Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Short films about Zimbabwe

The BBC History hour program/podcast today includes a discussion of Mugabe's massacres of his opponants:

and this is a BAFTA winning documentary on Zimbabwe's forgotten children:

Nigeria hostages rescued (And a side note on corruption).

AlJ reports that 1000 hostages have been rescued from the Boko Harum by a multinational taskforce in Nigeria.

he Multinational Joint Task Force, which comprises Nigeria, CameroonChadNiger and Benin, helped to secure the release of the captives, mostly women and children.
most of them were women and children.

remember the self righteous tweets #save our girls? Well, the local African countries managed to do it, but don't expect CNN to notice.

Wikipedia on this Multinational force

the US is helping with money and training.

But in the past, the US was reluctant about this because of corruption (I know here in the Philippines, often the money just gets diverted into the pockets of the big shots: and even the weapons get sold to the bad guys to make a profit)

there is also a report on a Fulani attack on a local church. not much in the article, but the background is that the herders are attacking the farmers, which has been going on for years.

so where do the Bokos get their financing? Drug smuggling of course.

According to an Africa Intelligence report, the group could be getting a lot of its financial support from drug traffickers who are using Nigeria’s strategic location as a crossroad for global narcotics transport.

BBC report cited  findings by the International Crisis Group  saying that the group had forged ties with arms smugglers and drug traffickers who use their territory as a transit route.
A 2012 report from the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies alleged that Nigerian terrorist groups are financed by drug cartels in Latin America.

UKIndependent notes that ISIS and Alqada are more interested in money than religion, so are busy in the drug smuggling business.

related item: The Mali connection: Drugs smuggling.

and the backstory: massive corruption problem.

and also the Population growth thanks to colonialism providing modern medicine.

While the Islamic terrorists get the most publicity (because of their extreme violence and eagerness to spread worldwide) most of the outlaw activity is about making money. The Islamic terror groups dominate the most lucrative criminal activities (smuggling drugs) because the Islamic terrorists are the most violent outlaws around and generally unencumbered by family or tribal responsibilities. Nevertheless, the Islamic terrorists are a small part of a much larger smuggling activity

and the French are busy with the fight against these guys, but the Americans are doing their thing with air support: For the US military it's personal:

The Americans stand ready to provide airstrikes for as many ISGS targets as the French intel effort can locate. The Americans are keen to eliminate ISGS because this groups was responsible for a late 2017 ambush in Niger that killed four American soldiers. ISGS wants to kill more American troops because that is a big deal with ISIL since Islamic terror groups tend to consider Israel and the United States the main enemies of Islam. Israel and the Americans have also proved to be the most effective at hunting down and killing ISIL groups. So this particular campaign against ISGS will be more of the same, just in a very remote part of the world. 
a short background on the problems of reporting: a lot of the reporters are from the left and see the "insurgents" as the good guys, so their reports are biased.

AlJ does this sometimes, with reports from the bad guys explaining why they fight, but not usually in their main articles.

And SP usually is blunt about the corruption problem, but figures their readers know how it works so doesn't give the details.

I'll explain using the Philippines as an example.

Once one of our family met and had dinner with another American helping in the south against the Islamic extremists. and he shook his head and said: They steal every thing.

So the US gives aid to the military and also for local development.

For the military, the US supplies information on what's going on (drones and electronic spying, including on cellphone calls), trains local soldiers, and also helps with drones and air support: but because of the law, the smart bombs are usually done via the Philippine military.

And you don't usually hear about the US support, unless the liberals can find "civilians" killed, then there is a big fuss.

Duterte is not taking it from these bozos: He just threw out an Australian "missionary" nun who was helping the bad guys by documenting "civilian casualties" by the local military. Lots of messiness going on there, and what she claims were atrocities was in an area where this had happened under the previous president, and it didn't help that she joined in and talked at political rallies (something foreigners are forbidden to do).

True, murders and civilian casualties, sometimes deliberate and sometimes accidentally because they are with the bad guys, either as family members or as hostages.

But the western activists don't usually worry when the Islamicists kill local traditional religion villagers, only when they are killed by the military or shot by a local Politician's hit men because they are reporting this, and the international groups rarely point out the main cause of the war: that the bad guys .(including "islamic" freedom fighters, our local communists, and of course the private armies of the politicians) are paying off the local businessmen and politicians.

And yes, the war on drugs is part of this: The Philippines was descending into the anarchy due to drug cartels and druggies committing crime. And a lot of the cops and the local politicians were on the take to look the other way.

but it also comes down to corruption: We just lost another priest here for opposing mining interests that would destroy the land of the locals. Probably a hit by a military or NPA type working on their own and paid for by the businessman or the politicians who will get rich by looking the other way when they pollute.

and we expect a lot of these murders to happen in the next week or two because we are having local elections, and the local officials often get rich diverting development and infrastructure money into their own pockets.

Monday, May 07, 2018

The new president and the military in Zimbabwe

AlJ has an article about Chiwenga and his military helpers as the real power players in Zimbabwe.

...Zimbabwe's new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, formerly an ally of the strongman, has struggled to move beyond the much publicised rhetoric proclaiming "Zimbabwe is open for business" and implement substantial political reforms that may serve to attract much-needed financial investment from abroad, instil consumer confidence throughout the economy and move the US to remove targeted economic and political sanctions that were renewed on March 2....
But the military complex, which comprises the army, ex-army officers and veterans from the 1970s war of independence, has begun to consolidate its power over civilian affairs by occupying positions across all branches of government and refusing to reform the executive infrastructure Mugabe abused for political ends ever since Zimbabwe was plunged into an economic quandary on November 14, 1997, a day known as "Black Friday". Now, Chiwenga not only controls the Defence Ministry, but his erstwhile subordinates hold influential and strategic positions in the government and the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). Retired Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri heads the Lands, Agriculture and Rural Settlement Ministry, retired Lieutenant-General Sibusiso Moyo is foreign affairs and international trade minister; retired Brigadier-General George Mutandwa Chiweshe is the High Court judge president; and retired Lieutenant-General Engelbert Rugeje was appointed the ruling party's political commissariat in December 2017.

Is this good or bad?

the military has many corrupt in it so it could be a problem.

Read the whole thing.

As a side note: my friend in Africa, a retired teacher who visits and helps the elderly left behind in the villages, was transferred to a new area. I had sent her money for a bicycle, but the nun in charge refuses to let her buy one because of the danger of robbery and rape.


She needs a motorcar, but I am on a pension and can't help her. Usually the Catholics in Europe are the source of funding the Catholics in Zimbabwe, but I guess since the local nuns are now educated and able to do all the work, they are invisible.

but it does show that in former tribal areas in rural Zimbabwe there is a lot of crime.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

boko vs christians and vs Muslims

Another mosque bombed in Nigeria. 
a double suicide bombing.

In our prayers

Trump asked Nigeria's president to protect Christians, who are targeted both by Islamic Boko types and by the tradional Fulani who want to graze their cattle on the farms of non Fulani, who are often Christian.

Some bozo criticized Trump for only noting Christians, but hey, you have to start somewhere.

The Bokos have destroyed mosques and schools for Muslims, so they hate everyone.

Another problem? one group targeted in the smaller Shiite Muslim groups.

and Iran is starting to send in propaganda instructors to cause trouble (i.e. to fight back with their own terrorists).

so Buhari is sending his troops into these areas to stop them.

and they cry foul.


Yemen is in the middle of a civil war blood bath between radical Shiites and the Saudi proxies.

Will Nigeria be the next place for this Muslim civil war?

Saudi Iran proxy fight in Nigeria

not my area of expertise, but just noting the problem.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Nigerian update

The Nigerian president will be visiting President Trump, and some white news agencies say he should represent all of Africa, as if Africa and her problems were a monolith.

and you can tell the US press is both reflexivly anti Trump and racist/clueless about Africa when they write stuff like that about Africa. Heck, check out this article: because they insist his remark about "s...... countries" was about Africa, when I thought he meant Latin America, where some countries are good, but others are deteriorating into chaos and lots of folks are fleeing from these countries, most to the country next door, but some to the USA...(Venezuela, Nicaragua, Hondoras and Haiti come to mind).

Nigeria has many problems, and StrategyPage has a summary of them here.

He is facing traditional tribal wars in the north, not just terrorism:

April 30, 2018: The current Nigerian president (Muhammadu Buhari) is a Moslem, a retired general and a Fulani who cracked down hard on Boko Haram but has been more reluctant to take on the Fulani.

he is also facing opposition by corrupt businessmen and politicians (hey, sounds like here in the Philippines, where the corrupt politicians are pushing the "Drug war murder" meme to get rid of him before he puts them in jail.).

At the same time, there is another battle raging between the many corrupt politicians and their corrupt allies in the business community fighting growing government efforts to curb the endemic and crippling corruption. The corruption crowd is suffering losses but have massive financial resources to call on and tend to be stubborn and determined. In addition, there are the criminal gangs that corrupt politicians, especially state governors maintain, and often use during elections or any other crises situation.

He also faces the usual problem of disease. SP notes the fight against polio made worse because some mulsim immans oppose getting the shots: I suspect they read the "anti vaccine" stuff in the UK papers, so again don't pretend this is due to "ignorant Muslims", and eventually these clergymen change their mind when they see less disease.

In Pakistan and Afghanistan, even the Islamic terrorists have come to agree that polio vaccination is a good thing and vaccination is catching up the few unvaccinated kids. That leaves Nigeria where Islamic conservatives up north have been preaching against polio vaccinations for years insisting that the medicine is actually a Christian plot to poison Moslems.

Not mentioned in the article: The oral polio vaccine, which is easy to give to kids, mutates into the real disease once in awhile, so if there are a lot of unvaccinated people around, the vaccinated kid can spread the real disease. Two ways to stop this; one, vaccinate all the kids, and two, use the shot instead (more expensive and requires training).


finally, the article mentions that a lot of Nigerians working and living elsewhere are sending money back to help their families.

During 2017 Nigeria received $22 billion in remittances from Nigerians living abroad. This was the largest amount for any nation in sub-Saharan Africa and the fifth highest in the world. The world leaders are India, which received $69 billion in 2017, China $64 billion, the Philippines $33 billion and Mexico $31 billion.

Again, this is a big thing here in the rural Philippines (including our family, who were supported by my husband): One person pays the school fees of all their relatives, and voila, the entire family enters the middle class.

lots more at that link, so go read the whole thing.

Unlike most of the US MSM, they tend to get things right about countries where I have personal experience (i.e. Colombia and the Philippines).

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Nigerian warrior queen


in contrast to this, a discussion of how Women in Rwanda helped rebuild their country:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

blood cobalt

StategyPage discusses the chronic civil war (and refugees and starvation and disease caused by the chaos of the war) in Central Africa, partly tribal and partly because President Kabila refuses to leave. The bishops devised a peaceplan there, but were ignored, so it appears it will continue.

The MSM ignores it (just another civil war, folks, just move on)..

But how many in the MSM will cover this: President Kabila plans to tax mining companies taking out cobalt (and copper).

February 10, 2018: Congo confirmed it intends to raise taxes on minerals as well as raise the royalty rate mining companies must pay the government. Parliament approved legislation to raise mining taxes as part of a new "mining code." ... Most of the mining companies affected are European, North American and Chinese. Cobalt will become more expensive and so will copper. Why? In 2016 the world produced an estimated 123,000 tons of cobalt and 57 percent came from Congo. ..
So what, you might say? Well this is why:
Cobalt has many uses, but it is critical in the production of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, the type used to power mobile digital devices and electric vehicles...
 and who is buying all that cobalt?
China has been a major buyer of Congolese cobalt so that increase will hit Chinese manufacturers particularly hard. In the first nine months of 2017 China imported an estimated $1.2 billion worth of Congolese cobalt.

and then there is the corruption angle:
..Gecamines, the stare owned mining company, plays a key role in mismanagement and "diverting" mining revenues. Gecamines officials are beholden to the Kabila government. (Austin Bay)
so what does this have to do with Zimbabwe?

well, there will be a need to find cobalt elsewhere:

The foremost risk, and perhaps the most challenging to solve, is geopolitical. Sixty-two percent of the world’s cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and combined with production from Zambia, Madagascar, South Africa and Zimbabwe, the five countries mine more than 71 percent of the world’s cobalt. Companies process ore locally and export more than 90 percent of the total to China for further processing and refining to produce commercial cobalt compounds used in batteries.
This exclusive trade between African countries and China exposes the market to Chinese regulatory volatility and export restrictions, a recent example being that of the rare earths market, which saw extreme shortages after the Chinese enacted export restriction in 2010. Since then, countries and private industries have had to resort to alternate sources and materials, and stockpiling.

Well there is a lot of rare minerals in Zimbabwe too, and the mining companies see the new president as business friendly.

Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe’s former spy chief, became president in November with military backing and has offered to hold elections by July.
His administration abolished rules that mining operations must be at least 51% owned by black Zimbabweans for all minerals other than platinum and diamonds.
Zimbabwe is geologically rich, with deposits of gold, chrome, lithium, coal, diamonds, platinum and iron ore.
Mine development stalled under Mugabe, whose policies led to a collapse in the economy and hyperinflation.
more here:

‘Zim could become hub of battery mineral revolution’

With Zimbabwe sitting on a lucrative mineral treasure trove and angling to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), Australian listed firm, Prospect Resources, is on course to spending an estimated US$55 million on a new lithium plant in the southern African country. Zimbabwe Independent business reporter Tinashe Kairiza (TK) spoke to Prospect Resources executive director Paul Chimbodza (PC, pictured) on how attractive Zimbabwe is as an investment destination and how the lithium plant will add impetus to government’s efforts to grow the economy

WSJ laments China's race to get rare earth metals including cobalt

e companies dominate the cobalt supply chain that begins at mines in Congo

Miners pushing their cobalt-laden bicycles through a mine near Kolwezi, Congo, last June. They often sell to Chinese wholesalers.
Miners pushing their cobalt-laden bicycles through a mine near Kolwezi, Congo, last June. They often sell to Chinese wholesalers. PHOTO:DIANA ZEYNEB ALHINDAWI FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
KOLWEZI, Democratic Republic of Congo—Miners push bicycles piled high with bags of a grayish-blue ore along a dusty road to a makeshift market. There, they line up at wholesalers with nicknames such as Crazy Jack and Boss Lee.
Most of the buyers are Chinese. Those buyers then sell to Chinese companies that ship the bags, filled with cobalt, to China for processing into rechargeable, lithium-ion batteries that power laptops and smartphones and electric cars.
There is a world-wide race to lock up the supply chain for cobalt, which will likely be in even greater demand as electric-car production rises. So far, China is way ahead.
Chinese imports of cobalt from Congo, the world’s biggest producer of cobalt, totaled $1.2 billion in the first nine months of 2017, compared with just $3.2 million by India, the second-largest importer, government data show.
“We’re realizing that the Congo is to [electric vehicles] what Saudi Arabia is to the internal combustion engine,” says Trent Mell, chief executive of exploration company First CobaltCorp. , based in Toronto. Chinese firms are keenly aware of Congo’s importance to electric vehicles, he says, and “trying to control the whole ecosystem…from cobalt mining to battery production.”

From Congo to China

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Morgan Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai has died.

AlJ has this article on the man and his work:

It's a dark moment for Zimbabwe. Iconic opposition leader and former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has died after a two-year battle against colon cancer. His death will remain as one of the rare moments that has united Zimbabwean politicians from across the political divide. His loyal supporters are inconsolable at the loss of their icon, but perhaps the greatest tribute is that those from the ruling elite, who have opposed and ridiculed him as a politician, have shown him respect.
Tsvangirai has, without doubt, been one of the greatest and most influential political figures in Zimbabwean history. He has always fought for the underdog, starting his activism as a trade unionist while working in a nickel mine.

BBC article.

 what's new for the MDC ...

The death of Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's totemic opposition leader, has left supporters in mourning - and his party having to navigate a precarious leadership transition ahead of landmark presidential elections. In Tsvangirai's place, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) installed on Thursday Nelson Chamisa as its acting president for 12 months.
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