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Eviction Plans in the Cards for Zimbabwe's Landless Poor

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network

Oct. 20 (GIN) — President Robert Mugabe’s land reform initiative turned lives upside down in the year 2000 and now upside down again as the settlers who moved onto lands that white farmers once owned now find themselves facing eviction by the same government.

Approximately 8 million hectares of farmland owned by 3,000 white farmers in 1999 are now legally state-owned, according to the Valuation Consortium, a private, Harare-based body that collects information from evicted white farmers. According to the constitution, leases cannot be given to new owners until the dispossessed white farmers are compensated.

In the meantime, many of the new Black beneficiaries have neither security of tenure nor legal protection afforded to tenants and can be evicted at will.

This spring, the government announced a crackdown on settlers without proper ownership documents. “Those who settled themselves will be evicted,” said Douglas Mombeshora, minister of lands and rural resettlement. “Those farmers who have been staying for about 10 years should have their settlements formalized.”

Faber Chidarikire, minister of Mashonaland West, added, “People have been illegally occupying land and sometimes invading land which is not suitable for farming … Some people have settled on pastures, while others have invaded other people’s farms. We are going to evict these people.”

Deal or No Deal? Chibok Girls Still Held

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By Nayaba Arinde
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News


A myriad of stories is swirling around the Chibok girls.

April 14, armed men of Boko Haram (meaning “Western education is a sin”) kidnapped 276 school girls aged 16 to 18 from the village of Chibok in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno. There were reports last week of a cease-fire between the Nigerian government and accused kidnappers. Then hopes were dashed. Then there was news that the girls were about to be released. Then they weren’t.This past weekend, Boko Haram killed many villagers as they took another town in Borno State.

“Deal. Wait, no deal. Yes, deal. No, maybe,” mocked Ruth Evon Idahosa, lawyer and international activist. “In the wake of recent conflicting reports about the Nigerian government’s alleged cease-fire with militant group Boko Haram, those of us in the campaign to #BringBackOurGirls have been caught in the awkward arrhythmic dance between hope and hopelessness on the emotional roller coaster we have been forced to ride.

“As one of the campaign’s organizers, it is unfathomable that a little over six months later, the Nigerian government is still no closer to rescuing our daughters from what some of the 56 girls that courageously escaped their abductors described as a living hell.”

“The Nigerian government continued to contradict itself. Today it will talk about dialogue, tomorrow it will say it will destroy the sect, or that the sect does not exists at all,” AllAfrica.com Abubakar Umar Kari as stating. His comments come after six months of confusion. First Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan took weeks to acknowledged the kidnappings. Then the government said it never happened. Then they said they knew where the girls were but feared the girls would be used as human shields if the military went in with guns blazing. Then they said the girls had been freed, and then they said the girls were not freed. Confusion.

In the midst of this is the concern that Boko Haram may be an internationally created or funded organization set to undermine one of the most powerful countries on the African continent, especially as the controversial 2015 presidential elections loom.

Idahosa said, “Back in May when the Nigerian government brazenly announced to the world that ‘we know where the girls are,’ I, along with many other protestors around the world, were filled with hope that the nightmare would soon be over. However, as the hours turned to days, the days to weeks and the weeks to what has now been six months, the dance between hope and hopelessness continues to force an imbalance of unhealthy emotions that no human heart, especially the hearts of grieving parents, should have to endure.”

She concluded, “According to Nelson Mandela, ‘There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.’ On the heels of Boko Haram’s apparent breach of the alleged cease-fire less than 24 hours after it was negotiated by the Chadian government on behalf of Nigeria in Saudi Arabia, we are left with what arguably reflects the tortured soul of failed government and despicable extremism. We are left to continue to grasp for hope in light of the apparent darkness which sometimes shrouds uncertainty. Nonetheless, we are also aptly reminded that faith in light shines brightest in this darkness and that although caught in the tangled web of hope and hopelessness, we can still choose to believe, even if solely for the sake of children who can likely no longer believe for themselves, in the annihilating power of hope.”

The #TakeMeOffMute campaign was recently launched in Nigeria to amplify the voices of young women and girls, along with the #NoChildSexAbuse and the #NoRape campaigns.

Obama Stumps for Md. Gubernatorial Hopeful Brown

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By William J. Ford
Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer


President Barack Obama visited Prince George’s County Sunday for a get-out-the-vote rally, urging voters to cast a ballot in the Nov. 4 midterm elections and to support Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in his quest to become Maryland’s first African-American chief executive.

With about two weeks to go until voters head to the polls in the midterm elections, Obama told the majority-black audience at Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School in Upper Marlboro that Brown’s stances on education, the economy and other issues would benefit Marylanders more than those of his opponent, Republican Larry Hogan, 58.

“Anthony Brown devoted his entire life to fighting for you. This is what this election is all about,” Obama told the cheering crowd of 9,000. “Who is going to fight for you? You guys fight for him!”

Obama’s appearance at the political rally turned out to be the latest of several visits to the near-Washington jurisdiction in a year. It comes as Brown supporters are watching Hogan whittle down their candidate’s lead – an unexpected development in a state where Democrats overwhelmingly outnumber Republicans.

Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown waved to the crowd during a get-out-the-vote rally Sunday at Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School in Upper Marlboro. (Courtesy of the Anthony Brown campaign)

According to recent polls, Brown (D), 52, of Prince George’s, is leading Hogan, of Anne Arundel County, though the margin appears to be less than 10 percent. A recent Washington Post/University of Maryland poll of 549 likely voters showed Brown leading Hogan, 47 percent to 38 percent, with 11 percent of the respondents still undecided.

If Brown needed a boost in Prince George’s, the appearance by Obama in Wise’s gymnasium proved to be just what the doctor ordered. The upbeat two-hour event featured a band playing and plenty of thunderous applause for the nation’s chief executive and other Democrats who appeared at the microphone.

The esteem in which many Prince George’s residents hold the president was evident. When a man in the audience interrupted Obama by shouting out about immigration, the crowd responded by chanting “O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!” Law enforcement officials hustled the man away.

“I couldn’t quite hear the young man. I think he is concerned about immigration reform,” Obama said. “The problem is [that] I support immigration reform. He needs to [complain] to the folks who are blocking immigration reform.”

During his speech, Brown, the father of two children, laid out his vision for the state, citing a universal pre-kindergarten program, improved technical school education and help for small-business owners.

“I see the foot soldiers in this campaign. It’s a different kind of fight. We fight for middle-class families and middle-class values across this state,” he said. “We’ve got work to do until every Marylander can step out of their home … and look around and say, ‘I live in the safest neighborhood in Maryland.’”

To make that happen, Brown said, those in attendance needed to do their part.

“Here’s the challenge: We have to get out and vote,” he said.

Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) urged the audience to consider early voting, which runs Oct. 23-30.

“In Prince George’s County, you can lead the effort to vote early,” Edwards said. “Next Sunday, I’m going to take my soul to church, and then I’m going to take my soul to the polls. Are you going to take your soul to the polls?”

Caribbean Nation Impose Travel Ban on Visitors from West African States

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By Tony Best
Special to the NNPA from the New York Carib News


As fears about the spread of the Ebola virus mushroom across the U.S., several Caribbean nations have imposed travel bans on people arriving from West African states where the disease has taken a foothold.

Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Guyana, St. Lucia, St. Kitts-Nevis and St. Vincent & the Grenadines have all announced that anyone coming from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia would be denied entry into the respective island-nations and coastal states. Just as important, in the case of Trinidad and Tobago, people who visited those African states within the past six weeks would also not be allowed entry. That’s not all. Trinidadians and Tobagonians who visited the West African states on the list would be quarantined for 21 days when they return home.

At last count, 4,555 persons in affected countries have died from the disease and almost 10,000 were infected according to the World Health Organization in an effort to ward off the presence of the virus in various countries, ministries of health have heightened immigration screening; urged their own citizens to avoid traveling to places where the virus was entrenched; identified specific centers where Ebola carriers could be treated and quarantines; and launched health information campaigns to educate the public about the disease.

“We have to take every possible precaution to not only reassure our citizens, but to protect the country because if we don’t, the damage could be huge,” was the way Dr. Kenny Anthony, Lucia’s Prime Minister explained his government’s decision to impose the travel ban. “We are an extremely small country with limited resources and inexperienced in dealing with a global health crisis.”

In an interview with a Miami newspaper, Dr. Anthony said Caribbean countries must be equally concerned about visitors entering the region from the U.S. and Europe which recorded a few Ebola cases.

“The events in the United States have heightened awareness and reminded us how vulnerable we are,” said Dr. Anthony, one of the Caribbean’s legal luminaries and one of the region’s best known leaders. “We rely principally on tourism, and if, for example, there is any case in St. Lucia that sets off a chain reaction, we are going to be in very serious trouble.”

Meanwhile, the Caribbean Public Health Agency with headquarters in Trinidad and Tobago said the region hadn’t recorded any Ebola cases and Dr. James Hospidales, CARIPHA’s Executive Director said that the likelihood of cases being brought into the Caribbean was low. Still, he added, the region must move aggressively to comply fully with the international health regulations. No Caribbean country was in full compliance, he explained.

The Ebola picture across the Caribbean and Latin America was one of spirited activity to guard against any presence of the virus. For instance:

Colombia is denying visas to anyone who visited the worst affected areas of West Africa.
The Haitian government has asked international agencies to suspend the sending of employees to Haiti of any employees from Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia.
Jamaica had quantized an American at the airport after his arrival. He had visited Liberia two weeks prior to his arrival. Health officials examined him but found him “not to be exhibiting any symptoms of the Ebola virus. He was subsequently released and he returned to the U.S.
The CARIPHA executive director cautioned against travel bans warning they could “give rise to a false sense of security as they do not eliminate the risk” of the virus.
Belize, Caricom’s lone member state in Central America, refused to allow a woman, suspected of having the Ebola virus from disembarking from a cruise ship. The woman, a laboratory technician from Texas may have been in contact with blood samples taken from Eric Duncan, the American citizen who became the first victim of the disease in the U.S. He had traveled to Texas from Liberia where he was infected. Duncan subsequently died. She was eventually cleared of the virus.
Belize’s Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, said his government had a responsibility to protect its citizens from the disease.

“The countries, need to strengthen their capacities, preparedness and response,” said Dr. Hospidales.

Ebola Drug Safety Tests Raise Ethical Issues as NY Times Commends Cuba

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Special to the NNPA from Global Information Network

Oct. 20 (GIN) – Can you test a promising new Ebola drug by giving it to one sample infected group and giving a deactivated placebo to another? That’s the issue dividing medical experts at a World Health Organization meeting this week in Geneva.

“Is that even ethical? Will workers amid an epidemic be willing to consider getting a placebo? Which villages won’t get the active vaccine? Will the bad roads and overwhelmed medical systems even allow for such a study?” These questions were posed in a recent Wall Street Journal article.

A rigorous vaccine study that would cover anywhere from 5,000 to 30,000 subjects would be challenging to say the least in the three affected West African countries.

The issue has moved to the front burner since a drug developed at the National Institutes of Health’s Vaccine Research Center has been proved to block Ebola. “[We] have generated, for the first time, durable protection against a lethal Ebola virus challenge,” the NIH scientists reported in the journal Nature Medicine.

But the next step—a clinical study in the region—presents daunting hurdles. The vaccine needs to be kept at the temperature of dry ice. That means a minus 80-degree centigrade freezer in a part of the world with a spotty power system, notes WSJ reporter Thomas M. Burtos.

Reaching treatment centers in the rural countryside from congested Monrovia could take days. Finally, health care workers might object to taking part in a test if only half of them are getting the actual drug as opposed to the placebo.

Meanwhile, in an unusual turn from its frequently negative Cuba reporting, The New York Times this week sang high praises for the “impressive role” of Cuba in sending close to 500 medical professionals to Sierra Leone.

“Cuba stands to play the most robust role among the nations seeking to contain the virus,” wrote the paper of record in its leading editorial. “While the United States and several other wealthy countries have been happy to pledge funds, only Cuba and a few nongovernmental organizations are offering what is most needed: medical professionals in the field.”

Calling it “a shame” that Washington is diplomatically estranged from Havana, the editorial adds that “the schism has life-or-death consequences.” It was an urgent reminder, they wrote, of the need “to move swiftly to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba … as the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.”

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