Would the new Obama government listen to what we reported with an open mind for the Congolese? I replied that I was very small but that I would shout in a loud voice on behalf of the Congolese people. I also told him that I did not know how I would do this.

Nkunda told me, and I will never forget this, “Don’t worry about what you will do. You are “doing” now. By coming here, by speaking on behalf of the Congolese people when you write about the conditions in Goma and in the camps, by speaking openly about this, you are doing. You are doing.”



January 3, 2009: Australian Journalist Helen Thomas and I meet with General Laurent Nkunda in occupied territory. We spend over six hours with him. Nothing seems unusual in terms of stress or concern on the part of his troops. Peace talks are scheduled to begin in four days in Nairobi. The CNDP Commissioner of Foreign Affairs, Rene Abandi, joins us for discussion. Abandi is scheduled to be at the peace talks.

January 5, 2009: While in Goma, rumors begin to surface that Nkunda has been removed from power of the CNDP. Sources from within the CNDP tell us this is not true. We wait.

Western mainstream media picks up a consistent drumbeat castigating Nkunda. The stories originate in Dakar, and Kinshasa. No one is reporting this from our location.

January 12, 2009: Posting from Dakar, Senegal, the New York Times said, "Disagreements over tactics and power have split the once seemingly invincible Congolese (CNDP)."

Nkunda vehemently denied the NYT article in a phone interview with us.

One thing is clear. The Congolese Regular Army (FARDC), under President Joseph Kabila, attacked the CNDP in August 2008, and quickly lost ground despite superior numbers. The attack shattered a tentative peace agreement. The NYT account supports BBC reports that Nkunda is fighting off an attempt to topple him by CNDP faction leader Jean Bosco Ntaganda.

"This is absolutely not true," Nkunda said from his location in north Kivu Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Nkunda said that Ntaganda was "unable to move more than one kilometer from his home," and was surrounded by CNDP forces. Nkunda estimated that Ntaganda had "as few as 36 soldiers" with him.

January 19: Rwanda announces a “joint operation” with DRCongo that has been agreed upon since December 2008 in which troops will attempt to disarm remnants of the Interahamwe in eastern Congo. Leaders of the FDLR are responsible for the genocide of 1994. Nkunda has said all along he is protecting his people from attacks by the FDLR.

Thomas and I are no longer in country and must rely upon emails and phone conversations with sources on ground in Congo.

One source close to the CNDP described a meeting which took place in Gisenyi, Rwanda in which the CNDP, Ntaganda, Congolese General Numbi and “others Rwandese and Congolese staff were invited.”

“In that meeting the chief of Staff of Rwanda told our high commander that there was a plan and they must be part of it and for that they must accept Ntaganda as their chief of staff. It was an order and it wasn't negotiable. And they said that General Nkunda must be removed as the chairman of CNDP and that they won't deal with him.

“Of course our high commander refused at first to sign the document which was already prepared, but the Chairman (Nkunda) told them to sign and they did so.

“The chairman is in danger because he has an army which is loyal to him and as long as he is around the plan can't be carried out as they want.”

Apparently there was a deal between DRC and Rwanda that no one in the Western media has reported.

Sources say Rwanda assured Kabila that Rwanda was capable of destroying Nkunda. They tried to accomplish this by installing Ntaganda as head of the CNDP, but the plan fell apart when the CNDP army remained loyal to Nkunda.

Sources say Ntaganda was given $250,000 and promise of amnesty from his indictment by The Hague for war crimes.

Rwanda sends 3000 soldiers into DRC.

Another source, not connected to the CNDP, described the situation.

“In all honesty, I just don't know what is happening at the moment, and I suspect it wasn't exactly planned.

“Like so many things over here, it's basically quite messy.

“I think Nkunda has taken a slight hit, because he was not able to quell Bosco's (Ntaganda’s) insubordination, but as far as I can tell, he is still very much in the driving seat of CNDP, but he's obviously going to have to make some compromises if the Rwandan and Congolese governments are behind Bosco's initiative.

“It was reported that MONUC have been blocked out of Rutshuru, but that's not actually true. For now everything is very calm, but we're bracing ourselves. A major coalition assault on the FDLR may well be in the pipeline, but I can't believe they'll actually succeed in bringing them in.

“We're quite worried about the consequences, in terms of insecurity, but at a very superficial level, I can't help hoping that something good may come of the fact that CNDP, FARDC and RPF are together, if it means the fighting will stop and the IDPs can return to their homes without getting attacked.”

January 23, 2009: From source close to Nkunda:

“I know you've heard the news that the Chairman has been arrested, that is not the truth but he came by himself to Gisenyi last night to meet the Chief of staff of Rwanda. He is at Gisenyi in a hotel but anything can happen. Although the option of arresting him will be a huge mistake because there will be a terrible fight between CNDP and RDF and FARC. “

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Strange weapons by the Israelis in Gaza!.... an Interview with French doctor inside Gaza

Has Israel been using diabolical new weapons on Gazans. Was the assault on Gaza used for new weapons experiments. This must be investigated Big Time!

Sidebar for this video:

Dr. Jan Brommundt talks on Aljazeera TV about the use of strange weapons in Gaza against the civilians. You can see the images of devastation by the Israeli army in Gaza, as well as the people who are trying to recover dead bodies from under the rubble.

Break the Silence Join the UN Call for Justice in the USA

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture called on the US to charge X-President George Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for their participation in torture activities and the mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

According to-Manfred Nowak-the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture:
"Judicially speaking, the United States has a clear obligation" to bring proceedings against Bush and Rumsfeld...He noted Washington had ratified the UN convention on torture which required "all means, particularly penal law" to be used to bring proceedings against those violating it.

"We have all these documents that are now publicly available that prove that these methods of interrogation were intentionally ordered by Rumsfeld," against detainees at the US prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Nowak said.

"But obviously the highest authorities in the United States were aware of this," added Nowak, who authored a UN investigation report on the Guantanamo prison.

Bush stepped down from power Tuesday, with Barack Obama becoming the 44th president of the United States.

Asked about chances to bring legal action against Bush and Rumsfeld, Nowak said: "In principle yes. I think the evidence is on the table."

At issue, however, is whether "American law will recognise these forms of torture." (Source)
Join the calls for justice to restore the rule of law. Contact President Obama via the White House Switchboard at 202-456-1414. You can also send a comment to President Obama via this form. I would suggest adding VP Dick Cheney to the list since he has publicly stated that he approved various techniques (that international law defines as torture).

Break the silence that allowed Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld to commit war crimes in our name.

UPDATE--There are glitches with the White House Switchboard...the comments line is NOT set up and the WH Switchboard does not appear to be answering calls....there is just a message going on and on about staying on the line to speak to a White House operator. Unfortunatley at 8:32 am the WH operator who took my call rudely cut me off and transferred me to the non-existent comment line AFTER I had told her the comment line was not set up and taking calls. I suggest you ask for the operator number so they don't hang up on you. If enough folks call maybe the comment line will be set up quickly and the Obama White House Team will then be ready from day 2 to take citizen input. Heaven forbid we should have to wait until Day three or later.

I LOVE typing, thinking and saying PRESIDENT OBAMA.....I have high hopes that PRESIDENT OBAMA will listen to the majority of folks calling for justice and single payee universal health insurance....and the carpetbagger lobbyists will be forced to fade off into the sunset.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Voice of the Wetlands Festival 2008, Part 1: Mr Bill and the Gulf Restoration Network

I wrote a series of articles about the threatened Louisiana wetlands and the related Voice of the Wetlands Festival commencing in late October of 2008 for Star insisted that I post them here too. I would have done so earlier, but the horrific assault on Gaza preempted doing so for three weeks. But, better late than never, so here is Part One.

Original Content at

October 21, 2008

Voice of the Wetlands Festival 2008, Part 1: Mr Bill and the Gulf Restoration Network

By Mac McKinney

We are in Houma, Louisiana, Terrebonne Parish

I just travelled to the fifth annual Voice of the Wetlands Festival in Houma, Louisiana on October 10 thru 12, and let me tell you, it was quite an experience. The purpose of this annual festival is two-fold, to put on one Hell of a Southern/Cajun music festival, and to raise awareness of the plight of the wetlands in the five Gulf Coast states, focusing particularly on Louisiana. At a certain point the two goals merge, because music and art, as Tab Benoit points out, speak truth to the heart, and the truth of this festival is that the wetlands must be restored, or we will all pay dearly for their loss as millions of people are slowly displaced and precious resources, landmarks and cultures disappear. We have already experienced the first shocks with Katrina and Rita in 2005, and most recently with Gustav and Ike, and there are many more hurricanes to come. Meanwhile, Nature's own defense against hurricanes, the wetlands, are disappearing at a frightening rate. This trend must be reversed, and rapidly.

Houma itself lies in Terrebonne Parish, which, along with Lafourche Parish, suffered considerable flooding and other storm damage from Hurricane Gustav and Ike back in September, so much so that Tab Benoit, president of Voice of the Wetlands, said that they weren't sure they could even put the festival on until the last minute. Two local levees had actually given way, sending Gulf waters roaring into coastal towns, so it was questionable whether Terrebonne would recover in time to make the festival even feasible.

Two local levees were breached in southern Louisiana during Hurricane Ike. (A photo sent to me from lower Lafourche Parish during Hurricane Ike, shot by Tab Benoit's manager.)

Flying to New Orleans early on Friday the 10th with my wife, and after returning for several hours to the Lower Ninth Ward as well as other areas of the Big Easy for an update on conditions (which I will write about later), we drove through the backwater side of New Orleans, moving southwest, on down toward Houma. As we reached Terrebonne Parish I began to see large piles of debris that had been gathered up and stacked near houses and businesses situated just off the highways I was driving along, a sober reminder of what had just happened a few weeks earlier. Finally, after a few wrong turns and retracing a few roads, we reached my hotel right after dusk.

After tossing our stuff in our room and then my checking my email on the hotel lobby computer, we headed out for the festival before it got too late. After following the hotel clerk's directions a little too literally and then barging into a family restaurant full of customers and a Cajun band to ask for new ones, I was soon able to find the venerable Southdown Plantation, venue for the Voice of the Wetlands Festival.

Southdown Plantation

Fortunately, it was still early enough to be able to catch the last few hours of the opening afternoon/evening activities. A band was just ending its set when we walked onto the grounds, so we wandered over to the large, semi-enclosed public section of the plantation estate, where they had set up, among a multitude of other things, a small stage, several rows of chairs, a big white screen and a sound system. Tab Benoit was in the middle of a short speech on the wetlands, and as we settled in, he finished up and introduced the next speaker, who turned out to be, to my surprise and delight, none other than Walter Williams, creator of that famous pop culture icon, Saturday Night Live's Mr. Bill. Walt actually lives in New Orleans, where he has shared all the terrors and blessings of the last several years, and he does far more than create tragic-masochistic Play-Doh icons, for he is a heavy-duty wetlands activist, stand-up comedian, voluminous film producer, screenplay writer and much, much more. Walt, I might add, is also an occasional contributor to

Tab Benoit and Walter Williams - a slow shutter speed distorted this shot.

Tonight he was lecturing and showing videos about the loss of the wetlands, and what we can do to stop it. And while he was talking, Tab was moving merrily through the audience, handing out one of Walt's latest DVDs, called "Restoring Our Coast – Who Pays". Nice documentary, by the way, with 1) a section on individuals struggling to come to grips with the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans, called "Hard Road Home"; 2) a crack-up humor section where none other than Mr. Bill himself and his faithful dog Spot give us a bevy of public service announcements on and excursions into the wetlands; 3) a lively, very informative section called "New Orleans – the Natural History"; plus 4) a five-minute quick version on saving the wetlands. You, the reader, can actually see all this simply by going to Go ahead and educate yourself, and have some laughs doing so, at the expense of Mr. Bill.

Oh Noo! Mr. Bill

Click here to visit the wetlands with Mr. Bill.

After Walt was through, I wandered over to the food line and bought some fine Cajun cooking, and then crossed the lawn to the well-lit in multi-colors music stage where my wife had already joined the audience. The last set of the night was just starting and the Mike Zito Band was up at bat to start things off. Zito, who has a classic, raspy Blues voice, put on one fine performance. He travelled all the way from Texas, by the way, to do this gig. Meanwhile, the band kept transforming as more and more guitarists kept walking onto the stage, greats like C.C. Adcock, John Lisi, Ronnie Fruge, Joe Stark and Tab Benoit. What the evening was now evolving into was the 5th Annual Guitar Showdown, and what a showdown it was, sending the audience, which was now crowding around the stage, into more and more rapture and abandon as each guitarist tried to one-up the previous one with his own solo, keeping everyone clapping, shouting or dancing right on up until the last note of the evening. Then we went back to the hotel and crashed.

Guitar Showdown: eight guitar players on stage

The next day, Saturday, we got back to Southdown right after the festival reopened at Noon, and spent a good while shuffling between the music stage and the wetlands education area that encompassed, besides last night's stage, various information tables and displays. (I would digress, occasionally, to the awesome Cajun food lines or the beer stand.) Info tables included a nuts and bolts ecological exhibit run by environmental sciences students from Nicholls State University, a campaign table for Senator Mary Landrieu (politicians from both parties were invited), who has been a strong advocate for wetlands restoration, and of particular interest to me, an info table run by the Gulf Restoration Network ( I hadn't heard of them before, and was quite impressed with what they're all about. I started talking to one of the representatives, Collin Thomas, about the wetlands, and he sounded authoritative enough that I asked him to do an interview for OpEdNews. Here is what he had to say:

Collin Thomas, spokesman for the Gulf Restoration Network

Interview with Collin Thomas, Gulf Restoration Network Spokesman

Mac: I'm down here at the Voice of the Wetlands Festival. There are a lot of environmental groups down here, and I ran into one fellow. What's the name of your organization?

Collin: We're the Gulf Restoration Network.

M: And your name, sir?

C: My name is Collin Thomas.

M: Tell me about your network

C: We're a non-profit organization based out of New Orleans. We've been around for about fifteen years now. We work in all five Gulf States and we're made up of diverse groups, community groups, environmental organizations, as well as individual members.

M: What specifically are you doing here today at the Festival?

C: Well today, we're down here - this is our second year here - working with the Voice of the Wetlands and we're focusing on our Natural Defenses Campaign, which is partly public education to raise awareness about losing a football field worth of wetlands every 45 minutes due to coastal erosion and what we can do to mitigate this impact, which also involves putting pressure on congressional and state legislatures to make coastal restoration a priority issue.

M: How much is the loss of the wetlands a man-made problem?

C: Well, a lot of it is attributed to men. Some of the actions of the Army Corps of Engineers, with the diversion of the Mississippi from its original floodplain, the (indiscernible) river diversions, and they have a couple of (indiscernible) projects going on right now, so we need it (wetlands awareness) on a large scale, especially down here in the Terrebonne Parish area.

M: By the way, how badly was Terrebonne (Parish) hit by Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Gustav?

C: Well, from what I've heard from the Voice of the Wetlands website, Gustav pretty much came right up their alley and did a lot of flooding, and even Ike, even though it just passed by down there, did a tremendous amount of flooding from just the rains and there's a lot of wind damage. And wetlands are tremendously important in mitigating these attacks, because for every three to four miles they have, it scoops up to an entire foot of storm surge.

M: I heard Tab Benoit say last night that there was a ten foot surge, and that's happened in the past, but never with the consequences with Ike.

C: Perhaps, I'm not actually sure about what he said - my first day here - but I'm sure, he lives in the area and he's familiar with the issues.

M: OK, I also heard that several levees gave way, not Federal levees, but local levees.

C: That very well could be the case. I haven't heard anything about that specifically, but I know there was damage caused by the storm.

M: What part do the oil companies play in this problem?

C: Well, right now there's a lot of canals they're not using, that they use for exploration and for piping resources that they've already taken and that they leave open, and that allows the saltwater to intrude into those wetlands and kill a lot of the marsh flora that exist there.

M: Once the saltwater gets into the marshes and bayous, it's an all-downhill sort of thing?

C: Pretty much. There's a short period of time where you can mitigate the impact, but it's very, very limited and also, when they dredge these canals, they have what they call "spill banks" which are the leftover sediment that they try to make sort of temporary levees. What happens is when these storm surges come in, they're funneled and channeled into these canals. They spill over, and then they get into the wetlands that are behind these spill banks and that causes further erosion. Our estimates for the oil and gas companies (responsibility) would be about 40 to 60% of the wetlands losses suffered since the 1960s or so.

M: Wow. Are you working with universities?

C: Absolutely! I'm actually the campus organizer for the Gulf Restoration Network, and what we do, on campuses is that we go and present the different information to classes, be it from sociology to biology to chemistry, pretty much anyone who would be interested in the scientific or the advocacy area of our work, and then we have internships available where they assist on donor campaigns, campaign organizing, community outreach, research and a number of other things on a wide range of issues.

M: How does global warming relate to the local problems?

C: Well locally you know, first of all, you have the rise in sea level which, with a lot of Southern Louisiana at sea level or below sea level, naturally plays a part in saltwater intrusion as well as magnifying the intensity of hurricanes, the frequency of large hurricanes, as well as how far a storm surge can go because it's kind of that vicious cycle where the salt water is intruding, it's killing wetlands more rapidly, also the sea level rise which is allowing more water to be readily available to be pushed inland from storm surge.

M: You had said something earlier about asking the governors in the area to get involved in confronting global warming.

C: Yes, that's one of our campaign issues right now. Our global climate change staffer, Casey DeMoss Roberts, is putting together a (proposal), focusing now on getting Governor Jindal to bring up, in the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, which is made up of all the Gulf state governors, to make global climate change a priority issue for the region, because right now it's not and we think that's a mistake, because we are already starting to see the impacts of climate change, and we have to prepare for those ones that we're fairly certain are going to occur, as well as to begin mitigating our impact, our contributions to global climate change.

M: Are you in contact with any of the countries in the Caribbean? Are any of the countries in the Caribbean trying to do anything like you're trying to advise?

C: Not that I'm aware of right now. We're focused mainly on the United States, but there are Caribbean countries as well as Latin American countries that share the Gulf of Mexico.

M: Well, that's a lot of good information right now, so thank you for that.

C: Well thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity to get this information out there.

If you want to learn more about the Gulf Restoration Network, or even get involved with them as a volunteer or intern, or become a member or donate a few bucks, go to


While we're on the subject, I want to go into a little more detail about how saltwater intrusion affects the wetlands, because I don't think that is understood very well by the average citizen, so I am inserting this paragraph from a website called Mission 2010 New Orleans, for your information: click here for the actual website.

Salt water intrusion

Written by Sara Barnowski and Leigh Casadaban

Salt water intrusion is a major cause of wetland loss and is increased by canal systems. Currently, there are 10 major navigation canals and countless smaller ones winding intricately through the wetlands of southeast Louisiana. These canals are used for transportation for oil companies that drill in the wetlands, and for the agricultural areas in the region. However, they connect the inland, freshwater wetlands with the Gulf of Mexico. This increases the salinity of the freshwater areas causing vegetation deterioration and land loss. Also, because of the flow of traffic through the canals and the instability of the surrounding soil, the wetlands are very easily eroded. Consequently, the brackish water penetrates even further into the wetlands. This increase in salinity is toxic to many of the plant species that grow there. Much of the time the community cannot handle the sudden increase in salinity, and the plants die. The fewer plants there are in the wetlands the more unstable the soil is because the plants' root systems hold much of the substrate together. The loose soil is then more easily eroded, which connects the vicious circle of erosion and plant loss.

To return now to my narrative, after I interviewed Collin, I put my pen and small recorder in my pocket, grabbed a beer and headed back to the music across the grass. Southern Cross was up and their lead singer, Nicki Rhodes, was really cooking and the audience was lovin' it. More about today's bands in Part 2.

Southern Cross on stage


Inside A Congolese Displaced Persons Camp: Children Cling To Our Arms, Begging For Human Touch (PHOTOS)

Independent journlaist Georgianne Nienaber continues to write her eye-witness reports about the horrors besetting humanity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Here is an excerpt from her latest article at Huffington Post.

Australian journalist Helen Thomas was the first to ask the question. "Do you find it hard to believe that we are able to function here and do our work?"

We were wading through a literal sea of humanity housed on a volcanic landscape that mirrored Dante's Inferno. Children clung to our arms as if our limbs were the branches of trees. The doctor warned us to avoid touching, since disease was present in every snotty nose and dirty hand that reached for comfort. You cannot say no to the begging for human touch, and soon rivers of green, yellow, and brown fluids from runny noses cover arms and hands and clothing, and eventually you give up trying to clean it off. The stench is overpowering--13,360 adults and 7,000 children crammed into huts unfit for animals. It is a little over a week since Christmas day and it occurs to you that even HE was born into better conditions than this.
(For the full article with photos, click here.)

Virginia's Sexist Fashion Police

I found the fashion police post so abhorrent that I can not provide a link to the site.  But the initials of this VA blog are NLS .   This blogger found fault with a dress that a woman candidate chose to wear to an event.

No mention was made of men who were wearing tuxedo tops with their jeans.  Seems a bit hypocritical to me.

Plus there is a "moral" aspect that men like to apply to women and their clothes.  But I see these "bozo's" dating women wearing the exact clothes they find fault with if the woman should aspire to higher office.

Sexism is sexism is's outdated but obviously alive and well in Virginia politics.  Hopefully, folks will not let their silence condone the -isms that continue to permeate Virginia's psyche.


An Independent AG

Wow...What a difference!!

Hopefully this AG will be willing to restore the rule of law and send a strong message so our highest officials will know that they are bound by the laws and if they choose to distort and break laws they will be held accountable.  Isn't the deterrence factor crucial in any legal system?  Ours is definitely broken and needs to be fixed asap.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Rachel Maddow Show: Richard Engel Reporting From Gaza

This Rachel Maddow video discusses Israel's media planning and strategy to time and spin the war on Gaza, planning that began well before the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel was put into effect in later June, 2008, according to reporter Richard Engel, who has been talking to Israeli officials and states that Israel planned the Gaza operation for about a year. This means that for Israel, the ceasefire was only a Machiavellian tactic, not an end goal. Massive damage to Gaza was the end goal, and this was achieved, at the costs of thousands of deaths and injuries. The Lords of Karma are not pleased.

Buzz--Gazan Doctor wants answers from Israeli Military

This doctor is known for living a life of peace and reconciliation between Gaza and Israel. He lives in Gaza and work in an Israeli hospital. The Doctor says that his home has never harbored any fighters or terrorists. He is asking the Israeli military to tell him why Israeli tanks fired on his home and killed three of his daughters. He held a press conference and here's some footage.

If you go here you will see footage of the doctor in the hospital waiting room where one daughter and another niece are critically wounded and being treated.

The tensions remain very high and the ceasefire is fragile.

Gaza, War Aftermath Toll...

Welcome to Hell, compliments of the State of Israel, a state in the grip of the Shadow Archetype, to borrow a term from Carl Jung. 1.5 million Gazans have just been put through psychological, physical and mental Hell for 23 days, with well over a thousand dead, thousands more injured, many critically. This is a testament to the innate cruelty and sadism of homo normalis, to paraphrase another psychiatrist's terminology. The worst of it is that now the laws of Karma are kicking in. No one escapes the consequences of their actions in this universe, no matter how rich, how wealthy, how powerful, how vain.

Here is the sidebar for this video:

The Gaza Aftermath, Facts and Statistics.....
As of January 18, 2009.
اللهم انصر اهلنا في غزه
Breath Taken Images....

After 23 Days of Air, Land and Sea Attacks on The Gaza Strip the Death Toll is
1300 (Martyrs)
"Of Which"
417 Children
108 Women
120 Elders
14 Press Personal
The Number of the Injured so far is 5320.

Israel's fierce assaults on The Gaza Strip has destroyed over $2.1 Billion worth of Buildings, Roads, Pipes, Power Lines and other Infrastructure...

And the numbers are rising....


Monday, January 19, 2009

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Congolese Rebel Leader Denies Reports of His Ouster in Western Press

General Laurent Nkunda (photo by Georgianne Nienaber)

In the ongoing horror story that is the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there are reports and counter-reports that the main rebel army, the CNDP, is breaking apart into two camps. According to a New York Times report on January 11, 2008:

Gen. Laurent Nkunda, the leader of the Tutsi-dominated rebel group known as the C.N.D.P., is fighting off an attempt to topple him by Jean Bosco Ntaganda, his chief of staff, a ruthless fighter known as the Terminator who is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes, according to accounts from both camps. (source)

In fact a BBC report on January 5, 2009 was quoting allegations that Nkunda may have actually been overthrown, as well as denials by the same. A split would be a welcome development to Joseph Kabila, the president of the Congolese government and army, who has been losing battle after battle to the CNDP, but seasoned journalists should be asking just how true the reported split is and whether Kabila, more than just welcoming such a development, may actually be aiding and abetting any split.

Because communications between the media and the CNDP are difficult at best, it is always an effort to hear Nkunda's side of the story. However, two independent journalists, Georgianne Nienaber and Helen Thomas, did just that, traveling to Nkunda's compound in eastern Congo to interview him face-to-face in early January, prior to the above BBC report. Miss Nienaber recently filed her transcription of the interview at The Huffington Post, which you can click here to read.

Miss Nienaber now follows up that report with the results of a telephone interview Nkunda gave to journalists on January 12, which she has given me permission to post here at Mosquito Blog:

Congolese Rebel Leader Denies Reports of His Ouster in Western Press

Congolese sources allege $250,000 in bribes from Congolese General John Numbi to CNDP faction leader Bosco Ntaganda

General Laurent Nkunda leads the National Congress for the Defense of the People in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On January 12 Nkunda vehemently denied western news accounts of his ouster in a phone interview with independent journalists who were on the ground in the region and had met personally with Nkunda days before.

"This is absolutely not true," Nkunda said from his location in north Kivu Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Monday January 12.

The rival who challenged Nkunda's leadership was CNDP military chief of staff General Bosco Ntaganda, who accused Nkunda of obstructing peace efforts in the region on January 8.

This is the second time in recent months that Ntaganda has caused a controversy. In October, Ntaganda signed a statement announcing Nkunda's death, according to AFP reports.

Most major western news outlets are today reporting that CNDP faction leader Ntaganda is now in control of the CNDP following a meeting in Goma with alleged “senior officers” of the CNDP.

Contrary to the drumbeat present in western media that Nkunda has lost control of the CNDP; there is another side to the story.

The continuing reports of a split are puzzling to sources within the CNDP movement. Information gathered on Numbi and Ntaganda from sources within the CNDP was obtained weeks before the current move by Ntaganda.

Sources very close to Nkunda and professional members of the resistance maintain that Ntaganda has personal contacts and enhanced communication with the BBC and is in collusion with General John Numbi, the current chief of the Congolese Air Force, who was a prominent player in Ntaganda’s Goma press conference.

Nkunda confirmed reports from these civilian sources within the CNDP that Congolese General Numbi arranged for payment of $250,000 and promise of amnesty from Congolese president Joseph Kabila to destroy Nkunda.

Possessing no military training, Numbi was originally recruited by Congolese President Laurent Kabila and was promoted to his current rank by Joseph Kabila.

In "DRC Update: Building Security for the Elections," prepared before the last election, Jim Terrie in African Security Review wrote about General John Numbi, who remains a close confidant of Joseph Kabila:

"[He and others] declared support for President Kabila's re-election campaign, although they are contesting his Partie du Peuple pour la Réconstruction et la Démocratie (PPRD) in all other constituencies in Katanga. To achieve their objectives, they have supported the tribal 'Mai Mai' militias as well as urban gangs that are available for hire for political agitation and violence against political and ethnic opponents, including members of the Union pour la Démocratie et le Progrès Social (UDPS) party of Kabila's main opponent (at the time), Etienne Tshisekedi...."

The situation here is further complicated by the fact that the CNDP does not have access to the current news cycle. It may take days before they can react to stories appearing in international media.

Nkunda estimated that Ntaganda had "as few as 36 soldiers" with him, out of an estimated 7,000 in the CNDP.

Nkunda said Ntaganda "is suspended from command, and being followed by the disciplinary committee of the CNDP high command." Nkunda sent his military representatives to talk with Ntaganda and told him that he would be held accountable for his actions.

This was the second time in a week that Nkunda agreed to talk with the independent journalists. An interview was obtained with General Nkunda at his compound three days before the initial BBC reports of his ouster. >

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Poem for Gaza by Remi Kanazi

This poem was just written in response to the assault on Gaza by the prominent Palestinian-American poet Remi Kanazi, whose website is Poetic Injustice (

GAZA (Ceasefires) Tenuous but Holding, Both Sides Speak

Israel declared a ceasefire unilaterally early Sunday morning, Jan 18, which Hamas did NOT sign, so they did not cease their own hostilities for several more hours before declaring their own. Was there posturing going on. Yes, without a doubt.

So now we have two unilateral ceasefires, which is not exactly reassuring, since neither side is under compulsion to honor the other's. So forces for peace must act to firm peace up. Simultaneously, peace with JUSTICE must be sought, and that means investigating charges of war crimes on both sides, but even more importantly, the elephant in the living room must be confronted, and that is the Occupation. Until the Occupation is ended and Palestinians allowed a free and open state to exist in, there will never be peace.

Here is the sidebar for this video:

ITN (UK) - (Independent Television News)

Sunday 18 January 2009

Hamas announces ceasefire on Israel

Palestinian militant group Hamas has announced a ceasefire with Israel, giving the Jewish state one week to pull troops out of the Gaza strip.

It comes hours after the Israeli leaders voted to halt the offensive in region that has killed nearly 1,200 people.

A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said earlier that if a ceasefire held in the Hamas-ruled enclave, Israel could start the process of withdrawing its forces.

A Hamas official in Cairo, Ayman Taha, said: "Hamas and the factions announce a ceasefire in Gaza starting immediately and give Israel a week to withdraw."

The Islamist group said previously it would not stop its attacks as long as Israeli soldiers remained in the Gaza Strip.

Taha said Hamas was demanding the opening of all Gaza border crossings for the entry of "all materials, food, goods and basic needs".

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has touched down in the Middle East for an international summit on the crisis.

International leaders are holding a summit at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh which is to be co-chaired by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Also attending are United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and senior politicians from Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey and Jordan.

As he arrived in Egypt, Mr Brown announced an additional £20 million of British humanitarian aid and called for renewed efforts to find a lasting peace in the region.

In an apparent criticism of the scale of the Israeli response to Hamas rocket attacks, Mr Brown said "too many" innocent people had died in the 22-day assault on Gaza.

Mr Brown said the violence in Gaza must not halt the search for a path to peace, but should spur the international community on in its efforts to establish a sustainable two-state solution.

"This conflict has once again demonstrated the urgent need to forge a longer term settlement which gives security to both Israelis and Palestinians," he said.




At least 1,206 Palestinians, including 410 children, have been killed since the start of Israel's deadliest-ever assault on the territory on December 27, according to Gaza medics, who said another 5,300 people have been wounded.

Those slain in the war also include 109 women, 113 elderly people, 14 paramedics, and four journalists, according to Dr. Muawiya Hassanein, the head of Gaza emergency services.

Since the start of the operation10 Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed in combat or in rocket strikes. The army says more than 700 rockets and mortar rounds have been fired into Israel during that period.

Did Bush Ever Know Anything?

Finally George is honest enought to admit,"I dunnow." Unfortunately many of us have known this about you all along and seen the disastrous consequences of your "I dunnow" method of governing.

Hopefully this is a final Buzz Buzz on any member of the Bush family who is holding a nationally elected office. "Justice" and "compassion" are not strong suits for this elitist family.

Hopefully accountability and justice will be restored. Lots of veterans from the Iran Contra Scandal were recycled into the George Bush administration and this resulted in bigger disasters. It is absolutely necessary to hold these folks accountable for all the laws they broke...many of them are repeat offenders. We must be diligent and stop these massive criminal activities. We won't even have an idea of where we are and how we got here (much less how to solve our current crisis) without a thorough investigation of what the "'heck has been going on in our Nation's Capital. Some folks are already starting to sift through millions of the missing white house emails that after several years have "surprise" been found.

I always thought it was insane to wiretap the "powerless." I would LOVE to see a bill that demanded that every one of our leaders had to be on tape (unless they were in the bathroom or with family and friends (who were not also government officials). It's the folks in power that we need to keep a good eye on and know what is going on. But so much for my legislative fantasy.

Don't forget if you happen to run into George Bush show him the soles of your shoes. That is his legacy.

On Tuesday afternoon we will have an intelligent competent leader who is going to have to deal with the multiple disasters that Bush has left us. Let's all hope that Obama will do his job with integrity, honesty, competence and compassion.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

War Crimes du Jour: Another UN School in Gaza Hit by Shells - 17 January 2009)

Yet another UN school in Gaza has been hit by shell fire, and as usual, Israel immediately blames Hamas militants, stating that they were firing from the school. Each time the local UN officials have said there is absolutely no proof of this and that they have repeatedly given the Israeli military their coordinates and warned them that there are hundreds of refugees in their facilities.

How many times will Israel use this canard, I wonder? The world is not buying this. There are increasing calls that Israel be investigated for war crimes.

Sidebar for this Video:

UN school in Gaza hit by shells

Jan 17 - Palestinian death toll rises as Israel prepares to decide on a unilateral ceasefire.

At least another six Palestinians have been killed during a wave of Israeli raids on Gaza overnight. The casualties included two boys sheltering at a United Nations school hit by tank fire.

Paul Chapman reports.

UN condemns shelling of Gaza school

Saturday, 17 January 2009

A United Nations official has condemned an Israeli shelling attack that struck a UN school in the northern Gaza Strip and killed two people.

Spokesman Chris Gunness said the school was crowded with 1,600 people who had sought shelter from Israel's three-week offensive in Gaza.

It was latest incident in which Israeli fire aimed at militants has struck a UN facility during the offensive. Gunness says Israel had the coordinates of the school and knew it was being used as a shelter. He says there should be an investigation into possible war crimes, and that anyone who is guilty should be brought to justice.

The military was investigating the incident and had no immediate comment. But in similar cases, it has accused Hamas militants of staging attacks from schools, mosques and other civilian areas.


More than 1,150 Palestinians have been killed and 5,100 wounded since Israel began attacking Gaza on December 27 with an air blitz, and then moved in with ground forces a week later. A large majority of the dead are civilians.

Bringing Bush and Cheney to JUSTICE by Pepe Escobar

America has to deal with this or a) other countries will bring charges eventually and b) America will continue to exist in an ethical swamp, degenerating deeper from the moral rot of the political elite.

OpEdNews Guest Editorial: The Moral Dead Zone by Bob Koehler

Here is another guest editorial from This one will make you think hard.


Original Content at

January 16, 2009

The Moral Dead Zone

By Bob Koehler

“Mr. Ban said too many people had died and there had been too much civilian suffering.”

That almost bears repeating, but I won’t because I don’t believe it. Too many? In the moral dead zone of the human heart, perennially justified as “war” (evoking honor, triumph, glory), there’s no such thing as too much suffering. There’s no bleeding child or shattered family or contaminated water supply that can’t be overlooked in the name of some great goal or strategic advantage, or converted to fodder for the next round of hatred, revenge and arms purchase.

Ban Ki-Moon, the U.N. secretary general, about to embark on a peace and diplomacy tour of the Middle East, was speaking, of course, about the hellish conditions in the Gaza Strip, pummeled by Israel with modern weaponry and Old Testament fury for the last three weeks. Vengeance is mine, sayeth the coalition government. Close to a thousand have died. Many more thousands have been injured or displaced. Too many?

No. Not even close. If too many had died — if hell had reached its capacity, or some other limit had at last been achieved — something would change. The collective enterprise of human violence would convulse and start malfunctioning. Fear, perhaps, would mutate into courage, anger into forgiveness, hatred into love. Or at least we would start looking at what we’re doing . . . how do I say this? With evolved compassion? With an understanding, with a determination to survive, we now disdain and mock?

Israel’s invasion of Gaza is the world’s spotlight war right now, reaping headlines, global censure, a special endorsement from the U.S. Congress and, apparently, an audiotape hiss from Osama bin Laden, possibly from beyond the grave.

What all of these reactions do, it seems to me, is confer an unwarranted special status on the war, as though it were isolated, without a context any deeper than its accompanying propaganda. This forces us to try to understand the war strictly on its own terms — who started it? who’s the bad guy? who’s innocent? — rather than as an occurrence within a larger, dysfunctional system as deep as human history and as wide as planetary politics.

This war, and the nine or 10 other armed conflicts officially classified as wars that are going on right now — including wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (4 million dead since 1997), Darfur-Sudan (500,000 dead since 2003), Somalia (400,000 dead since 1988), Sri Lanka (80,000 dead since 1983), and of course Iraq (possibly a million or more dead) and Afghanistan (35,000 dead) — whatever they are on their own terms, are also symptoms of a human syndrome of self-destruction.

So are the local conflicts on city streets and other jungles that are too small to be called wars. So are the horrific aftermaths of conflicts that have officially ended, including poisoned environments, the ruined health of participants and bystanders, unexploded mines and bombs, the psycho-spiritual traumas that never go away, and the grievances that fester from generation to generation.

What links them in an immediate way is the global arms industry, as corrupt as it is invisible, which does a trillion dollars worth of business annually worldwide, is crucial to every major economy and is therefore served, either with overt collusion or discreet silence, by governments and the mass media.

But the problem is bigger than mere greed. The business of war, like war itself, defies rational control and containment because it is fed by the paradox of human fear. As we arm to protect ourselves and fight back, our enemy also arms, and thus is born, over and over again, the cycle of escalation, from which the cynical can profit handsomely. The industry of war is self-perpetuating.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that, as Anup Shah noted recently in an essay on the arms industry for, “The top five countries profiting from the arms trade are the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: the U.S.A., U.K., France, Russia and China.”

Thus world peace — at least the sort of peace that most of us envision, which is sustained by international cooperation and universal disarmament rather than subjugation and the capacity for hair-trigger retaliation — would challenge the status quo of the world’s largest economies, as they have come to constitute themselves.

As long as we stay trapped in the paradox of fear, we can’t even use our intelligence to save ourselves. We have employed it to serve only our self-destruction. The ultimate paradox is that the military industrial complex, that highest of high-tech human endeavors, about which Dwight Eisenhower sounded the alarm nearly half a century ago, is wedded to the most primitive of human emotions. We have become trapped in our collective reptile brain.

Only if we disarm our intelligence do we have a chance to find wisdom. And only wisdom can save us.

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Robert Koehler, an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist, is an editor at Tribune Media Services and nationally syndicated writer. You can respond to this column at or visit his Web site at

Gaza: Israel War Crimes in Gaza....Part 2

Here are pictures being sent out of Gaza that the Western media are largely not picking up. In fact, in my own local paper, we are lucky to get more than one AP report a day, usually with no photos.

This video shows how extensive the attacks on children have been.

Zionism, for the few of you who do not know, was a concept created by certain European Jews back in the 19th Century to create a Jewish state in the territory of Palestine by emigration and force of arms if necessary, which resulted in the creation of the state of Israel in 1947/48. Zionism has become associated with Israeli colonialism and race ideology and is criticized by many other Jews.

Israeli Refuseniks

Israeli law makes military service mandatory. The Israeli foot soldiers who are in Gaza are should not be viewed as volunteers. Those that refuse to serve have to have lots of courage, grit and determination in order to speak truth to power.