On The Monitor this week:
- A Muslim perspective on secularism and governance – an interview with Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im
- The “Militant Wahabism” of al-Shabab, the Nairobi massacre and the genealogy of the tragedy – an interview with Abdi Ismail Samatar
More about this week’s guests:
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im (from Sudan) is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory Law, associated professor in the Emory College of Arts and Sciences, and Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion of Emory University. An internationally recognized scholar of Islam and human rights and human rights in cross-cultural perspectives, Professor An-Na’im teaches courses in international law, comparative law, human rights, and Islamic law. His research interests include constitutionalism in Islamic and African countries, secularism, and Islam and politics. Professor An-Na’im directed the following research projects which focus on advocacy strategies for reform through internal cultural transformation:
- Women and Land in Africa
- Islamic Family Law
- Fellowship Program in Islam and Human Rights
- The Future of Sharia: Islam and the Secular State
These projects can be accessed through Professor An-Na’im’s professional website »
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naʿim argues that the coercive enforcement of shariʿa by the state betrays the Qurʿan’s insistence on voluntary acceptance of Islam. Just as the state should be secure from the misuse of religious authority, shariʿa should be freed from the control of the state. State policies or legislation must be based on civic reasons accessible to citizens of all religions. Showing that throughout the history of Islam, Islam and the state have normally been separate, An-Naʿim maintains that ideas of human rights and citizenship are more consistent with Islamic principles than with claims of a supposedly Islamic state to enforce shariʿa. In fact, he suggests, the very idea of an “Islamic state” is based on European ideas of state and law, and not shariʿa or the Islamic tradition.
Abdi Ismail Samatar (from Somalia) is Professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota, a research fellow at the University of Pretoria, and member of African Academy of Sciences. His research focuses on the relationship between democracy and development in the Third World in general and Africa in particular. He is currently looking at the the link between democratic leadership, public institutions, and development in East and South Africa. Other themes in his research include Islam, social capital and ethnicity in the Horn of Africa, and environment and development.
Quote: “The brutality of al-Shabab is simply staggering. Its latest atrocity is the outright killing of over 100 students at Garissa University [in Kenya]. But what people also need to understand is the insidiousness of the Kenyan government and it’s actions in Somalia, which al-Shabab uses as a pretext to rally people in Somalia. If Kenya and the international community are serious about defeating al-Shabaab it can only be done by well resourced professional Somali security forces. The international community has failed to help Somalis build such a force. In addition Kenya and Ethiopia must withdraw their troops from Somalia as well as their efforts to gerrymander politics in that country by supporting certain factions in Somalia. The regime in Mogadishu is hopelessly corrupt and incompetent and can not galvanize the Somali people. The international community, including Africans, have been not only oblivious to the plight of the Somali people, but have turned them into a disposable political football since the collapse of their state in 1991. For years the world watched warlord terrorists rape, loot and kill Somalis with impunity. The U.S. actually backed the warlords against the Union of the Islamic Courts (UIC), which was trying to bring some stability to the country. In 2005, the UIC defeated the warlords and created peace in Mogadishu for the first time in years and without any help from the international community. Rather than engaging with the UIC, the U.S. and its African clients considered them as terrorists and Ethiopia was given the green light to invade and dismantle it. Ethiopian forces took over Mogadishu on December 25, 2006, and the prospect of a peaceful resurrection of Somalia perished. The brutality of the Ethiopian occupation has been documented by human rights groups. Resisting the Ethiopian occupation became the rallying cry for all Somalis. Some of the toughest challengers of the Ethiopian war machine were segments of the UIC militia known as al-Shabab. Their valour endeared them to many Somalis and this marked the birth of al-Shabab as we know it today. Had the international community and particularly the West productively engaged the UIC, I am confident that al-Shabab would have remained an insignificant element of a bigger nationalist movement. Kenya’s original rationale for invading Somalia was to protect its citizens and tourist-based economy from al-Shabab’s predations. For many this argument seemed reasonable as al-Shabab was accused of kidnapping several expatriates from Kenya. According to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity, there were credible reports that the Kenyan government had planned on gaining a strong sphere of influence in the lower region of Somalia long before the al-Shabab-affiliated incidents.”
Background: Samatar’s piece “The Nairobi massacre and the genealogy of the tragedy.” The New York Times reported last week: “Kenyan fighter jets bombed two training camps of the Shabab militant group in Somalia, defense officials said on Monday, the first military response to the attack on a university last week that killed nearly 150 students. Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, had vowed to respond ‘in the severest way possible’ to the massacre at the university. Military officials said it was difficult to assess the damage because of heavy cloud cover. Kenya has carried out bombing raids in Somalia after terrorist assaults in the past, and the Shabab militants, knowing what was coming, have often abandoned their camps after major attacks.”
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On The Monitor this week
- Ebola: Are We Being Told the Truth? An interview with Meryl Nass
CNN reports: “Thomas Eric Duncan, a man with Ebola who traveled to the United States from Liberia, died Wednesday morning at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, the hospital said.” Reuters reports at least 3,439 people have died in the current outbreak.
More about this week’s guest:
Meryl Nass is a physician in private practice who is known for uncovering the use of anthrax as a biological weapon in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), and for her outspoken criticism of the mandatory use of anthrax vaccine by the military. This use persists despite high rates of serious adverse reactions, and despite the fact that the vaccine was never proven effective nor licensed for the purpose for which it is being used (inhalation anthrax). In fact, the vaccine is in Investigational New Drug (IND) status for inhalation anthrax.
Dr. Nass has been a leading opponent of military policies that continue to treat servicemembers as a ready pool of experimental subjects, in the absence of meaningful informed consent.
She has shown that many studies indicate anthrax vaccine is one cause of Gulf War Illnesses, and furthermore that recently vaccinated servicemembers have developed identical illnesses. She has provided testimony before two Institute of Medicine committees on Gulf War Illness exposures (Dec. 15, 1999), and safety and efficacy of the anthrax vaccine (Oct. 3, 2000). She provided written comments to the FDA and the House National Security Subcommittee (Shays’ Committee) on Executive Order 13139, which created a new policy regarding use of unlicensed therapeutics in human subjects.
Dr. Nass discussed experimental anthrax vaccine use in testimony to the House National Security Subcommittee on April 29, 1999, and discussed accelerated drug licensing and abbreviated testing of vaccines and drugs intended for responding to bioterrorism in testimony for the House Government Reform Committee hearing on Nov 14, 2001 (“Preparing a Medical Response to Bioterrorism”) )
Among her publications addressing ethical violations in medical research:
“Who Is Protecting the Public Health? Can We Trust the Regulators?” By Meryl Nass, Z Magazine: http://www.zmag.org/ZMag/articles/april02nass.htm
“The Anthrax Vaccine Program, and an Analysis of the CDC’s Recommendations for Vaccine Use.” American Journal of Public Health. May 2002.
“The Model Emergency Health Powers Act Creates Its Own Emergency” April 8, 2002.
“The Extremely Difficult Task Of Tracking Vaccine-Related Side-Effects.” April 22, 2002.
On this week’s show:
- Corporate espionage – taking a leaf out of the NSA’s book? An interview with Gary Ruskin
- Remembering Nelson Mandela before his legacy is appropriated. An interview with Bill Fletcher
More about this week’s guests:
Gary Ruskin is director of the Center for Corporate Policy. During the 2012 election cycle, he was campaign manager of Proposition 37, for labeling of genetically engineered food in the state of California. For fourteen years, he directed the Congressional Accountability Project, which opposed corruption in the U. S. Congress. For nine years, he was executive director and co-founder of Commercial Alert, which opposed the commercialization of every nook and cranny of our lives and culture. He has often been quoted in major newspapers across the country and has appeared scores of times on TV news programs on all the networks. He received his undergraduate degree in religion from Carleton College, and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Our main discussion on the show is about a report, titled Spooky Business, which Gary says “documents how corporations hire shady investigative firms staffed with former employees of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA), US military, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Secret Service and local police departments to target nonprofit organizations.”
Quote: “Giant corporations are employing highly unethical or illegal tools of espionage against nonprofit organizations with near impunity. Our report documents how corporations hire shady investigative firms staffed with former employees of the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, U.S. military, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Secret Service and local police departments to target nonprofit organizations. Many of the world’s largest corporations and their trade associations — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Walmart, Monsanto, Bank of America, Dow Chemical, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Chevron, Burger King, McDonald’s, Shell, BP, BAE, Sasol, Brown & Williamson and E.ON — have been linked to espionage or planned espionage against nonprofit organizations, activists and whistleblowers. Many different types of nonprofit organizations have been targeted with corporate espionage, including environmental, anti-war, public interest, consumer, food safety, pesticide reform, nursing home reform, gun control, social justice, animal rights and arms control groups. Corporations and their trade associations have been linked to a wide variety of espionage tactics against nonprofit organizations. The most prevalent tactic appears to be infiltration by posing as a volunteer or journalist, to obtain information from a nonprofit. But corporations have been linked to many other human, physical and electronic espionage tactics against nonprofits. Many of these tactics are either highly unethical or illegal.”
Bill Fletcher Jr has been an activist since his teen years. Upon graduating from college he went to work as a welder in a shipyard, thereby entering the labor movement. Over the years he has been active in workplace and community struggles as well as electoral campaigns. He has worked for several labor unions in addition to serving as a senior staffperson in the national AFL-CIO. Fletcher is the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum; a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies; an editorial board member of BlackCommentator.com; and in the leadership of several other projects. Fletcher is the co-author (with Peter Agard) of “The Indispensable Ally: Black Workers and the Formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, 1934-1941″; the co-author (with Dr. Fernando Gapasin) of “Solidarity Divided: The crisis in organized labor and a new path toward social justice“; and the author of “‘They’re Bankrupting Us’ – And Twenty other myths about unions.” Fletcher is a syndicated columnist and a regular media commentator on television, radio and the Web.
He just wrote: “Nelson Mandela will be mourned and celebrated. But something else will happen. There will soon, probably very soon, be efforts to reinterpret his life. I do not mean leaving things out, as happened in the otherwise excellent film just released about his life. Rather, as we have experienced here in the USA with great leaders like King and Malcolm, there will be efforts to convert Mandela into a very safe character in order to advance the ends of the global elite. We will, for instance, not hear much about Mandela’s refusal to renounce armed struggle against apartheid, even though such a renunciation could have resulted in his release much earlier. We will not hear much about his expressions of gratitude to the Cuban people for their consistent support to the people of Angola, Namibia and South Africa who were fighting the South African apartheid regime. We will not hear about Mandela’s consistent, unwavering support for the Palestinian people’s struggle for national liberation.”
On this week’s show:
- The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled in 2011 that the NSA’s program is illegal. We talk with Mark Rumold about the possible release of that opinion, which, as you may expect, is secret.
- Dirty Wars hits the big screen in Houston and around the country. We talk with film’s director, Richard Rowley
More about this week’s guests:
Mark Rumold is a staff attorney at EFF, working primarily on the FOIA Litigation for Accountable Government (FLAG) Project. His legal interests include the First Amendment, information privacy, and the ways technology can improve how we structure government. He received his law degree from Boalt Hall and his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University. In his spare time, Mark likes doing the New York Times crossword puzzle, cheering for disappointing sports teams, and traveling.
Richard Rowley director, cinematographer, editor. Over the course of fifteen years, Richard Rowley, co-founder of Big Noise Films, has made multiple award-winning documentary features including Fourth World War and This Is What Democracy Looks Like. His shorts and news reports are also regularly featured on and commissioned by leading outlets including Al Jazeera, BBC, CBC, CNN International, Democracy Now!, and PBS. Rowley is a co-founder of the Independent Media Center. Rowley has been a Pulitzer Fellow, Rockefeller Fellow, a Jerome Foundation Fellow, and a Sundance Documentary Film Program Fellow.
- Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi recently reversed a Constitutional Court ruling declaring the parliament unconstitutional. We talk with Seif Da’na.
- With all the extreme weather we have been seeing across the US the discussion of climate change has been conspicuously absent. We talk about the issue with Neil deMause.
Quote: (Seif said this prior to the most recent events but I leave it here because it explains some context) “Egypt’s SCAF [Supreme Council of the Armed Forces] exploited the transitional period and people’s faith in the armed forces to abort the revolution through a slowly, but well-planned coup. The outcome is a major setback to the revolution in Egypt and the region, but might result in significantly weakening the Muslim Brotherhood, whose performance during this period not only divided the revolution camp but also enabled SCAF to carry out its premeditated scheme. “On June 14, 2012, SCAF initiated what most commentators, as well as Egypt’s activists, believe was nothing less than a coup d’etat. Egypt’s High Constitutional Court, whose justices are remnants of Mubarak’s regime, dissolved the newly democratically elected parliament. Later, the Minister of Interior Affairs issued a decree empowering military police and intelligence to indefinably arrest any person considered a threat to public order, which restores the 30-year-old emergency law that was revoked a few weeks ago due to activists’ pressure. “On the eve of the run-off election, the coup was completed with SCAF’s second constitutional declaration that basically revokes the president’s power and places him under its power, in addition to taking over the legislative power of the dissolved Parliament. This renders an expected victory of Mohammad Mursi (the Muslim Brotherhood candidate) rather insignificant (the official results of the runoff elections are scheduled to be announced on Thursday, but both campaigns contest the claims of the other).” See on twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/accuracy/egypt
Neil deMause is a Brooklyn-based journalist who has written extensively about climate change coverage for FAIR’s magazine Extra! — including the article “The Fires This Time: In coverage of extreme weather, media downplay climate change.”
Quote: “Despite overwhelming evidence that climate change is causing dramatic changes in weather patterns — from increasingly deadly heat waves and wildfires to hurricanes and tornadoes — media coverage has bent over backwards to avoid making the connection between extreme weather events and the warming climate. Instead, reporters have largely hidden behind the truism that there’s no way to say that any given event was caused by climate change. Yes, in the same way that it’s hard to show that any given person wouldn’t have gotten cancer without smoking cigarettes — but that doesn’t mean that journalists should avoid reporting that smoking kills.”
- A video produced by the NGO Invisible Children, called “Kony 2012”, has gone viral with over 80 million views in the last week. The video calls for U.S. military involvement in the capture of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Is the video a pretext for US military intervention? We talk with Kambale Musavuli about the issue.
- For the first time in the World Bank’s history, a candidate is openly campaigning for presidency of the institution. Traditionally, the U.S. government has hand-selected the World Bank president, but economist and health expert Jeffrey Sachs has shaken up the process this time by publicly proclaiming his interest in succeeding Robert Zoellick as World Bank president, saying that to date World Bank presidents have been political appointees or bankers — not development experts. We talk with Mark Weisbrot about this topic.
More about our guests:
Kambale Musavuli, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is a human rights activist, Student Coordinator and National Spokesperson for the Friends of the Congo.
Quote: “I spoke with the makers of ‘Kony 2012’ years ago and I asked them if they thought the Ugandan government was doing all it could for peace and they had no response. They are in effect backing this very oppressive government. Kony is certainly a very evil man, but he is no longer in Uganda and this video is pushing for military intervention rather than using diplomatic means. A U.S. ally, Uganda has caused havoc in Somalia, in Rwanda and especially in the Congo where they invaded twice (1996 and 1998) and supported rebel groups which triggered the deaths of millions of Congolese from which Congolese suffer to this day.
“And, while this film calls for U.S. military intervention in capturing a rebel called Joseph Kony by providing military support to Ugandan dictator Museveni, another film — “Crisis in the Congo” [in which Musavuli is featured] — talks about the role of the U.S. in supporting Rwanda and Uganda’s destructive role in the Congo which has resulted in millions dead and wide-scale pilfering of Congo’s minerals. The film emphasizes the need for diplomatic engagement through a law called The Democratic Republic of Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act (Public Law 109-456) which was written by Obama when he was a senator and co-sponsored by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“But today, President Obama is ignoring the law that he himself wrote. Instead, for the past two years the Obama administration has given the Congolese army a waiver to use child soldiers in the military and continue to receive U.S. military backing. So it’s quite something for us to see that the White House is so pleased with the video. The video calls on the U.S. to help the International Criminal Court capture Kony. But the U.S. is itself not a signatory to the ICC, it will not subject itself to the court, but it wants to subject others.”
“Crisis in the Congo” http://congojustice.org; Musavuli was just in a video by The Real News “Kony 2012 Hides U.S. Support for Repressive Ugandan Regime.”
“Kony 2012” http://www.kony2012.com
Mark Weisbrot is Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan. He is co-author, with Dean Baker, of Social Security: The Phony Crisis (University of Chicago Press, 2000), and has written numerous research papers on economic policy. He writes a column on economic and policy issues that is distributed to over 550 newspapers by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. He also writes a bi-weekly column for Brazil’s largest newspaper, Folha de São Paulo. His opinion pieces have appeared in The Guardian, New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and most major U.S. newspapers. He appears regularly on national and local television and radio programs. He is also president of Just Foreign Policy.
Members of Congress were expected Friday to deliver a letter to President Obama urging him to nominate Sachs, now the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University to be the next World Bank president. A letter initiated by Rep. John Conyers and signed by over 25 members of Congress states: “Professor Sachs is widely considered to be the world’s leading expert on economic development and the fight against poverty. For over 25 years, he has advised dozens of governments throughout the developing world on economic development, environmental sustainability, poverty alleviation, debt cancellation, and globalization. He has twice been named among Time Magazine’s 100 most influential world leaders.
Brazil Could Have an Impact by Supporting Sachs’ Reform Candidacy for the World Bank Presidency
Folha de São Paulo (Brazil), March 14, 2012
Jeffrey Sachs’ Reform Candidacy for World Bank President Offers Chance to Fix the Bank
The Guardian Unlimited, March 8, 2012
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Friend of the show and best-selling author Greg Palast is coming to Houston as part of his book tour and will be speaking to KPFT listeners to raise money for the station.
This event is a benefit for KPFT.| Print |
Praise for Greg Palast:
“A cross between Sam Spade and Sherlock Holmes” (Jim Hightower, The Nation), Greg Palast turned his skills to journalism after two decades as a top investigator of corporate fraud and racketeering. Palast’s reports appear on BBC’s Newsnight and in Britain’s Guardian, Rolling Stone and Harper’s.
Palast directed the US’ government’s largest racketeering case in history (that garnered a $4.3 billion jury award) and the investigation of the Exxon Valdez.
Palast is recipient of the George Orwell Courage in Journalism Prize for his BBC television documentary, Bush Family Fortunes.